A Teen Intern Reflects on Her Aquarium Experience
Teen Intern Tanajia has been part of the Aquarium's youth programs since 2020. Here, she shares some highlights of her experience.
By New England Aquarium on Tuesday, September 05, 2023
Being a teen intern at the Aquarium was my first-ever job at the age of 15. It definitely was a unique experience for a first job. I don’t have much memory about being at an aquarium prior to working here. I enjoyed coming in every day and being surrounded by all the different animals—it was a place to re–center at a time when the world was in the middle of the Covid pandemic. My favorite spot at the Aquarium was outside in the Marine Mammal Center. I enjoyed watching the sea lions swim around and listening to their loud noises. During this first summer, I worked in the Visitor Experience department, assisting guests through their visit. Something I reflect on and laugh at now is how nervous I was to use the radios. It felt so overwhelming at first, but as my confidence grew, I ended up enjoying using the radio to communicate with the rest of the team. Overall, my first year was a good experience. During that first summer, I met some new friends that I still talk to now three years later. All the coworkers were very nice to me and were very helpful when it was needed.
When I came back to work in Visitor Experience again for my second summer, I had more confidence in myself because I already had my previous experience to lean on. There were a lot of new faces that year. At first, I was disappointed that many of the friends I had made working the previous summer weren’t working with me again, but before long, I was having fun with my new coworkers. Because I was now a returning teen with more experience, I was given more responsibilities, like working more hours and helping to close the building at the end of the day. I found closing the building very enjoyable. I was also given shifts working at the Shark and Ray Touch Tank, which was a challenge at first. It took a bit to get used to coaching visitors to touch the animals properly. The whole experience helped me to develop better customer service skills.
Coming back this year for my third summer was a little nerve-wracking because I took a summer off of work, and many things have changed since I last worked here. I’m working in a different position and interacting with many new people. This summer, I’m working as a teen leader in the Teen Office. It’s all new, but I am enjoying it. The summer has flown by—I only have two weeks left, but it feels like orientation was just last week. I like my position this year because, overall, I want to work in an office setting later in life. So, being able to have this opportunity is a nice point of view of what I would be doing. I’m currently working to conduct research on youth advisory councils at other zoos, aquariums, and government agencies. The research that I’m doing will help the Aquarium to develop their own youth advisory council.
Another part of every teen’s summer internship is going on an environmental stewardship trip to Spectacle Island. Every teen intern participates in one environmental stewardship trip, but I participate in all six trips as a teen leader. When we are on Spectacle Island, we go tide pooling, pull up a settling plate, see what kinds of crabs and sea squirts are on it, and spend the day getting in touch with the ocean. My main job on these trips is to take pictures of the other teen interns exploring.
When I look back on all my summers working at the Aquarium, I realize how much I have grown—professionally and as a person. Working at the Aquarium is definitely an experience to have, especially as your first job.
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