University of Vermont

Nate Berg

Undergraduate student, community development and applied economics major

Nate Berg already has his dream job lined up when he graduates. The hours are terrible, it's physically demanding, and his dad was hoping for a different career path. But as far as Berg is concerned, it doesn't get any better than captaining your own lobster boat on the Atlantic Ocean every day.

For Berg, a community development and applied economics major, there was never a question about his future employment once he started working on the Emily Manning for a local lobsterman in Warren, R.I. His dream wasn't initially shared by his father, Geoffrey Berg, a Providence physician who got the job for his son 10 years ago as a summer gig at the age 15.

"Initially he wasn't too happy about it as a career option, but now he's on board," says Berg.

Getting into the lobstering business isn't easy.

Berg says it can cost upwards of $500,000 to get a boat, license and equipment. He was fortunate enough to work as a deckhand for a local fisherman who sold him the Emily Manning and equipment in May of 2007 for well below market value. Berg works with 800 traps weighing 60 pounds each that make up a string of pots.

Owning and operating a fishing boat and a business while also attending UVM full time has been challenging. Berg drives four hours almost every weekend to Warren, a well-known whaling port and ship-building town in the mid-1700s, to prepare for a 12-hour day that starts at 3 a.m. He plans to work this schedule seven days a week starting the summer after he graduates.

If Berg didn't love it, he wouldn't be able to log the 84 hours a week it requires to be successful.

To supplement his on-the-job training, Berg has taken numerous courses at UVM while working on a dual major in community and international development and community entrepreneurship. In his latest course, Strategic Planning for Community Entrepreneurs, Berg is using his business as his semester-long project to make sure it's as efficient as possible. "We're using all my financial information dating back five years to project five years ahead," he says. "It can be an unpredictable history."

"When Nate came to my office to double check his requirements," says Jane Kolodinsky, professor and chair of CDAE, "it turns out he had taken almost every course in community and international development and entrepreneurship we offer. He could graduate with two majors. Then, we come to find out that Nate bought a lobstering boat and is already his own boss."

Last modified January 07 2013 03:43 PM