College,  Education,  Learning Resources,  Volunteering

5 Productive Activities For Aspiring Marine Biologists This Summer

Summer is a time to kick back and relax, relish the good weather, and get caught up on those nitpicking tasks you’ve pushed off all year long. However, it’s also an opportune time to get ahead as a student. Whether that be taking summer classes or starting a summer internship, you now have some time to focus on some career-making moves.

To excel in your career while also enhancing your marine biology knowledge and summer experience, consider these 5 summer activities.

Photo by Jens Kreuter

1. Catch Up On the Documentaries You’ve Been Meaning to Watch

No matter where you turn, it seems like everyone is talking about that one documentary with the octopus. You know the one—My Octopus Teacher.

Another popular one to note is Seaspiracy.

Now would be the time to sit down and finally watch those documentaries. As a marine biologist, I assure you people in your field will know these films and want to talk about them. Not only are these films pretty darn good, but they are also great talking points. So, for the sake of keeping up with marine biology culture, take the time to enjoy some TV and popcorn.

2. Dive On In with Surfing, Snorkeling, Boating, or Tide Pooling

Again, not everything in your career needs to be academic. Sometimes you just need to get out there and enjoy the ocean. And, even though it may seem odd to say, incorporating the ocean into your extracurriculars is another great way to network with others in your field. That same scientist in a suit and tie at the lecture you went to might very well be the same person catching waves at the beach.

Connect with others and the ocean by trying out fun ocean activities, like surfing, snorkeling, boating, or tide pooling. Not only will these activities help you enjoy the beach-worthy summer weather, but they will also help you gain outside academia perspectives. The ocean should not only be something you talk about in a lab, it’s something meant to be enjoyed.

Photo by Tyler Nix

3. Volunteer in An Impactful Way This Summer

When it comes to volunteering in marine biology, aquariums can be one of the most interactive places. To learn about all the reasons why volunteering at an aquarium is a good move this summer, read this article.

Additional places worth looking to volunteer at include zoos and research stations. In the past, I’ve spent my summers working at an environmental research center, a lab, a local aquarium, etc… While some of this work was paid, others were strictly volunteer positions. No matter where I was, I learned a great deal and got to connect with the environment in more meaningful ways.

Whether you’re planning out this summer or mapping out next summer, below are links to NOAA-associated volunteer opportunities in marine biology:

Photo by David Clode

4. Take Some Online Summer Classes

If you’d like to learn something new while advancing your academics and meeting new people, consider taking some remote classes.

For example, I am currently working towards a certificate in science communication. Due to COVID-19, I take many of these classes online, which makes my studies far more customizable and convenient. Since summer is a major time for travel, this convenience can be particularly useful.

In case you’re curious, I take courses at UC San Diego Extension. They offer a variety of programs in numerous fields. So, if you have a particular interest, give UC San Diego Extension a look for virtual opportunities.

To start your search for online class opportunities, check out what your local community colleges offer or browse sites, like Khan Academy.

Photo by Nick Morrison

5. Prep For Your School/Job Applications

Perhaps, you have a school in mind you’d like to attend or a job you’ve been eyeing. In that case, there’s never a better time to get ahead on those applications than today.

To make your life streamlined during any application process, always make a rough schedule and a reminder list. For instance, school applications often involve numerous steps. Making these schedules and reminder lists will help when all those steps seem to be piling up.

Also, make sure to maintain contact with the people you are considering for letters of recommendation. Those relationships are vitally important. And, make sure to pick your candidates for these letters of recommendation wisely. It is always best for these to be people who had meaningful impacts on your journey and were witnesses to your growth.

Resume questions? Maybe, you’ve never written a resume? Check out this article!

Photo by Luke Dean-Weymark

Whatever you end up doing this summer, mold it in a way that works best for you. Perhaps, that means sea fishing, interning at an aquarium, or studying ichthyology off YouTube. Or, maybe you’ll find yourself researching in a lab and working on a scientific article.

Regardless, with all this free time and opportunity, remember it’s absolutely okay to “waste time” from time to time too! Everyone is entitled to a few moments of mindless tv and infinite phone scrolling.

When the school year does start, take your classes strategically and mindfully. To make sure you’re considering the right classes for your career path, take a peek at this blog.

Hi, I’m a San Diego-based blogger who's passionate about marine biology, finance, and science communication. Having recently graduated from UC San Diego with a bachelor's in marine biology, I am now working on a certificate in science communication. Over the years, I’ve worked in laboratory research and science outreach at aquariums, zoos, and environmental research centers. When I’m not writing, you can find me home brewing, tide pooling, skydiving, playing DnD, or hanging out with my two adopted guinea pigs. Reach out to me anytime, and follow Sand Dollar Wallet!

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