How to achieve skills & experience in college for Marine Biology


So, why Marine Biology?

Colin Howe, Tropical Marine Ecologist, has always wanted to be a Marine Biologist. He wanted to travel and study exotic wildlife. And don’t forget, the bonus of spending many of his days in or under water!

It’s safe to say, Colin’s ocean story is unique

However, like many people who aspire to become a Marine Biologist, when starting out he had absolutely no idea where to start or where this career would inevitably take him. Sure, being able to sit and stare at what felt like the edge of the world itself was definitely a goal. But, he would be lying if he said he knew exactly how he would get there. Thinking back to where it all started, it’s humbling how unpredictable, challenging, and life altering the experiences have been.

Now that he’s a Marine Biologist, Colin couldn’t imagine doing anything else!

Today, Colin absolutely loves his job as a Marine Biologist. It’s a rewarding and unforgettable experience.

He’s a scientist that gets excited when talking about the ocean or coral reefs.

He’s also inspired when he meets ambitions and passionate early career scientists.

He finds motivation in sharing ocean stories that reveal deep connections to scientists very own lives.

Over the years of study and research in the Caribbean, he’s determined not only to learn as much as he can… but to also share what he’s learned the best way possible.

So, welcome to his start as a Marine Biologist vlogger!

Colin has met a lot of people who are really interested in thinking about what a career in Marine Science, or Marine Biology might be like for them. Over time, he’s really been drawn to doing something like becoming a Marine Biologist vlogger. To put together some videos that highlight a lot of the lessons that he’s learned to try and help other people in a unique and distinct way. For example, things to avoid, or how to think about approaching professional development advice.

It has been challenging to think about the best way to go about it.

He’s done his homework, and seen a lot of great content and information that’s already out there. As of now, he’s still trying to develop his own flavor and approach. After thinking a lot about how he wants to get started, he decided one of the best ways to share his experiences and lessons that he’s learned throughout his career as a Marine Biologist… is by telling stories.

Marine Biology, the beginning

Back when Colin was in college, he already knew that he wanted to be a Marine Biologist. He was 14 years old when he first got a chance to go scuba diving. It was a truly inspirational and monumental experience for him. It had a profound effect on what his aspirations were as a young boy.

So, he went to the one university in the state of Virginia that offered a Bachelors of Science in Biology with a concentration in Marine Science.

Once he got into college, he was really excited! But, he quickly realized that getting a degree in Marine Science is actually really challenging. There’s a lot of heavy math and science up front. As a result, his grades started to dip. In reaction to the dip in grades, he forced himself to go to office hours to get more help and information about the classes and topics he was trying to learn.

Remarkably, he not only learned more about Biology, and Marine Biology specifically, also really useful professional development tips.

He received suggestions and support by active Marine Biologists! He was lucky that a lot of his professors were active Marine Biologists, so they taught classes, had graduate students, ran a lab, conducted research and published papers.

How did he apply the advice from professional Marine Biologists?

First, he applied it to his own life to help become a competitive applicant after college.

Secondly, he shared it with his friends and colleagues.

He was eager and excited to share with his friends in hopes that they could all find rewarding and successful careers. Ultimately, that collaboration and deliberation formed the Marine Biology Student Association. It was the first of it’s kind at his university. It was a student run organization that primarily focused on the field of Marine Biology.

The MBSA allowed himself and the board (a bunch of Colin’s friends he convinced to join him in this crazy endeavor) to work together in a group and accomplish some remarkable and unforgettable things. Just the involvement of the student organization, and being someone who was responsible for coming up with things and organizing them, taught himself and others a lot more valuable lessons that they wouldn’t have learned in a classroom.

Collaboration is a skill

It’s something that has to be practiced. It’s not just natural for everybody.

Being a part of a student organization taught him how to deliberate. How to share, and to delegate tasks. How to be a leader.

#1 Tip for undergrad Marine Biologists?

If you’re starting out in college, and you’re curious about where you can find opportunities – ways you can learn lessons but also establish a solid resume – Look at student organizations.

Most of the universities or colleges that have active professors who are conducting research and doing actual Marine Science, will have a group of students who are organized (in some fashion). They want to try and help and support other Marine Biology students.

We’re excited for more to come from Colin at SciAll!

He has a few things up on our SciAll Instagram already, and we’re super excited for his future content as one of our SciAll professional scientist collaborators. You can also connect with his account @marinesci4life 😎

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