“Never disdain an apprenticeship with no pay.” -Robert Greene

Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

I’ve been at the Academy of Natural Sciences as a volunteer for six months now. This has often included walking from my parking spot behind the Art Museum or walking from the Race station on Broad Street to the museum. Of course, the walking has to do with me not having the money to pay for parking and actually being on the city’s tow list. Being broke is no fun. But Science Now at Science Live certainly is. It’s a lot of fun being able to sit down behind a desk with marble tops and post displays and activities for Philadelphia’s museum goers to enjoy. It’s also tons of fun talking to kids on field trips and getting them excited to learn about science and current events relating to scientific studies. It’s not always fun dealing with the kids when they don’t listen or make messes, but that’s what children do; I can deal with it. It’s also less fun when I see adults who bring the kids to the museum and are disinterested in what we are trying to do at Science Live. Rest assured, I love being able to come to the museum, pay or not, and do something I love doing and I truly believe this is another starting point to a great career. 

I got “hired” to volunteer at the Academy in November of 2015 due to, what I assume to be, a combination of my education and docent experience at the Mutter Museum. A month after I moved back to Philadelphia last year while I was looking for a job, I decided to look for other kinds of opportunities more related to the work I’ve done as an undergraduate. I majored in Anthropology and I was proud and happy that it was such a broad and wide ranging field.

Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

My only regret is not having biology as a minor. At the Mutter Museum I would greet my guests and explain museum policies before my tour. While I showed people around the museum giving very detailed and accurate insight into top exhibits for my guests to enjoy I struggled with memorizing certain facts and sometimes found the work to be slightly unfulfilling. I had wished my “boss” would give me more structure and made sure that her docents were highly qualified with deep inside knowledge of the exhibits instead of letting us memorize and study them on our own, shadow a docent with more seniority, and sending us on our way. It felt as if she wasn’t expecting much from us. I was often embarrassed and felt like a fraud when people in my group would ask me questions to which I didn’t know the answer. I hated that feeling and I felt guilty. Like maybe I didn’t belong there. So, as I do with every challenge, I worked hard to make sure I knew everything I could know and be one of the best docents there. This lasted for six months, until I decided to leave and join the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Thankfully, I have a great reference from the Mutter Museum which I am eternally grateful for. 

When I started volunteering at the Academy I loved it. I felt like I just might be going somewhere in this whole creating a career thing. I even spoke to my USC archaeology professor about it and he seemed to like he approved. So I went with it and took it all in. I’ve looked into the various programs and departments involving the Academy and even visited the library that’s reserved for permanent and visiting scholars. I’ve made friends at Science Now that I can see growing with for a long time. It was also boring and sometimes seemed pointless as to why I was there. I asked a guy I work with why he decided to volunteer and he said “it’s something to do, I guess”; very reassuring. I wanted more than just something to do, I wanted to be successful, even though I was only a volunteer. 

I wanted to be somebody with a great body of work behind them. Somebody who made monumental discoveries and changed the world. A biologist with amazing capabilities is how I saw myself. Although family members still disagreed and hated hard. I knew I would someday accomplish this and I just can’t wait until it finally happens. 

At Science Now I spend a lot of time talking about very serious current events happening worldwide that involve, you guessed it, natural sciences. Things like geology, earthquakes, droughts, and biodiversity are just a few of the topics I cover. Tomorrow I’ll be talking about the continuing, record breaking, historic drought in California and I’ll try and bring awareness to the visitors as well as grow personally from giving such awareness so appropriately. What’s a more appropriate place to discuss drought than the Academy of Natural Sciences? With that being a great platform, I can reach many people and help create a better world. Something I’m constantly grateful for. Indeed, I’ve gained much from volunteering at the Academy, but I also love giving back to the community through my phenomenal teaching method and awareness raising. When my shift is up I leave the museum feeling determined and fulfilled. 

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About the Author Isaiah Dix

Hi. I'm a millennial blogger who loves living things large and small, people of all shades, and the world at large.

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