Ever wonder what it’s like to be a member of the NOAA Coast Survey team? We use the Coast Survey spotlight blog series as a way to periodically share the experiences of Coast Survey employees as they discuss their work, background, and advice.
John Doroba, physical scientist
“Once I saw the mission I was hooked. It was the best job a recent graduate who loved being in the field could ask for, especially when you get to travel all around the country. Where else could I practice my love for science, utilize my education, solve real world problems that serve a purpose, and directly impact people in a positive way?”
What is your job title, and how long have you worked for Coast Survey?
I am a physical scientist, and I have worked for Coast Survey for 10 years.
What were your experiences prior to working for Coast Survey?
I’ve worked at Coast Survey my entire career since January 2007 except for a brief stopover in dredging and beach replenishment. I worked for our navigation response teams (NRTs), Marine Chart Division, and aboard all of our hydrographic ships and some others before trying my hand at dredging. Upon returning to NOAA, I continued to work on the ships until I landed in my current position at the Hydrographic Systems and Technology Branch. Most of my experience prior to Coast Survey comes from my time at the University of Delaware where I had two independent studies – benthic mapping of Delaware Bay and geomorphology of treefalls -and spent time on the R/V Hugh R. Sharp performing hydrographic surveys and related operations.
Why is this work important?
The people in the field are the most critical part of the Coast Survey mission. They do the surveying, respond to emergencies, search for obstructions, and collect the data for updating charts. I support them by acting as a liaison for heavily used acquisition and processing software for hydrographic surveying. It can be stressful, but failures on my part become a burden to them so I do my best to support the mission by not failing the people doing the dirty work.
What drew you to this work?
I was drawn to this work randomly. I applied for jobs before I graduated college and NOAA offered me a job with the NRTs. Once I saw the mission I was hooked. It was the best job a recent graduate who loved being in the field could ask for, especially when you get to travel all around the country. Where else could I practice my love for science, utilize my education, solve real world problems that serve a purpose, and directly impact people in a positive way?
What aspects of your job are most exciting or rewarding to you?
Doing something for others is the best reason to do something. The most rewarding part of the job is helping people. The professional apex of that was the 2017 hurricane response in Puerto Rico. To be down there surveying ports so that food, water, medical supplies, and everyday items can get to people who need them most is incredibly gratifying. It wasn’t necessarily fun, but it was a once in a lifetime experience. I’m thankful to work for an organization that provides these emergency services and allows me to be in a position to help.
What advice would you give someone looking to pursue a career in your field?
I would say showing interest and being willing to do things that other people aren’t necessarily willing to do is the most important thing for someone pursuing a career in hydrographic surveying. I’ve worked with some incredibly smart people and some not so smart people (myself included), but the one thing about our niche industry is that it is not easy. No matter your intelligence, you have to be able to do things other people don’t want to do. It means sleeping on a roller coaster. It means sacrificing time with friends and family. It means odd schedules. It means you can take pride in that deprivation and endure because the satisfaction that comes from struggle is not easily found. The majority of people don’t realize the effort required to get them the things they use in their everyday lives. And that’s okay because you do.