For the past eight months, thanks to the support of the United Nations Association of Canada’s Green Corps Program, I have had the pleasure of being a part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup team at the Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise Initiative. Green Corps is UNA-Canada’s new youth employment program designed to connect talented, yet un- and underemployed, youth to meaningful employment opportunities and contribute to Canada’s green economy.  As a young adult, it can sometimes be hard to find meaningful work in a field you are interested in; so when I was thrown onto the shores with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup team, I was ready to dive into the opportunity.

Growing up in BC, I have always had a love for nature; fond memories bring me back to zigzagging far off the sides of a trail while hiking with my parents enchanted by the forest ecosystem around me. I followed this passion into my education and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Environment and Resource Sustainability from the University of Waterloo last year. I was eager to find a position that would enable me to practice some of the environmental principals I had learned in school.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with the Shoreline Cleanup program because of its national reach and many moving pieces which was an amazing challenge and learning opportunity. I was responsible for planning shoreline cleanups for each community that the AquaVan 150: Connecting Communities to Coastlines tour stopped in. Planning numerous events across the country taught me to be very adaptable to each community and gained more experience with project management and communications.

My three tips for young job seekers:

  • Have patience and persistence while looking for a position that you really want. Finding meaningful employment is a process worth spending time on.
  • Don’t be afraid to be yourself in the workplace. While still being professional, connecting with your co-workers on a more personal level can really benefit office dynamics.
  • Use every experience as a learning opportunity and look for chances to take on more responsibility when you feel yourself getting comfortable.

I found a close group of supportive colleagues and friends from my fellow Green Corps, the Shoreline Cleanup team, and many other Aquarium employees during my time here. Rarely have I seen such an inspiring group of people so passionate and focused on ocean conservation and sustainability all under one roof. It felt great to be working on a program with a mission that aligned with my sustainability education.

I am so grateful of my Green Corps placement at the Aquarium because of the amazing work the organization is doing and being able to develop transferable skills and knowledge I can bring with me into the future. Next up, I am heading into a Masters of Environment and Business through the University of Waterloo which I hope will propel me forward to explore my interests in working with corporate and community sustainability.

Aquablog post by Amanda Chouinard, Green Corps educator.

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