Go Pro Costa Rica Divemaster Internship Summer of 2013
Eric Schiferl (DM 329411, Cert. Summer 2013)
My experience with Oceans Unlimited was nothing short of amazing, from the hands-on work experience to the challenging (yet FUN) diving. After it was all said and done I had earned 7 PADI certifications through Oceans Unlimited. The home-stay family that Georgia arranged for me to stay with was wonderful! And, besides diving there are many opportunities to do other activities, such as surfing and hiking, and to truly get a taste of the Costa Rica experience.
The diving was a blast! However, it is not for the feint of heart. I did my GoPro Internship during Costa Rica’s rainy season. This meant that the conditions were more challenging (surge, low visibility, and rapidly changing conditions on the good days), which really causes you to first learn how to be a competent, self-sufficient diver before you can start learning how to guide and be a dive leader. Diving in adverse conditions also gave me a chance to really appreciate that the conditions should not have an effect on a dive being considered a “good dive” or a “bad dive”; rather, it is more on what you see and learn. I learned quickly that tough conditions just meant that you had to go a little slower and “get down and dirty” to see the amazing things that are in the ocean. Diving in constantly changing conditions really made each dive a more personal, introspective experience.
I cannot say that I was looking forward to the “shoplife” part of the GoPro experience, but that was where I probably learned the most. The facilities that Oceans Unlimited offers are second to no other shop that I have dove with (especially considering that they are outside the US). Bob works hard to keep his shop running to the same standards or even higher than shops within the US. Before participating in the GoPro Internship I barely knew how to change an O-ring on a tank, now I feel comfortable taking apart the first and second stages of my regulator to clean them. Being able to get the PADI Equipment Specialty in-house from Georgia and JT is a great advantage if you want to learn about fixing and servicing SCUBA gear. The amount of SCUBA knowledge that is within the shop in unmatched. Between Bob, Georgia, JT, and Ileana if you have a problem, the likelihood is that they will be able to assist in figuring it out. Other than fixing things and filling tanks I also learned a little on how the shop was run. This included learning about selling merchandise and answering tough questions on the phone and to always be honest and professional. Learning how to deal with all sorts of people from all sorts of cultures was really challenging, yet rewarding.
The overall experience and the amount I learned during the GoPro Internship with Oceans Unlimited was way more than I ever could have expected. I walked in to the shop as an inexperienced fun diver (even though I though I knew it all) and left not only as a better diver, but also a changed person. Over the course of my 8 week internship I grew to see my fellow DMTs and the rest of the shop as family. The nights on the porch at the homestay, El Gran Escape after a long day of dives, Deco and Pandora bugging Damian, and the general shenanigans made this experience one of the most memorable times of my life. I would recommend this internship to anybody that wants to take their diving to the next level and learn about what it really means to be a PADI dive professional.