An Interview with WiseOceans… Jenni Choma from Six Senses Laamu
This week we chat to Jenni, one of the resident Marine Biologists based at Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives. Her advice is to take every opportunity that you get, paid or unpaid. The more experience you have increases the chance of landing a paid dream job further down your career path.
Name: Jenni Choma
Job Title: Resident Marine Biologist
Organisation: Six Senses Laamu
What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
For me I kind of fell into this career! I started out by studying Biology at Newcastle Univeristy in the UK, but I always knew I would travel afterwards. I first visited Australia where I completed my Open Water dive course on the Great Barrier Reef. Just a few months later I began volunteering at a coral reef restoration project in Malaysian Borneo, and the rest followed on from there!
What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
I believe a science background is useful in this field in order to conduct meaningful research, but I also found that completing my divemaster course was very valuable, both for being a confident and capable diver, but also to be able to take responsibility for others in the water (particularly if you work at a volunteer based project). However I believe the biggest step, and my main peiece of advice is to take every opportunity that presents itself to you!
How did you land your current job/position?
A friend who I had worked with in Borneo was working here at the time and asked if I was interested to join!
Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Being in the ocean! Whether a snorkel or a dive, and even if it’s a location I have been to many times before, you never know what you will see.
Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
I hope so! Here, it splits into two main categories – actively being in the water and removing trash/building a coral nursery/carrying out surveys to discover long term trends, etc vs. passively inspiring people to be interested and excited in marine life and the small measures they can make in their everyday lives that will have an impact on the health of the oceans.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
There is no right or wrong way to do things in terms of career advancement – the best thing to do is see what opportunities arise at the times when you are available to take them.
Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
Being a people person! Of course to actively be doing your part for the ocean in whatever way you are able is important, but if you can inspire others to also be interested or even excited to join you then the long-term impacts will be so much bigger.
What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
Be willing to take every opportunity and don’t think about the pay! This ‘industry’ is not for making money and shouldn’t be – it can be frustrating but the more willing you are to just go out and begin with volunteer opportunities, the more likely you are to get a long-term paid job in the future. Almost everyone you meet in this field will share their experiences and contacts all over the world which opens up new opportunities for you.
What is your favourite marine creature and why?
This is a difficult one! If I had to pick only one it would have to be manta rays: their graceful movements, huge size, intelligent eyes and amazing interactions with humans will always, without fail, leave me in awe.
What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
Seeing dolphins underwater have been some of my most unforgettable moments. They are so intelligent and full of character, as well as being graceful and agile – the interactions you get are so unique.
Thanks Jenni, we agree that you should take every opportunity you can get, especially when starting out in the industry. We know it can be frustrating working for free or little pay, but what volunteering lacks in pay, you gain in experience and knowledge.
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