- Students & Alumni
- CALS Career Day
I am primarily a life support operator but cover a variety of responsibilities within the husbandry department. As an aquarist I am responsible for the maintenance and aesthetics of several large freshwater and saltwater aquariums. I clean them, add new features and animals and provide daily care for the animals including feeding and addressing health concerns. As a life support operator I make daily checks of the aquatic animal life support equipment throughout the building including pumps, filters, heat exchangers and ozone generators. I perform preventative maintenance on the equipment and make any necessary repairs or modifications. I also assist in planning and building new exhibits. As water quality specialist I am responsible for monitoring and maintaining the water quality of the exhibits. I test various parameters for each exhibit and assist the aquarists in finding a solution to any water quality problems that might come up.
I enjoy being involved in several aspects of animal husbandry. It provides for a wide variety of experience and gives me the ability to recognize how every part of an animal's natural or artificial environment is connected. In one day I may assist in a paddlefish surgery, dive with sharks, answer a call in the middle of the night to figure out why we have 100,000 gallons of water on the floor, or design a hazardous chemical breakdown/disposal plan.
Work experience is essential to getting a job and being a good employee after graduation. Since it is essential information most of your coworkers will probably know the anatomy of the animals you work with; however, not all of them will know how to troubleshoot a generator or find a way to sew a shark transport sling back together. The things you thought you would never need to know is what will help you stand out. Having all the answers is not necessary but it is impressive to say you have seen a similar problem and tell them how it was handled. Even if the experience you are getting is not related to the job you want after graduation, knowing how to get along in a workplace environment is necessary. You will learn how to work with different personalities and how to figure out what it takes to keep your supervisor happy. This is what it takes to be successful.