“You Have to Prove Yourself!”

Zoo Internquest is a seven week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors. Students have the unique opportunity to meet professionals working for the San Diego Zoo, Safari park, and Institute for Conservation Research, learn about their jobs, and then blog about their experience online. Follow their adventures here on the Zoo’s website!

This week we took a look into San Diego Zoo Global’s efforts to study and preserve giraffes, specifically reticulated giraffes. Part of this inside look was meeting Jenna Stacy-Dawes and Nikki Egna, two people who look closely with Zoo’s efforts in giraffe conservation. Ms. Stacy-Dawes is the program’s Research Coordinator while Ms. Egna is a contracted Research Associate. As one of the primary goals of the project is to track and map the number of giraffes in Kenya, Ms. Stacy-Dawes and Ms. Egna spend the majority of their time analyzing and managing data. An example of this data can be seen to the right.

The team itself only consists of three people, including Ms. Stacy-Dawes and Ms. Egna. This means not only do Ms. Stacy-Dawes and Ms. Egna have a lot of work cut out for them, but also that they had to work hard just to get into the program. Both Ms. Stacy-Dawes and Ms. Egna had to prove themselves, which leads us to the focus of this blog post.

Ms. Stacy-Dawes grew up in San Diego, and as a teen, she participated in San Diego Zoo programs such as Zoo Corp. She earned her bachelors in zoology at Cal Poly Pomona and then eventually her masters through the Advanced Inquiry Program in conjunction with Miami University and San Diego Zoo Global. Ms. Egna earned her bachelors in environmental science. While both Ms. Stacy-Dawes and Ms. Egna had different paths to this career, they both agreed that hard work and dedication to conservation helped them get there. Ms. Egna started her time as an intern after having e-mailed the head of the team, and knowing this was her shot at landing a paid position at the Institute, she worked hard every day. As she described, her hard work was noticed and the team raised funds to hire her as a contracted Research Associate. Ms. Stacy Dawes shared a similar story saying that she started off volunteering and worked hard which eventually led to a permanent position on the team. They both emphasized hard work as a means to prove yourself to potential employers. Additionally, they stressed the importance of building connections and networking as an important piece of getting your foot in the door and landing your dream job in any field. This is a philosophy that I have always carried, and this experience has only cemented that within me.

It is my dream to work with animals, specifically either as a trainer or a vet. Both of these careers are extremely competitive as I’ve been able to learn throughout Zoo InternQuest. So in order for me to be successful I am going to prove myself at any opportunity I get, including this internship. This applies to anyone going into a competitive field, and it is good practice no matter what field you go into. You have to prove yourself in order to achieve your dreams, and that means putting in the work.

Amber, Careers Team,
Week Six, Winter Session 2018


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