How to Become a Marine Biologist: Interview With Aleks Burns

This is the first in a series of interviews with students that won a $1,000 scholarship from Find Your Calling in partnership with Clark Little. 

What would you do if you knew your dream career and were nearing the brink of graduation, but hadn’t found the right college yet? Exactly what Aleks Burns plans on doing: Using Find Your Calling to compare colleges across the nation to discover the best program for his career goals.

Aleks Burns
Aleks Burns, winner of the first $1K scholarship from Find Your Calling.

Aleks, a junior from Stillwater, Minnesota, and the first winner of our 10-week scholarship series, has known in his bones for a while now what he is called to do: become a marine biologist. While plenty of 17-year-olds may have already figured out their callings—like Aleks—far too many are unsure of their own interests and overwhelmed by the stampede of career and education options. Fortunately, Aleks’s personal story offers advice for both types.

Below, we chat with Aleks about his career ambitions and how Find Your Calling helps students plan their futures.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Has that changed as you’ve gotten older?

related careers
Marine biologist is a subset of zoologist and wildlife biologist. Aleks can see related careers at one glance on Find Your Calling.

I’ve always wanted to work with fish and aquatics. I’ve pursued my dream of becoming a marine biologist ever since I learned what a marine biologist does.

It’s still my goal today, but Find Your Calling gave me a few other ideas too. I really liked the job suggestions. There were a lot of jobs I had never heard of before! I was especially interested in finding out more about being a natural sciences manager.

What do you think the main challenges are for students your age today?

Stress!! There is so much stress on the youth today whether it’s grades, test scores, getting a job, paying tuition, etc. My mom is wonderful about this and I am lucky to have her. She has me focus on taking my time, making sure of my choices, and selecting something I really want to do and love—rather than obsessing about the cost of college so much. She says of course we have to be realistic about paying for it, but there’s no sense in paying for something you don’t like.

Amen to that! So have you started thinking about college?

My mom has gone over the costs with me. She told me that lots of companies and organizations offer scholarships, so I should google to see what’s out there. She’s also encouraged me to research job fields that I think I might like before I get to college. That’s actually how I discovered Find Your Calling—by googling these. 

Have you picked a college yet? What are your priorities? (Tuition, location, classes, your friends are going, etc.)

school snapshot
A snapshot of University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, one of the nearby options for Aleks. He can get similar snapshots for thousands of colleges around the country.

I haven’t fully started the school search yet, but will very soon. I plan on using FYC to help me. There are a few schools I am thinking about and it’s really based on the marine biology program at this point.

What’s the best thing about FYC?

Today, the best thing about FYC is of course this scholarship and the help, but I also like the career options it has shown me outside what I was originally thinking. So thank you—this is truly wonderful!

Interested in becoming a marine biologist? Visit Find Your Calling to discover YOUR career match. Click here to see how Find Your Calling helps you compare thousands of colleges across the US. Hit me up at

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