This fall, Marija Chakalova got to work for her dream employer. Before immigrating to Canada from Macedonia, Chakalova was fascinated by the Vancouver Aquarium and all the marine biology that called it home. She had always been interested in a career in biology and when she learned about the Vancouver School Board's Work Study Experience, she thought it could be a great fit.
"The first time I heard of it was this year in school and it was like music to my ear," she says.
The Grade 12 King George Secondary student was hopeful that her placement would give her an opportunity to look behind the curtain of the aquarium. Her expectations were more than realized. For the next three weeks Chakalova worked as a customer service volunteer along with 15 other district students. During her time at the aquarium, she supported customer service staff and drew on her knowledge of marine biology to answer the plethora of questions customers had about the aquarium and the marine life living there.
She says one of her favorite parts about the experience was the opportunity to take a leadership role. Radio in hand, Chakalova would patrol the aquarium floor answering questions and running activities (like face painting) for visiting elementary school children.
"I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed it. I was learning so much already, and I felt more driven than ever before," she says.
The King George student says her job at the aquarium provided a wonderful opportunity to gain valuable work experience and learn about two of her favorite things - animals and people.
"If there is ever a good teacher, it is real-life experience," she says.
To learn more about work experience at the Vancouver School Board, click here.