This week we are with Katie Correia, Science Programme Coordinator & Diving Safety Officer for CCMI. She says that luck paired with a positive attitude and a good work ethic opens a lot of doors. Read on to find out which doors opened for her.
Name: Katie Correia
Job Title: Science Programme Coordinator & Diving Safety Officer
Organisation: The Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) – Little Cayman Research Centre
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
When I was growing up, my parents used to take me to the coast of Maine every year where I was free to explore the tidepools, go on whale watching tours, and help haul lobster pots with the fisherman. From a very young age traveling here each year helped develop a deep-rooted passion for this unknown world and a healthy respect for the sea. This eventually led to my attendance in an undergraduate degree program in marine science and coastal geology, specializing in the coral reef ecology of Jamaica. That course, single handedly defined where I wanted to spend the rest of my career…exploring, learning, and sharing the beauty of coral reefs.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
To be totally honest, I still am not sure what my career goals really are. All I know is that I am working in a field of marine science that is constantly moving, changing, and evolving. I want to keep up with it, I want to enhance my existing skillset, and I want to learn as much for others as I can along the journey. Steps to get here were simple; get a college education, get some real experience, then get a higher education and further your experiences. People say I’m lucky, but luck paired with a positive attitude and a good work ethic open a lot of doors.
- How did you land your current job/position?
Good timing. I finished my Master’s Degree in the winter semester and an entry level position here at CCMI opened less than a month later. I was awarded the job and then offered the opportunity to stay on in a more senior staff position which I was able to partially create according to my skill set.
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I absolutely LOVE getting feedback from people who have visited CCMI in varying capacities and said that we truly changed their lives. We were able to open up their passions and help them to follow their own paths. Hearing that I personally am a part of that is one of the biggest compliments I have ever been given.
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
Absolutely, see above 😉
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
I do wish that I had taken my academics more seriously. I will never regret the path that I took to get here, however looking back I should have dedicated more time to my studies and less time to extracurriculars that I prioritized much higher than they should have been. I have never gotten a job that cared if I was the secretary of the Marine Science Club or the Sunshine Chair in my sorority, they care about being the President of that sorority or about that Field Research Assistant job I held for 4 years. I frequently “burned my candle at both ends” throughout my education, and in retrospect would have given my mind and body more rest.
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
For a brief time in high school I thought I wanted to be an interior designer (I know…I know haha) but this little dream was short lived. However, during that year I was formally trained in organization, design, and aesthetics. This seems like a very random skill set but over time the skills I learned from that training have helped me to keep a tidy and orderly laboratory, office, and even field station over all. I have been given the compliment that organizing things in a neat and intuitive way streamlines the workplace, whether this workplace is a formal setting or on a remote island in the Caribbean.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
Work hard. Really hard, but always maintain a positive attitude and keep your passions fuelled. People always remember the people who were always willing to lend a helping hand with a smile on their face.
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
The Blue Ringed Octopus. Octopi are overall just a very intelligent and interesting family of the animal kingdom, but specifically the blue ringed octopus for the respect I have for it. It’s beauty is unmatched, yet should it choose to defend itself, could kill a human in a matter of minutes.
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
The day I locked eyes with a 15ft female great hammerhead shark. I was at 60feet, my buddy was further away than she should have been, but there were a few moments where it was just me and her at the bottom of the sea and it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.
We agree that working hard and maintaining a positive attitude are the simple things that are so important. Thanks Katie, great advice!
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