Student Profile: Savannah

Savannah FernholzSavannah worked in the Weber Fisheries Ecology and Management Lab over the summer of 2015. She is a senior in Animal Ecology and Biology with a Fisheries Option.

Q. What company/organization did you work/volunteer with?
A. Weber Fisheries Ecology and Management Lab, Department of Natural Resource Ecology & Management, Iowa State University

Q. Describe your internship/work or volunteer responsibilities (daily, overall):
A. Assist with in‐lab tasks such as the completion of zooplanktion samples and larval fish and egg picking; process mortalities from largemouth bass tournaments (removing stomachs and otoliths); participate in field work such as electroshocking, telemetry, and in‐field fish surguries; assist with the basic maintenance and repair of field equipment, tag largemouth bass at fishing tournaments on Brushy Creek.

Savannah FernholzQ. What did you enjoy most about this internship/work or volunteer experience?
A. I really enjoyed the opportunity to help with several different projects and see first hand what fisheries research is like. I also liked being able to assist with projects both in the field and in the lab. This allowed me to develop a more well rounded set of skills and see both sides of each project.

Q. What resources did you use to obtain this internship/work or volunteer experience?
A. I received the job posting through a mass emailing from the NREM department.

Q. What skills or knowledge did you acquire from this experience that will be useful in the career you want to have after graduation?
A. I was able to gain more experience working with microscopes, operating boats and electroshocking equipment, knowledge of how to conduct a telemetry study (how to complete fish surgeries, how to track fish, etc), increased knowledge of how to conduct a mark‐recapture study, how to remove hard structures (such as otoliths) from several types of fish, and a greater understanding of how fisheries research is conducted. By participating in undergraduate research I was also able to gain experience in developing a study design, carrying out several sampling sessions in order to collect data, completing data analysis, and writing in the format appropriate for a scientific journal article.

Q. How has this experience impacted your future career plans?
A. Before working in the Weber lab, I had very little interest in a career in fisheries research and was mostly interested in working as a technician for the DNR. Now, I am planning to attend graduate school and hope to pursue a career in research, whether it be in a university setting or with some other agency. The opportunities I received working in the lab, in particular the chance to conduct my own undergraduate research project, helped encourage me to consider research as a potential career path.

Q. What advice can you offer to other students seeking a similar internship?
A. Do not limit yourself when it comes to applying for jobs. Before receiving the posting for the position in the Weber lab, I was adamant about working with the Minnesota DNR for the summer. I applied to the posting mostly to gain more experience with resume writing and interviewing, but, after talking with my advisor, I realized how valuable a job in a research setting can be for an undergraduate student. My best advice would be to not limit yourself and to apply to jobs in a variety of settings (government, academic, etc) in order to gain the greatest amount of experiences possible.

Q. Did you network with professionals in your given field through this experience and how do you think these connections will benefit you in the future?
A. I did have the opportunity to network with various professionals in the fisheries field through this experience. Not only did I get to meet people in the Natural Resources department at Iowa State, but I also had the opportunity to meet professionals from the Iowa DNR through participation in American Fisheries Society activities. Although AFS is something open to all students, as an employee in the lab I was highly encouraged to attend meetings and events that I may have otherwise not participated in. All of these connections will be valuable in the future when I am looking for a job immediately after graduation, as well as when I am applying for graduate student positions.