Meet Terra Lathrop
Describe your job here at the Aquarium.
I'm a security supervisor in the Security Department—it's a subdivision of Guest Experience. It's very team oriented. We have about 20 members including our on-call staff, and I don't think people realize that we're a really tight-knit group. We all know about each other's families and we interact really well.
What experience or skills do you need to work in this field?
To be a supervisor you have to have experience supervising, and you have a background in something like program development or some sort of leadership. You need to have a clean driving background because speeding tickets matter—your driving record counts and a lot of people think that it doesn't. You also need a high school diploma.
Then you have to have an assertive self-awareness, essentially the ability to deal with confrontations with guests. You also need to be personable. We're more interactive, so you need to have the personality that allows you to interact with guests. We expect all of our officers to have a certain knowledge base about the Aquarium, the exhibits, the animals and the functionality of the building as a whole. We also do a lot of minor medicals and first-aid medicals for guests.
"It's important to keep yourself in a position of physical health since you're not just protecting yourself, you're protecting the rest of the team."
What did you study?
I was in the Navy for eight years. I was an aviation search and rescue stormer. I jumped out of helicopters to save distressed individuals out in the middle of the ocean. I separated in 2010, and then I moved down to San Diego where I went to college at San Diego State. Because it was impacted, I transferred up to CSU Monterey Bay to finish my bachelor's.
What do you like most about your job?
I get to mentor on a regular basis, but at the same time there's still a lot for me to learn. You don't learn all of your knowledge base right up front and then go into a leadership role. You're constantly learning. I'm learning a lot more about marine biology, marine mammals and things like that.
What's your advice for students interested in your career?
It's important to keep yourself in a position of physical health since you're not just protecting yourself, you're protecting the rest of the team. Have an understanding of time management, operational logistics, thinking outside the box, knowing the foundation of everything and being able to apply that to real-world situations that are constantly changing.
What's your favorite Aquarium experience?
There's a lot of really fun stuff we get to do. The supervisors rotate so there's a portion of time where I do daytime stuff. Then there's a portion, for three months or so, where I transfer to nighttime—we get to work all of the events at night and that's always really fun. It goes from dinners to dive shows. It's constantly changing.