Animal Careers | Internships & Externships

intern

Periodically I get notices of internship or externship opportunities but are they worth it?

In todays animal career world it is highly competitive so both internship and externship opportunities are valuable if you are seeking a career with animals.

There are also a lot of different opportunities that you can volunteer for–such as a docent position and other related animal jobs.

But what is the difference?

Animal Career Internship

An animal career internship is where you are sponsored into a program to help with research in conjunction with a school or educational facility.

This is popular in zoos and domestic animal facilities and can get you into some top name institutions and give you some amazing opportunities.

The benefit is that it is supervised practical experience.

You actually go and work within a program or facility outside of your educational one.

Most of these programs are run during the school year or in the summer months, when the course load is lighter. May will also consist of an academic research project.

Accommodations and any travel is handled by the student or intern and not the facility–unless you are very lucky.

Animal Career Externships

An animal externship is when you get involved a training program that is part of an actual course of study that is part of an educational facility.

For instance, when I was in college, I had affiliations with Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Zoos.

I got academic credit for the work and another difference was that it was mostly practical experience instead of research.

The goal was to get students out into the working environment so we could develop relationships with people already working within it.

Although it can vary, usually the externship is in the private animal world and is supervised by the business owner but it can also be in the municipal sector and other facilities.

Animal Docent or Volunteer Programs

Local zoos, natural history museums, and private organizations will often have docent or volunteer programming available for people interested in wild and exotic animals.

In the domestic animal realm it is more common to find opportunities with shelter animals, or in pet rescue, but if you are lucky you might find some opportunities with pet training or other pet industry businesses.

Usually a docent or volunteer program involves short introductory training.

There programs are usually related to education but a few will allow you to gain practical hands-on animal experience.

Special events, tours, and presentations are a few tasks covered by trained docents or volunteers.

Often there is a fee for participation in these groups and they usually cover your training, materials, uniforms, and other related items.

In a few cases a minimum time commitment may apply.

Most all of these opportunities have age limitations or restrictions due to insurance and liability issues.

So, it is worth the effort?

Yes, I believe so.

If you work it right, you meet others that might help you move forward in your animal career and build relationships with others that may be beneficial to you in your animal job search in the future.

Plus, if you don’t have a lot of animal experience, these types of opportunities help you get it AND also help you to determine if the particular career with animals (or animal job) is the right one or something you absolutely hate!

Photo Credit: Inju

About Ark Lady

+ArkLady is a cyber-jungle trailblazer, author & speaker. Join thecyber-jungle explorer email list or connect via ARKlady website.