After completing a bachelor’s degree in marine biology, Pádraig felt that he had tons of knowledge that could boost his employability as a conservationist – but he wasn’t quite sure how to get to where he wanted to be – working in the field of conservation. He was keen to keep his momentum and continued to push his professional development by gaining a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Advanced Open Water Diver certification while mulling over his next steps. Then in 2014, Pádraig got to hear about GVI’s marine conservation internship opportunities, took some time researching our programs, and decided to sign up to GVI’s 6-month internship in Fiji. He recalls day-to-day life working in Fiji as being filled with morning and afternoon dives in tropical waters, surveying more than 100 different marine species, gaining experience in data management, taking part in Fijian language lessons and engaging with community members.
And, between “office hours” he had the chance to travel to Fiji’s capital, Suva, as well as other islands, join kava-drinking ceremonies – a cultural event that incorporates Fiji’s national drink – and spent hours on the sandy coastline playing volleyball with local people. His internship with GVI included a 12-week placement with a dive shop, Aqua-Trek, an organisation known for offering underwater experiences where you could spot as many as eight sharks in a single dive! It was here that Pádraig was able to sharpen his diving techniques and skills as a marine guide.
With his internship completed, he headed home with a whole host of new skills in his professional tool kit. Still not quite sure where exactly his professional experience would take him, Pádraig surrounded himself with his passions, completing his master’s in animal behavior, getting involved in marine biology lecturing, and developing learning materials for university students. And one day, while on the hunt for a job in conservation, Pádraig clicked on the most recent vacancy update he’d received as a member of GVI’s alumni mailing list. This led to him landing his first job as a professional conservationist in Thailand working with Thai elephants!
Since then, Pádraig has worked as the Director of Operations for the Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute, a prestigious role that he landed thanks to the comprehensive theoretical and hands-on experience he was persistent in pursuing. Today, Pádraig is GVI’s Program Manager for Belize & Madagascar, but, with the green industry growing every day, he still sees himself travelling and seeking out exciting opportunities in his future.
Brooklyn Norton – Ambassador Programme Manager and UK Outreach Manager, Global Vision International