Animal Career Secrets: Why Internships, Volunteer Work, & Apprenticing Help With a Career with Animals

In this post at Animal Career Secrets readers learn about why internships, volunteer work, and apprenticing are a good way to get your foot into the door of a career with animals. All content copyrighted 2007 by Diana L Guerrero. Some rights reserved.

Rumors that I am off reading Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows are not true but it isn’t a bad idea…I was traveling all day yesterday and today was a full day with appointments and other commitments but in all that activity I remembered another question that was posed by a reader.

I mentioned that apprenticing is a good way to get experience but many people call that volunteering or interning. Basically the underlying experience is the same—you gain practical experience and first hand knowledge before you make the commitment to an education program for that career AND commit to that professional field.

The hands-on work is vital to get before you make a final decision on what career path to pursue. I know that I did not want to be a veterinarian because I didn’t want to work with sick animals—and because all the exotic animals I knew hated their veterinarians—and I wanted them to like me!

Also, the veterinary medical field is similar to studying for a medical degree and you have to have the stomach for all things bloody and yucky. I know that isn’t too professional sounding but it gets the point across.

Even unpaid positions require preparation and commitment. You need to show up for work and work hard because you are being prepared for a career and those working with you will pass the information on to others in the field.

Most of the people who end up in jobs work hard to get to know the professionals in the animal career of their dreams. When I was in the marine mammal world, I knew pretty much everyone working in the local oceanariums, networked at the meetings instead of playing, and really studied the natural history of the animals I was interested in.

If you remember nothing else when you are miserably doing a job you consider menial—but which is probably a vital task for animal management—remember that the work you are doing as an intern, volunteer, or apprentice is a foot in the door and a step onto the ladder of the animal career you dream about.

In some cases, it is a rude awakening that you are not suited for that particular role. Often people find that they are really better at something else instead of the role they thought they would pursue.

Okay, that is it for today. I’ll get into some meatier topics this weekend.

Diana L Guerrero is an animal career specialist and has extensive experience in many areas of the animal world. A well known animal expert, she has worked professionally with animals for over thirty years. Guerrero is the author of several books and the host of the syndicated, Ark Animal Answers.

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