How Kyle came to choose aquaculture

Kyle Crossan (23) spent last summer as an intern at the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) head office in Stirling. He did such an impressive job that at the end of his internship, he was offered a post as Research Analyst on a part-time basis, to complement his University of Stirling studies. Hot on the heels of his recent Life Sciences Internship Award win, we catch up with Kyle to hear more about his decision to choose aquaculture.

Q: During your SAIC internship, you created a video that encourages others to choose a career in this sector. The video has gone down a storm and is now at the centre of a wider #ChooseAquaculture campaign. What was your inspiration for the video, and did you expect it to take off like this?

A: In all honesty, I must credit my partner John for a nudge in the direction I took. I feel linking my video to Trainspotting – the  “best Scottish film of all time” as voted by the general public – would make it relatable and ensure that the inspiration behind it would be widely understood. I was very much surprised by how popular the video has become, and the extent to which people in industry have already picked up on it (not that I’m complaining).

Q: What else can you tell us about SAIC’s plans for the campaign – where can people expect to see your video cropping up, for example?

A: Naturally, SAIC’s social media outlets will feature the video for all to see; however, I’ve also been approached by representatives from Marine Scotland, Lantra and others, who are keen to help promote the video. It has been suggested that it could be shown in Scottish Government buildings for a month to promote aquaculture, which I would consider to be a huge success for the video itself.

Q: So, what made you choose your line of study and the SAIC internship – and have you decided which direction you’d like to take going forward?

A: I originally studied pharmacology with a view toward medicine, but decided it was not for me. I took some time away from education and decided I’d like to somehow combine my love for biology and science with my passion for angling. I chose to study marine biology at the University of Stirling. After turning down an interview in my first year for a fishery internship, I reapplied and was offered an internship with SAIC after my second year. As a result, I am now 100% sure that aquaculture is the industry in which I would like to work, and I plan to do an MSc in Aquatic Pathobiology after my undergraduate course.

Q: Your video focusses on the wide range of career options that are available within aquaculture. Can you tell us about some of the varied tasks you undertook during your internship?

A: My internship was brilliant: I saw a side to aquaculture I hardly knew existed and despite being in an office most of the summer, I completed a variety of tasks and mini-projects that, only a few months ago, I would never have thought relevant to the industry. I spent time ascertaining how much of Scottish seas is currently used for salmon farming; I explored the potential use for a new CRM system within the organisation; I learned about reporting from SAIC’s Financial Controller; was taught how to extract relevant information from different reports; and I organised a presentation event in collaboration with Skillfluence, for aquaculture interns to showcase the work they undertook during the summer. These are just a few of the tasks I managed with the support of the innovation team, the CEO Heather Jones and the marketing & communications team – all of whom were a tremendous support during the course of my internship.

Q: Your SAIC colleagues have been enjoying your superb baking skills. Who do you predict to win the Great British Bake-off, and have you ever considered entering the show?

A: Bake-off has been exciting this year (although I do still feel Mary Berry is missing) and although we cannot discount Rahul from the running, I feel Manon is a dark horse and could claw her way to the top. I considered applying last year but left it a little late (the application form is very long). However, I do plan on sending in an application next year. You never know – one day I might receive the famous Paul Hollywood handshake…

Q: Rumour has it you recently got engaged, Kyle – congratulations! How will you manage to fit wedding plans into your busy work-life and studies?

A: I like to think I have great organisational skills that will come in useful, but in all honesty, I’ll need every ounce of support from my wonderful partner. I’d love a 2020 wedding, so we’d better start the venue hunt pretty soon.

Q: Finally, Kyle – you’ve just won a Life Sciences Internship Award, your video is about to be broadcast far and wide, and you’ve represented SAIC at a number of high-profile events. Are you enjoying all the razzmatazz, or would you rather be trout fishing?

A: There is no denying it, I am very much enjoying seeing how everything is beginning to unfold with regards to my video and building a network within the industry. Having said that, a few quiet hours on a loch, alone with my fishing rod and my thoughts, would be pretty hard to beat.