Biologist Trainer Job Position

As I was browsing the Association for Zoos and Aquariums job postings board, as I do on a regular basis, I came across a position labeled Biologist Trainer-1. This job is located at the St. Louis aquarium at Union Station. The keyword “trainer” sparked my interest, so I decided to check it out.

Right away, the job looked right up my alley. It calls for the applicant to train the animals, provide daily care, and engage with the public to spread the message of conservation. It reminded me so much of my previous job at the Surfin’ Safari show at the Columbus Zoo.

The job requires several things that I do not have and one I do. The requirement I do have is experience in a full-time, paid job working in animal husbandry and operant conditioning. As for the things I do not have: first off, it requires a whole bunch of health training certifications. First off, the job posting lists a SCUBA certification, which makes sense since most of cleaning tasks at an aquarium would be under water. The applicant should be able to be comfortable underwater for an extended period of time in order to provide the best care and cleaning to the animals. Secondly, the job calls for First Aid, Emergency O2, and CPR/AED certifications. Again, this makes sense as injuries can and do happen, with more serious injuries surrounding water related tasks. The job wants someone well versed in emergency situations and that knows how to handle them safely. Third, they require a Bachelor’s degree in a related field. I can say I’m currently working on that! Lastly, they want “competency in Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, and Powerpoint”. As much as I hate working with Microsoft and strongly prefer Google, this is a bullet I would have to swallow.

It’s clear I would have a busy summer getting all of those certifications! I would have to do my own research into places that will provide those certifications. Even though I’m not applying for this job now, I will still probably make it a priority to get these trainings because most animal jobs call for them, and it looks great on a resume. As for the degree, I know I’m on a good track to finish in 4 years unless something goes horribly wrong *knock on wood*.

My plan for accomplishing my list is not very intensive. I will try to whittle away at all the certifications over the next few summers and continue working towards the degree. For now, I will leave some pretty pictures of the St. Louis Aquarium.

January Reflection

Back again, back again! New year, new president, new classes. This semester I’m taking GenChem 2, Bio 1113, Med/Ren 2666 (witchcraft and magic!), and Intro To World Cinema.

In bio, we started out learning about DNA and proteins. I learned the veeeery basics in high school bio, but with the background I learned in GenChem 1 last semester, seeing how everything lines up is really neat! Also, each base that makes up the structure of DNA has a letter (ATGC) and would take about 6 billion letters just to make up the DNA code in most of our cells. 6 billion!

We had to spend the first week of class at home which is how I learned that in order to succeed, I need a dedicated workspace. In high school I could do homework anywhere: couch, table, or bed. But college requires higher level work (duh) and therefore needs it’s own productive space.

I’ve struggled a lot chemistry already this semester. My professor goes very fast and is hard to understand at times. It doesn’t help that the past few chapters have been mostly Calculus and I’ve only taken math up through Precalc. Plus, the homework doesn’t exactly line up with the book and the chapters we’re on. But, I’m really proud of myself because for the first time ever I attended office hours to get help on the homework, and I made an appointment with my TA to go over a question that I didn’t understand. It truly made me feel like I was a responsible college student.

I already achieved one of my goals for 2021. I went to the RPAC for the first time ever and worked out! I feel like going to gyms is so anxiety inducing because everyone there seems to know what they’re doing and they know all the unspoken gym rules. But I swallowed my pride and went and it wasn’t that bad! I’ll definitely be heading back.


Alumni Interview

For my alumni interview, I talked with Jesze Doleh. Jesze graduated from Ohio State with a bachelors of science in zoology and a minor in education. She has had many internships and jobs since graduating; however, most recently she worked as a reptile keeper in the desert region of the Indianapolis Zoo. She also worked in the zoo’s education department, working with children’s educational programs, school field trips, and writing curriculums for schools. 


Jesze and I started out talking about the job market for zoology degrees. She is in between jobs at the moment, as COVID forced layoffs in her department. She told me how when she first got out of college, she applied for 50 jobs and received offers from only two. She recommended looking at job sites such as Indeed, the zookeeper facebook group, and the AZA job posting website in order to find jobs and internships. She talked about a few different jobs that zoology majors find themselves in. Many follow the pre veterinary  track and try to get into vet school, and most others end up in zoos. But she mentioned some other jobs such as a zoo educator, working in a national park, or an environmental education role. As for interviews, Jesze recommended making sure my job experience at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was at the top of my resume, making my cover letter unique and stand out, and, of course, being myself.


For classes at Ohio State, Jesze highly recommended a professor named Erin Lindstet who teaches organismal biology and comparative physiology. She also recommended taking an extra curricular class called zoo science and management. The class has a partnership with the Columbus Zoo and teaches all about the finances and management that go into running the zoo. They also get to take field trips behind the scenes at the zoo which is awesome! Jesze was also involved in the zoology club at Ohio State, and said she made plenty of connections while in it. 


As for my time at Ohio State, Jesze gave me lots of advice on classes to take and avoid, as well as how to prepare myself for the job world. She spoke highly of the STEP program at Ohio State, which is a second year program that gives grants of up to $2,000 to second year students to help fund their journey, whether that be paying for housing and food while they do an internship, or paying for work boots and gas money for the student. 


October Monthly Reflection

Two months into my first semester of college! Somehow the time has simultaneously crawled and flown by. Everytime someone reminds me that it is almost the end of October, I get a rude reality check. Now that I’m a month wiser and older, here is what I’ve learned. 


Chemistry is fake. No, seriously, it really is. Chemistry is some old guy’s best guess and everyone is going along with it until we find a better explanation for why things are the way they are. At this point, I’m not even sure I’m learning. I am just absorbing information and saying, “well I’m going to have to believe you because I don’t know enough to say otherwise”. I have also learned, through ENR Scholars (shout out!), that ice needs to be at least four inches thick before you should even attempt to walk on it. My Spanish professor is still as incredibly sweet as always. 


About myself, I have learned that I am capable. I have learned that I am enough. College is supposed to be hard, and I am not the only one who is struggling. Since the past month, I have learned how to more effectively study, which was demonstrated by the way I studied a few days in advance for the second chemistry midterm instead of the night before. 


I’ve struggled with accepting the fact that I don’t know everything that will be on a test, I probably will never know, and that’s ok. The biggest switch from high school to college is that the professors in college don’t make their own tests. So they teach what they teach, and it is up to the student to fill in the blanks. That is certainly a challenge. Also, I have a personal struggle with the Chemistry department. Why can’t we skip between questions on the midterms? I won’t air my grievances here, moving on…


Since last month, I have achieved a better sense of organization. I’m no longer scrambling and racking my mind to remember an assignment that I forgot. I feel much more confident about my ability to keep myself organized and on track. I’m still happy, and still thriving.