Reflections from Our Summer Scholar: Jessica French

Photo: Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar, Jessica French, is an undergraduate at Oregon State University. This summer she has been working with our team conducting human dimensions research.

By Guest Author Jessica French

Just ten weeks ago my fellow interns (Lisette and Phoenix) and I were headed to Otter Rock for our first practice run surveying visitors to Oregon’s marine reserves. Fast forward to today; Lisette headed back to Chicago last week and Phoenix left the week before. I have had quite the week finishing up data entry while adjusting to working from home and thinking about what comes next.

Jessica’s dog, Thistle, “working” from home

Throughout these ten weeks I saw how human dimensions research is carried out from survey design to report writing. I sat in on meetings with the team designing and drafting a survey that would be sent out to thousands of recreational fishers, created a codebook for data entry, conducted hundreds of surveys of visitors and businesses, and now I’m starting the report writing phase.

This behind the scenes look has made me feel more confident in my career goals going forward. Whenever I was asked what my long-term goals are I would confidently say, “to work in marine resource management” or “fisheries management,” without fully understanding what all that entailed. This experience was eye opening and helped me feel more confident in my stated career goals.

Not only was I able to get hands on experience and exposure to many different aspects of agency work but through my mentor Tommy, I have gained some insight into what it takes to get a permanent position at the state or federal level. I feel like I’m more prepared to make a plan for the future that will help me reach my goals.

It looks more and more like graduate school is in my future. I have started doing some surface level research into where I could apply and what that process looks like. This is where I feel like I faltered at the end of my previous bachelor’s degree so this all makes me a little nervous. In the next few weeks I will develop more of a plan and set up some meetings with my advisor and others to make sure I’m on the right track.

In the short term I will be staying on with ODFW as a temporary biological science assistant. This will allow me to continue helping write the reports for the data we collected this Summer. I’m excited to stick with the project a little longer and to have a job for the rest of the Summer!