Reeling in work experience through his Green Job

January 23, 2020

Andre smiling and holding a fish in his hands in a boat on a river

André Killeen holding a smallmouth bass, caught on Big Rideau Lake this past summer. Photo: André Killeen

As an avid outdoor enthusiast, André Killeen was thrilled to spend his summer on Big Rideau Lake near Ottawa as a Research Assistant for Carleton University, where he is completing an Environmental Science degree. André has always loved being in nature, having spent his childhood camping and fishing with his friends and family. It is his love for being outside that inspired him to get a green job. “I wanted a meaningful job that reflected my own values and allowed me to contribute to the change I want to see,” André shared.

Catching, tagging, data gathering

His days began at sunrise and consisted of catching and tagging fish for 8-10 hours, rain or shine, along with his team. André’s work contributed to a three-year study led by PhD student Jordanna Bergman and Professor Steven Cooke about how invasive species travel in the Rideau Lake system. The team gathered data on northern pike and largemouth bass to create a baseline of how native species behave. They also collected data for round goby, an invasive species, and common carp as a proxy for another invasive species, the Asian carp. André helped with electrofishing, a technique for catching fish using high-voltage currents. He also assisted in inserting small emitting tags in the fish’s stomach that communicated with receivers and helped track fish movements in the canal.

New skills and impactful research lead to job satisfaction

André is passionate about the importance of his green job. “I was doing work that will have a direct impact on how we manage native and invasive species in the Rideau system,” he emphasized. André also gained a deeper appreciation for ecosystems as he learned more about the waterway. Thanks to his PLT Canada-funded Green Job, he developed important new technical skills, such as electrofishing and fish tagging. These skills were not only essential to the project with Jordanna Bergman but will also likely be useful later in his career. 

Although his tasks proved to be tougher than he anticipated, he says that “working with scientists doing real, impactful research was the most enriching aspect” of his job. Despite difficult tasks and long workdays, André admits the experience further improved his work ethic and gave him a glimpse of what employers expect in the real world.

Real-world experience critical to career path

He also believes his green job puts him in a more competitive position for the kinds of opportunities he wants, especially as a soon-to-be graduate. He explained that many of the jobs he is interested in require hands-on experience. That kind of experience is difficult to obtain in a classroom setting. André is inspired to keep pursuing a green career and is currently looking into positions for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. He is even thinking of eventually doing a master’s degree!

Learn more about PLT Canada’s Green Job opportunities


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