Friday Feature: Former Student Yasmeen Smalley

Okay…. So it’s another late ‘Friday’ Feature of a former student, but what teacher ever cares about deadlines anyway?!

We move from Dan, whose journey didn’t include college, to Yasmeen, who’s just left campus to dip her toes in some interesting waters…..

Yasmeen Smalley

Hi Metz,

First of all, I love this idea!! It’s great to give current college students inspiration from us graduates “in the real world.” I know I was freaking out my senior year!

I actually graduated this past December after spending my last semester as an undergraduate studying abroad in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The program was for marine science and conservation, and the whole program was a great experience! I was in the water constantly, whether snorkeling, scuba diving or doing some underwater photography. I think that every student should try studying abroad.

Cool camera!

Cool camera!

So now that I’m “in the real world” I’ve relocated to the greater Boston area, where I’m currently interning at the New England Aquarium in the Conservation department. As with most aquarium internships, it is unpaid, so I’m working part-time as a barista to pay for the commute into Beantown. Life as a college grad can be rough financially, especially in the artistic or nonprofit fields, but in a way it makes it even more rewarding.

On a personal note, I just got engaged to another one of your students, Mike Norman! I’m sure he’ll be emailing you with his own adventures 🙂

Metzler as match-maker?  Hmmmm....

Metzler as match-maker? Hmmmm….


One thing that I’ve done and that I do constantly is always try to educate myself and gain experience. This is crucial for the field that I’ve chosen (underwater photography) as it is so competitive. I’ve done this by interning at both the Georgia Aquarium and now the New England Aquarium, by volunteering for local marine nonprofits, and by networking and staying connected to contacts in the industry. You can’t take a break from this either;  it has to be a constant process of learning and improving your skills.

However, there’s always time to relax and take a break.  Some things I enjoy doing to keep myself sane include cooking/baking for fun, hot yoga and embracing my nerdy side by playing videogames.

I would advise undergraduates not only to take advantage of every resource available on campus, but also to learn as much as possible, even if you don’t think you will need the knowledge. As a graduate I wish I had taken more science courses, even as a photography student.

Hey fishes, I can see your house from here!

Hey fishes, I can see your house from here!

Another thing I would advise is to believe in yourself, have confidence in your skills and brace yourself for rejection, especially in a creative field. Since graduating I’ve learned that rejection is not something you face only once or twice- at times it can feel constant. But by believing in yourself and your abilities (much harder said than done!) you can persevere and find success.