For more than 30 years, the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society (OWUSS) has offered a variety of experience-based internships, including one with Bonnier Corporation's Dive Group, which includes Sport Diver and Scuba Diving magazines and SportDiver.com and ScubaDiving.com. OWUSS's goal is to foster development of the future leaders of the marine environment. By investing in special young people, exposing them to a broad array of activities in the underwater community and giving them opportunities to work with influential people who are leaders in aquatic disciplines, OWUSS is investing in the future of our oceans and lakes. This year, University of Arizona graduate Alec Nielson has been awarded the prestigious internship at Bonnier Corporation. Alec has a degree in Journalism and an interest in ocean conservation and marine biology. During her summer internship, she will be reporting on marine conservation issues for both Sport Diver and Scuba Diving.
We asked Alec about what she hopes to accomplish at Bonnier this summer.
What attracted you to the Bonnier Corporation internship?
Since graduating college, I have been making a mental list of the pros and cons of chasing my dreams versus settling into my day job as an administrative assistant. After reading a series of inspirational quotes supplied by Google, I decided on the dream-chasing route. That is how I ended up applying for the Bonnier Corporation internship. I could not help but notice the parallels between my career hopes and the internship description paragraph. From what I understand, they both require me to live near the ocean, write about the ocean and maybe even help save the ocean. I feel so fortunate having been chosen for an internship so perfectly tailored to what I want to do with my life.
As a side note, I would be lying if I said I was not looking forward to using my AP style skills. But that is secondary, really, to the dream-job thing.
What are you hoping to do while interning at Sport Diver and Scuba Diving magazines?
While interning at Sport Diver and Scuba Diving magazines I would like to write something meaningful. My goal as a writer has always been to help people and work toward positive change. That may mean writing an article about protecting sharks from finning or piecing together a column for scuba diving beginners about when it is appropriate to pee in your wetsuit. I think both are important.
In addition, I hope to have the opportunity to work with some of the Bonnier Corporation staff and absorb their brilliance. Anyone who has made a career out of writing and/or scuba diving will have my full attention when they offer up any sort of advice.
I would also like to photograph an unknown species that has never before been caught on film. In the event that I do not both discover a new species and catch it on camera, I will settle for photographing an affordable regulator or the place where I store my pens.
Mainly, I am hoping to gain more experience in this field. This is an opportunity to temporarily work in my dream job. I recognize that any experience I glean from this internship will be both exciting and highly valuable.
When and why did you become a diver?
Oct. 31, 2010, in a cold lake boasting approximately 5 feet of visibility, I finished my PADI Open Water certification. The immediate reason why I was certified on Halloween in 2010 was because I had a trip planned to the Dominican Republic in December of that year. The real reason I started diving though—the reason I have held since I was 8 years old—is I want to be a marine biologist. I saw this as the first step toward building a marine-based career. I also recognized this as the only way to trade in my snorkel for deeper dives, longer bottom times and less choking on salt water. In short, I became a diver because I love the ocean, and scuba diving seemed like the best way to explore it.
What do you love about diving?
The answer to what I love about diving is 500 pages long (or so). To save on time, I’ll highlight a few of my favorite things.
1. I love the ocean.
While I could write prose about the ocean that would rival a fifth grader’s poetry about her first boyfriend, I will save you the misfortune of reading that and just say: the ocean is magic. I love diving because it lets me feel like I belong to that incredible world.
2. I love the absurdity of scuba diving.
People can’t breathe underwater. But look! I’m doing it.
3. I love that it’s Zen.
After my first training dive I surfaced and said, “I feel like I’m doing yoga underwater.” When I go diving, my friends think I’m being adventurous and risky. I feel like I’m going on a mediation retreat, where I will magically burn 7000 calories. In my book, this is considered a win, win, win.
4. I love dive buddies.
I was on a dive in Hawaii when the divemaster said something to the effect of, “Scuba divers are the coolest people you’ll meet. They’re usually well-traveled, adventurous and laid back.” In my experience, this is completely true. Since I started diving, I have met a plethora of passionate, interesting people. And I guarantee every one of them would be willing to share their alternate air source if I ever needed it.
5. I love that my cell phone is not waterproof.
Every time I deflate my BCD, I am immersed (literally) into a foreign, astonishing, almost unbelievable world. For however long my air and no decompression limit last, I get to be part of this world, and with that, I get to leave behind the stress I carry on land. For 45 minutes or so, my cell phone does not ring and no one cares what my hair looks like. It feels like freedom. And I love that.