Chants Working Abroad
ABOVE: Katie graduated from CCU in 2009 with a marine science degree.
Meet Katie Correia
During Katie Correia’s time at Coastal, she took advantage of CCU’s resources and opportunities to prepare herself for success abroad. Finally, after much preparation, Katie embarked on a journey to the Cayman Islands. She has dedicated her time to the Central Caribbean Marine Institute where she works as a science and education manager. Katie’s passion for teaching and caring for the environment has provided an experience of a lifetime.
Name: Katie Correia
Degree: Marine Science, B.S.
Occupation: Science and Education Manager
Employer: The Central Caribbean Marine Institute
Location: The Cayman Islands
How is working overseas different from working in the United States?: I find working abroad to be different from working within the United States in countless ways, most of which are more preferable to my lifestyle but certainly not for everyone. Life as you can imagine is a little slower in the islands so people tend to stop and chat all throughout their day, nobody is in too much of a rush, and everybody waves…because everyone knows each other. Living in the islands (having lived on about six different Caribbean islands now) you have to be alright with people stopping you on the street and asking about your auntie or your boss, even just stopping you to ask if you are that person they saw on the news or heard on the radio. Most Caribbean islands keep that small town feeling alive, no matter how big or how small. Working for a non-profit outside of the United States allows me to live tax-exempt so that is a plus, however this does mean a lot of additional paperwork around tax season…which is not a plus. I have also worked in the United States in various capacities within the private, non-profit, and governmental sector and I find that due to increased economy and infrastructure, it sometimes can be hard to get things done. To me, working outside of the United States is seeing change. It also gives me the ability to actually get things done in a relatively timely manner and to be a big fish in a little pond. This allows me to feel much more satisfied and fulfilled with the work that I am doing because I am getting near instant gratification from the daily work I do.
How did Coastal prepare you for a career working internationally?: While I was at CCU I took advantage of a study abroad Maymester course to Jamaica. It was the coral reef ecology field course with Erin Burge, Ph.D., and Eric Koepfler, Ph.D. I had saved up for this experience for the previous three years, knowing that it would be a game changer for my future. This course totally opened my eyes to the possibilities of living, working and thriving in marine science outside of the United States. It gave me long term (three weeks) exposure to what life in another country could be like from experiencing the culture, meeting and mingling with the people, and learning about the amount of work that goes into making this a possibility. Once I was back in the States, I knew that I wanted to go back to island living.
I was also heavily involved in extracurricular activities while at Coastal such as Phi Sigma Sigma, the College Panhellenic Council, SCUBA club, the Student Government Association, track and field, cross country and the Leadership Council. The ability to be so involved in student life on campus while still maintaining a full course load and several part time jobs, was all due to the assistance I received from professors, mentors and fellow students along the way. Working as a team with these individuals prepared me to work for and with many different types of people in many different working environments. Without the help and availability of opportunities and resources at CCU, I may not have been confident enough, organized enough, or brave enough to start my study abroad process.
What has been your best moment living overseas?: I have to say that I don’t really have a “best moment” living overseas, I just have best “years.” The ability to wake up on the beach to the sound of waves crashing on the shoreline in front of my house, crack open a fresh coconut with breakfast and throw on SCUBA gear to dive for lobster or conch outside my front doorstep is worth more than most jobs in the States could ever pay me. I love being able to work with and teach between 500-1000 students of all ages throughout the year. We cover how to live more sustainably, how to minimize our carbon footprint, and about the beauties and wonders of our blue planet. I usually tell my students that although I am not rich in wealth, I am rich in experiences…and to me that is all that matters.
What advice would you give to current Coastal students?: Advice I would give to current Coastal students is pretty common, but I think sums it up best: Work Hard, Play Hard. I think back to my collegiate experience and think, wow, when did I have any fun? I was always SO involved that sometimes I let really awesome opportunities with friends, family, or travel slip by me. However, I also think that I have arrived to where I am today due in part TO all of that hard work…however, I wish I had balanced those two things out a bit better. I often ask employers what their favorite qualities are in me as an employee and most of the time it is a positive attitude, a strong work ethic and continually being willing to learn new skills. These few small things have opened a lot of doors and I hope they continue to do so for myself and for anyone reading this post.