August 19, 2013

Where to go from here

By Rachael Sitzer, Program Intern

I’ve always been a go-with-the-flow kind of person. Is there anything wrong with that? How many college students ever know for sure what they will do, or at least want to do after they graduate? Being a zoo science major, I know that I want to work in a zoo as a zookeeper and eventually become a curator. But that is where my plan ends. I don’t know what zoo I will work at or where. Besides, there are only about 200 AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited zoos throughout America. Why limit myself even further by wanting to work with certain animals, at a certain zoo, or in a particular state or part of the country? It is my belief that getting where you want in life is about being open to change and having the right state of mind to take advantage of rare opportunities. That being said, I am simply waiting for one of those opportunities to come along.

That’s also what I was doing before I came to Squam Lakes Natural Science Center as an intern. By no means did I ever expect myself to be working at a “science center” rather than a zoo, but I saw the internship as a unique opportunity that I could not pass up. Thankfully, I have found the Science Center to be a reputable AZA institution (as small as it might seem) with dedicated staff and I haven’t regretted being here for a single minute. In fact, I completely underestimated the Science Center in its ability to provide me with the kind of experience I was looking for. I have taken care of and worked hands-on with animals that I’ve never come close to seeing before. Ironically, I have had the chance to see the faces of visitors and children as they were witnessing certain animals for the first time when, little do they know, I was in their shoes only months ago. Frankly, I have been astounded by the high-quality educational programs and exceptional visitor experience that the Science Center provides.

Completing this internship has not helped me decide on a career. I determined many years ago what career I have been heading toward: zookeeping. Instead, this internship has strengthened my lifelong ambitions and given me additional motivation to achieve my career goals. Even with this rekindled determination, there’s still no chance of me making plans for my future. Don’t get me wrong, I always prepare for the future as much as realistically possible, but I’m not going to naively plan out a career path that will probably change. So no, I can’t say for sure what I will be doing in May when I graduate, and I won’t know for sure until that day actually comes. But I trust that my experience here at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center will carry me great distances toward my desired career in zookeeping and help me when the right opportunity comes along. After all, some of the best things in our lives come along unexpectedly.

No comments: