Dream Summer Job

August 07, 2012

Matthew Bengtson ’15
Matthew Bengtson’s ’15 in the Bahamas.

Summer work in the college years isn’t always glamorous, but every once in a while a student lands a job his peers can’t help but envy. Matthew Bengtson’s ’15 summer job is a prime example. The environmental studies major just spent six weeks on board a boat in the British Virgin Islands and Bahamas teaching scuba diving and fish identification. 
“Usually the day would start at 8 a.m. followed by a dive, sail, or hike,” said Bengtson, who was employed by SeaTrek, a tropical sailing and diving summer camp for high school students. “I led many hiking trips that included spending time on deserted beaches, swimming with wild pigs, and jumping into caverns and off cliffs.”
In the Bahamas, Bengtson helped his students identify over 50 species of fish. “I gave presentations about the devastating effects of invasive lionfish and I taught them how to spear lionfish and dissect them as well. This summer was unforgettable.”
How did you become involved with SeaTrek?
I started as a student four years ago. I’ve always loved the ocean and had always wanted to learn how to scuba dive. My first year with Seatrek in 2009 was in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) for three weeks. It was then than I got my open water and advanced diver certifications. The following summer, I went on their voyage to Hawaii in which we dove five times a day for the first week and explored the islands the second week. After my summer in Hawaii, I knew that I wanted to be more involved with the program. So, I applied to be an intern for the summer 2011 and I was accepted.

I was in the Virgin Islands for six weeks during this internship, and I got my rescue diver and dive master certifications all while helping run the boats, entertain the students, cook, lead dives, guide hikes, and mentor. The dive master certification puts me at the professional level in the diving industry.
After my first year as an intern, I proposed and had approved a new position at Seatrek—the assistant internship coordinator position. Over the winter, I worked with the intern coordinator interviewing and reviewing applications for the 2012 interns.
This summer I worked for Seatrek in the British Virgin Islands for the first three weeks and then co-led their Bahamas explorer voyage. Besides working as a dive master and the assistant intern coordinator, I also was the main photographer for the Bahamas voyage.

What did you love about this experience?
I loved the positive feedback that I got from the students. It was evident that they all looked up to me and they enjoyed my company as a staff member. I grew a lot as a leader this summer because of this experience, especially on the Bahamas explorer trip where it was just myself and one other staff member, not including the crew of the boat we charted.

Did you enjoy teaching?
The fish identification courses that I taught were very rewarding. The students had genuine enthusiasm for what I was teaching and they would always try to impress me with what they had learned. Teaching these classes has led me to consider the possibility of a career in education.

What do you love about diving and being under the sea?
There is so much peace while diving. You can only hear your own breathing and the only communication with other divers is through hand signals. All of your problems and worries can be left on shore or on the boat.
Will you do this again next summer?
Yes, next summer I hope to be back with Seatrek. In the next couple of years, I would like to get my pilots license and, after I graduate, go to a flight school to eventually get a job as a private airline pilot. I also want to teach diving on the side once I get my instructor certification.


By Kristen Manieri

Office of Marketing & Communications
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