gina lusardi photographer go pro graduate

Meet Gina – Go Pro Graduate and Passionate Ocean Advocate

A Reflection on Go Pro

Go Pro Costa Rica has sprung from an idea over 12 years ago to a passion and a brand. Being able to teach budding PADI Professionals over these many years has introduced me to a wide array of characters and taught me many lessons myself. It has only build my passion for the underwater world amongst many things, and the range of courses and programs that I develop has only fueled that even more.

gina in the idc

One of the many questions I get asked often is what happens when you leave the program. After training so many individuals over the years I can honestly say “anything”. What do you want to happen? So to answer that in a slightly better manner I have asked some of my awesome graduates to give us an update on what they are up to in the scuba diving world. They are to me, some truly “powerhouse” women and men that I am proud to say I have taught and I was privileged to be part of their career training, whether they are still in the scuba world or not.

Without further delay, first of these interviews, let me introduce Gina Lusardi who first came to us in 2014. An extremely driven and passionate ocean advocate who returned later on to complete further training. Personally, watching anyone strive forward in the dive industry is great, but especially watching women do it is even more exciting.

Georgia King – Director of Training , Go Pro Costa Rica

Hola Gina!

Where are you currently residing and what is your level of involvement in the scuba industry?

I have recently moved to Seattle, Washington, after completing a Master’s degree at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. I was lucky enough to get a job with the premier underwater photography equipment company in the Pacific Northwest, Optical Ocean Sales LLC. This job required me to not only be an avid diver but also to have underwater photography experience.

The traveling I have done as a result of being a part of the dive industry was also a factor in being hired for this very niche job.  While the day to day duties do not get me in the water at this time, I have been learning invaluable information about sales and what it takes to run a small business. As a bonus I also get to test out some demo gear and write reviews about my experiences with photography gear and dive travel. Since moving to Seattle, I have also joined the most active dive club in the area in order to meet new people and network within the local dive community. 

When did you complete your course in Costa Rica and what course was it?

training costa rica

I first went to Costa Rice in October 2014 to complete an instructor internship with an emphasis on social media outreach. Upon completion of the internship I was rated to a MSDT with specialty instructor ratings in Deep, Underwater Naturalist, Fish ID, Enriched Air, Emergency Oxygen Provider and Equipment Specialist. During this time I also completed the first adaptive learning course held by Oceans Unlimited.

After working as an instructor and dive guide in Australia under a work and travel visa, I returned to Costa Rica in 2017 to complete the IDC Staff Instructor training. During this time, I also become a marine conservation research instructor, an underwater photography and videography instructor. 

What skills on your course did you learn in your time there that you think really benefited you in your career?

When looking for jobs in the dive industry, the top 4 themes that interview questions would revolve around would always be in regards to safety, experience/knowledge, sales and gear maintenance; skills that would make a well-rounded employee. Throughout my training I learned all of these skills which have been vital to my career. The emphasis on safety is probably one of the biggest take-a-ways in having a successful carrier in the dive industry. Focusing on safety can not only prevent dive emergencies but also save lives when accidents do occur. 

In addition, having extensive practice in guiding and teaching helped me to be a confident leader. Another big advantage was learning gear maintenance and servicing. The ability to maintain gear is a desirable skill for many companies, especially in remote locations. I don’t consider myself a salesman, but I do know how to push products that I can stand behind in terms of quality and performance. While sales weren’t hugely emphasized during my training, there was a module that discussed the need for sales in running a successful business. This module did help me later on, when working in a resort on the Great Barrier Reef.

As far a personal growth as a diver, the diving conditions in the area provided a major advantage in learning navigation and safety skills. While currents weren’t necessarily an issue, surge, low visibility and thermoclines provided ideal training conditions that have made me an overall better diver and instructor. It is said that the three biggest factors in making for challenging dive conditions are temperature, current and visibility. I can honestly say that I experienced all of those conditions while training in Costa Rica. All of the diving conditions I experienced prepared me for diving world-wide. Since Costa Rica I have been diving in British Columbia, the Great Barrier Reef, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Red Sea and Seattle. 

What was your favorite part of your training?

after an IE

My favorite part about my dive training was the camaraderie amongst trainers and trainees that facilitated a great learning environment. In addition, the ability to dive regularly was something that kept me motivated throughout the training process and gave me a change to clear my head after hours of studying.

What additional skills that were not part of the standard curriculum did you learn that benefited your career?

The opportunities to go above and beyond the required training was really beneficial over all. During my training I was able lead projects for dive for debris and shark conservation. Independent studies in marine conservation and photography really allowed me to stand out from other dive professionals when applying for jobs.

What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to work in the scuba industry?

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be successful in the dive industry. It is important to get the most out of your training so that you are comfortable to start working immediately. This is not a career choice for people looking to get rich. It is a lifestyle choice for people who love diving and teaching.

If you love to travel and want to travel the world working as a dive instructor, it may be even more challenging. A lot of jobs, especially in highly prized dive locations, will expect you to work long hours for not a lot of pay. This is not to say that these places are bad, but do be careful not to get burnt out working too much. If there is any great advice I can give, it is to allow yourself one fun dive a week (minimum) so that you can enjoy diving for yourself, not just for work. 

Three words to describe your time at Go Pro?

Dynamic, friendship, laughter

Dynamic, Friendship, Laughter

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