Let’s meet Brendan. He came to us back in 2013 and completed both his PADI Divemaster and instructor programs. He is now a dive safety officer in Conneticut and loving his scuba job. We caught up with him to see if he had some tips and advice for other budding dive professionals. On a personal note, I have to add that during his time with us that summer, I don’t remember laughing so hard as I did during our PADI IE road trip. The Caño dive trip with the motley crew of Divemaster and instructor trainees and everyday craziness in general. Here is the video again and a particular photo from the trip. It’s not often you find a dinosaur in Costa Rica!
Where are you currently residing and what is your level of involvement in the scuba industry?
I currently live in Norwalk, Connecticut which is about an hour north of New York City. I work full time in the scuba industry as the Dive Safety Officer at The Maritime Aquarium. My job is to manage all diving operations conducted by the aquarium which includes exhibit diving and scientific diving in the field. The aquarium has approximately 35 volunteer divers who dive three days a week and primarily conduct a presentation from our shark tank. We also have about 15 staff divers who dive for a variety of husbandry and general maintenance reasons.
When did you complete your course in Costa Rica and what course was it?
I completed several courses with Go Pro over the course of three months starting in June 2013. After getting laid off from Bank of America earlier in 2013, I decided to chase a dream and pursue my Divemaster rating. I spoke with a few different shops but after the first couple emails with Georgia knew Go Pro was where I wanted to go. I completed a DM internship, several diver specialties, my Master Scuba Diver rating and attended an IDC. By the time I left Costa Rica I was an OWSI with five instructor specialties in addition to the ones you automatically get.
What skills on your course did you learn in your time there that you think really benefited you in your career?
More than just skills, I learned what it was like to not only be a dive instructor but to be a good dive educator and member of the community. Go Pro ran challenging courses and emphasized attention to detail and strict adherence to standards. I learned how to slow down and take the extra time for detailed briefings and extended skill practice when needed.
I also learned that it’s ok to actually call dives and safety is always first. Because of these lessons I have been able to identify and avoid the shops that only care about pushing people through. Any shop that pressures their instructors to pass all students even when they’re not ready or dive in conditions that they are uncomfortable with is not one that I want to associate with. I learned how a dive operation should run and that is the model I use for my program at the aquarium.
What was your favorite part of your training?
I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience but I’d have to say the people made my trip. From my instructors who challenged me and who also kept me in check when I would get a bit too overconfident to my fellow trainees who I bonded with through training and exploring Quepos, in three months I made friendships that have lasted over six years already.
What additional skills that were not part of the standard curriculum did you learn that benefited your career?
The gear maintenance practice I got has helped immensely. I got the chance to do visuals on several tanks and rebuild several regulators. This gave me a great intro to getting some gear technician ratings which helps me in my role so I can fix our equipment in house without having to send it out saving us lots of time and money.
What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to work in the scuba industry?
It’s going to sound like a sports apparel commercial but work hard and don’t be afraid to chase your dreams. There is no traditional path to joining this industry so never let anyone tell you it’s not possible and don’t doubt yourself or your abilities. Since becoming a dive instructor I knew my best chance to becoming a DSO was to get as much experience teaching and working at aquariums as possible.
Up until working at The Maritime Aquarium I worked full time jobs in finance and spent my nights and weekends instructing and volunteering as a diver at local aquariums. It could be a grind at times working 70-80+ hour weeks and even deflating when I would interview for DSO roles and get turned down but it was all totally worth it. I get to wake up every day and go to a job I love. Regardless of your background or current level of dive training, it’s never too late to jump in!
Three words to describe your time at Go Pro?
Best Time Ever! The three months I spent with Go Pro will be something I remember the rest of my life. I can not thank the crew at Go Pro enough for providing me a such solid foundation for me to build my career on. Go Pro started me on a path that lead me to my dream job.