People are frequently advised to pursue internships, but be sure an internship is the right choice for you. Internships are similar to volunteer positions but there are a few distinctions.
Internships are typically offered for a finite period of time (1 to 3 months – sometimes longer) to accommodate school schedules. Internships can be paid (hourly or stipend) or unpaid positions. Some facilities may even provide housing for interns.
Intern responsibilities vary from facility to facility and from discipline to discipline. Internships may be labor focused or more academically oriented. Either way, an intern is usually expected to complete a specific project by the end of their appointment and college credit is sometimes offered upon the completion of an internship.
Internships can be a great way to make valuable professional connections, gain exposure to a career, and begin learning and improving skills. While internships have benefits, they can be competitive and hard to find. Internships may be required for some zoo career paths, like veterinary medicine and research. For other disciplines, volunteering may be just as good if not a better option.
To find out more about specific intern opportunities, visit the website of your local accredited zoo, aquarium, or exotic wildlife facility. Check the AMZAP job postings for internship opportunities as well.
Sandra Ortiz-Ortega (center) with interns at the Brookfield Zoo.