Stephanie Gad: Advice from a current fellow

Author: Stephanie Gad
Fellow Type: California Sea Grant State Fellow
Year(s) of Fellowship: 2018
Host Agency: Port of San Diego

Dear future fellow,

You are going to learn A LOT over the course of your fellowship, and I am so excited for you! Here are just a few (of many) things I’ve learned along the way that I hope you’ll find helpful.

Travel wisely

Take full advantage of your travel stipend, and go to every conference, workshop, and/or training event that you can! This will give you the opportunity to expand your network, meet incredible people, and explore new places.

When I traveled to Washington, D.C. for Capitol Hill Ocean Week last June, I had the chance to meet and learn from professionals in ocean policy whom I greatly admire—meeting Dr. Steve Gittings, chief scientist for NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries, being a highlight. I was also able to develop and strengthen friendships with other fellows while exploring our nation’s capital.

Images of State Fellow Stephanie Gad
(Left) California Sea Grant fellows Whitney Berry, Abby Newman, Flower Moye, Stephanie Gad, Laura Schwebel, and Nicole Hack at Capitol Hill Ocean Week; (Right) Stephanie and Laura at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

Between the cost of the matching workshop and our fellowship update meeting, your travel stipend can run out pretty quickly. Here are a few tips to help stretch it out:

  • Go grocery shopping for on-the-go meals and snacks instead of having every meal out.
  • If you’re visiting a place where another fellow lives, see if you can stay with them. This will save you the cost of a hotel and it’s a great opportunity to get to know and bond with your class — especially if you live in a location with few, or no, other fellows.
  • Coordinate your travel with other fellows attending the same event. Splitting the cost of a hotel or transportation will help reduce travel costs. Also, as an added bonus, it’s another opportunity to hang out with other fellows. (Your fellow fellows are AMAZING — get to know them!)

California Sea Grant State Fellows in Bodega Bay
Class of 2018 California Sea Grant State Fellows at the fellowship update meeting in Bodega Bay.

Changes can be daunting

I’m going to be very honest with you here. This year will be incredible, but also sometimes overwhelming — and that’s OKAY. If at any point in your fellowship you start to feel overwhelmed, I’m here to tell you that these feelings are totally normal; you are not alone. Remember that you are smart and capable, and just like any new job, your fellowship will have an adjustment period.

I started my very first day at the Port of San Diego by attending a department staff meeting and spent most of it thinking, “I have no idea what anyone is talking about.” Experiences like these — the ones that are sometimes scary and overwhelming at first — push us to learn, grow, and in turn make us better. The relationships you cultivate, networks you build, and lessons you learn during your fellowship will be more than worth every feeling of nervousness and anxiety that you might face. You’ve made it this far, we all believe in you, and this is a reminder to believe in yourself, too!

Focus on you

Last but not least:  Avoid the temptation to compare yourself to others. I’m referring to other fellows, co-workers, ANYONE. This year is yours to learn, make the most of it! Your fellowship is yours and no one else’s.

I’m so excited for you to embark on this new adventure! Best of luck!

Steph Gad

California Sea Grant State Fellows Laura and Stephanie
California Sea Grant State Fellows Laura and Stephanie volunteer at the Port’s Health and Sustainability Fair, a clean-up event, and STEMFEST2018.