Ramona spent time as an intern before being offered her dream job with Fuze Ecoteer. She advises never to stop trying to achieve your goals and to try a variety of jobs and organisations as this will help you to realise what makes you happy and in turn, find your dream job!
Fuze EcoteerName: Ramona Pförtner
Job Title: Project Manager at Perhentian Marine Research Station
Organisation: Fuze Ecoteer
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
The ocean is my passion. Being in the water, diving along beautiful coral reefs and swimming with turtles and amazing reef fish is the absolute freedom.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
Being hard-working and patient. Even if you cannot find your dream job immediately, never stop trying to achieve your goals. Sometimes you have to try a few jobs, a few organisations, write a few applications and need to have more than one interview to find a job which makes you happy.
- How did you land your current job/position?
Honestly, it was just coincidence. A friend told me about the Fuze Ecoteer Perhentian Turtle Project where I applied for an internship. My plan was to just stay for a couple of month and then joining another project. In the end I stayed for 2 years enjoying free diving while taking pictures of turtles for photo identification, patrolling a nesting beach during the night to protect their eggs and doing beach clean-ups and awareness campaigns. Then they offered me the position as project manager for the Perhentian Marine Research Station and I am now looking forward to undertake coral reef and seagrass surveys while scuba diving, collecting data about substrate, fish and invertebrates as well as seagrass species. For me as a biologist, it`s the perfect job, enjoying being in the water and doing research at the same time.
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
That it does not feel like a job. If you love what you are doing you do not even think about time. But the diving part is the highlight for sure. When you go diving suddenly everything is so quiet and peacefully.
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
Conservation work requires patience. You cannot expect to see a significant increase in the population of turtles after 2 years because it takes years for them to reach adulthood, but if I think about the huge amount of rubbish our three projects are collecting every year around the islands I know you can make a difference every day.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
It is not all about certifications and having a straight line in your CV. It’s about the experiences you made and your personality which makes you suitable for a position as well.
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
Repairing skills. If you are working with a lot of people there is always something which needs to be fixed.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
I know we are all looking for a paid job which is not always easy to find in marine conservation. But sometimes you start as an intern and end up in a paid job. So don`t give up hope if you can`t immediately find a paid job after finishing your studies.
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
Pufferfish, especially porcupine fish. I know for some people they are dull, but they seem to be always smiling and make me happy every time I see them swimming by. Just watch the Japanese pufferfish, it is adorable.
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
A friend and me had our last dive as DMTs. We finished all skills and scenarios and were about to go back to the boat to return to the dive shop. We still had some minutes left until the other group was ascending. Our Instructor said we should go and enjoy the last minutes because the visibility was awesome on that day. In these maybe 10 minutes we suddenly passed 20 bumphead parrotfish. While hovering in the water and just watching them swimming so close to us, 2 African pompano and a school of diamondfish passed by. We were motionless in the water, watching the marine life passing by and were overwhelmed from the moment. Every dive can be a surprise and you never know what you will see.
Great advice Ramona, we agree that if you love what you’re doing the time flies by!
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