An Outdoor Enthusiast’s Guide to the Office Life: 5 Practices to Aid the Transition to the Great Indoors


Guest blogger: Desmond Ho (MESM 2017)

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) is home to some of the brightest oceanographic researchers in the world – mapping uncharted territory through deep sea exploration, working to assess the health of the ocean, and studying the effects climate change has on our marine systems. They truly are advancing research in ocean science and technology. And me? After six years of working in the great outdoors, I am working at a desk.  (Bear with me.)

This summer I am working on communicating the new research our MBARI scientists are doing to monitor and understand the effects ocean acidification here on the West Coast. But as a former outdoor educator with a penchant for outdoor play, the transition to a 9-5 was an adjustment. Should you find yourself fantasizing about teleporting to the scenic background on your screen, I offer five tips for a smoother transition.

  1. Take a break! During your transition, the computer screen will entice you to become best friends with it using the internet and data as a spell. Do not fall for it! Take a 15 minute break as often as your work will allow, go outside, go for a walk. Remember that the only thing separating you and the outdoors is a wall and a door. Invite coworkers – it is a great way to meet others that might share the same love for the outdoors. Also, these walks can refresh your mind and help you focus on the work ahead.
  2. Dine outdoors! Do not eat your lunch indoors – always go outside and eat under a tree or at the beach if you are fortunate to work near one. I challenge you to find a unique place to eat your lunch each week. My most recent spot was a drift wood canopy someone built on the beach as a wind blocker.
  3. Use your down time! Pick an outdoor hobby and pursue it at every opportunity. Underwater photography is my passion, and this summer I have taken advantage of the productive waters of Monterey. At the end of the work day, instead of driving home, and staring at yet another screen (computer, phone, TV), I try to go diving. No matter how tired you may be at the end of the day, I can almost guarantee that you will feel better after doing that activity.
  4. Go explore! Chances are good that you will be somewhere new for your internship or job. Invite friends and coworkers to go for a hike or get in the water. They probably have been itching to go but never had an awesome outdoor enthusiast like you to go with. Start the trend! You never know how many people may be interested.
  5. Expand your network! Unless you are living in a town of 100 (in which case going outdoors should not be a problem), there are many clubs and other organizations that you can join to get outside with. You never know who you might meet! I have met ten people that worked at the same outdoor education facility prior to me.

True, the work I am doing is not outside. But the work is important and it helps the public understand that MBARI is not just about deep sea research: their impact includes monitoring surface oceanic conditions, assessing the changes caused by climate change, and ocean acidification to name a few. Living in Monterey has allowed me to pursue my hobby and gain valuable experience in underwater photography at a new location. Someone who experienced the same transition told me “think of the office as a new type of forest, there are different things to explore, and you can find the beauty in it in a different way.”

Desmond Ho is a second year MESM student (2017) focusing in Coastal Marine Resource Management.  

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