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What Are the Different Types of Wildlife Internships?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Voight
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 22 June 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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There are a variety of paid and unpaid wildlife internships available for students and recent college graduates. Wildlife internships are available at large or small non-profit agencies, rehabilitation centers, and other organizations that benefit a specific wildlife cause or educate the public. Interns can find work in a variety of capacities, including education, fundraising, and animal care. Some internships last the duration of summer break, while others are full-time, year-round positions.

As there is such a wide variety of wildlife internships, experience and educational requirements for internships vary. Some require a specific degree background, especially if direct contact with animals is involved. Others may require only enrollment in a wildlife-related field or an interest in working with animals.

Some larger organizations offer full-time, paid wildlife internship positions with health benefits and paid holidays and vacation. Smaller organizations may only be able to offer unpaid, volunteer wildlife internships. Some of these smaller organizations operate on donations and cannot afford to pay interns a salary, but should not be excluded in a job search. Smaller organizations can offer hands-on experience caring for animals or working as an assistant to a veterinarian or wildlife rehabilitation specialist. These opportunities might be rare at a larger wildlife organization.

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Internships can benefit students who are not sure whether they want to stay in animal-related professions by providing experience across a variety of back-up disciplines. For instance, internships in fundraising can help a student or graduate with a career in wildlife non-profit fundraising or provide valuable job experience in business or marketing. Conservation education internships can help prepare an intern for a career in teaching.

Some wildlife organizations have openings for support staff. These include work in office support positions, publications, and construction of pens and habitats. Wildlife internships in maintenance of grounds and structures are suitable for those who might not have the required experience or education but would like to get a feel for working around wildlife and evaluate whether a career in wildlife management is for them. As wildlife internships may be physically demanding and expose wildlife interns to heat, humidity, and the elements, physical fitness may be a requirement.

Other wildlife internships involve progressively increased contact with wild animals. Most of these are available for graduates of wildlife-related degree programs. Entry-level wildlife internships might begin with cleaning out cages and progress to helping a veterinarian care for animals. Some interns may work to rehabilitate injured animals. If a student plans to return to a wildlife-related degree program after the internship ends, there are fellowship programs that allow a student to apply what he or she has learned to subsequent academic work or research.

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