How to Find Animal Internships

Students stand with a dairy farmer and a cow taking notes
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An internship is one of the best ways to gain valuable hands-on animal experience. There is no substitute for practical experience in this industry, and having the right internship experiences on your resume can make the difference when multiple candidates are pursuing the same position. Internship experience can be of particular importance for students following highly competitive career paths, with one example being students hoping to gain entrance into veterinary school.

Why You Should Get an Internship

Internships also enable a student to gain insight into the wide variety of potential careers within a field of interest. For example, a student that has an interest in zoo animals could try a variety of internships in animal care, veterinary care, or educational program development. They could also specialize even further by pursuing an opportunity with a specific group of animals, like big cats, primates, or marine mammals.

Internships are valuable networking opportunities, and students who choose to spend the time completing them have the chance to be exposed to top level professionals that they otherwise might not even have a chance to speak with, much less work with. Being able to list work experience under the supervision of a noted professional is a huge boost to anyone’s resume, and the connections you make during the internship can lead to job offers in the future.

Be sure to cultivate those relationships during your time as an intern, because you never know where an amazing job offer could come from.

Find Your Internship

But how do you go about finding these career-building internship opportunities in the first place?

Online

The internet is a great resource for locating animal related internships that are available in the United States and across the globe.

A sampling of such opportunities can be found on this website by checking out these links:

Check With Your School

You should also check with your educational institution (high school, college, or university) to see if they have any leads on internships that might complement your future career aspirations. Colleges and universities tend to cultivate relationships with organizations that offer internships to students, and many have an office for career development that can facilitate introductions to successful alumni working in your field of interest. An advisor or department head may be able to direct you to opportunities that are unadvertised and perhaps even exclusive to students attending your school. They may also be willing to provide you with letters of recommendation that will help give you an edge when applying for internship opportunities.

Check Local

Don’t forget to search for internship opportunities in your local area.

Many zoos, aquariums, stables, veterinary clinics, and animal related companies offer some sort of internship program, and it can be much more affordable to find an internship close to home (without expenses for housing, plane tickets, and other travel related items). If you have options available locally it is something to consider, especially if you would like to find a job in that location in the future.

Network with Industry Professionals

You should also consider talking with as many industry professionals as possible to see what internships they pursued during their student years. You might find out about additional hidden opportunities that laid the foundation for these professionals to achieve their current roles in the industry. The professionals may even offer to give you the contact information of the organization they interned with or make an introduction to the appropriate person at that organization.

Meeting with these professional also adds to your networking agenda, as they may remember that you asked for their advice and consider you for positions in the future.

Can You Get Paid?

While not all opportunities come with financial compensation, many of them do offer some salary, a stipend, housing, or the possibility of achieving college credit hours. Remember that monetary compensation isn’t everything. An unpaid internship at a well-known organization can be worth its weight in gold as a part of the experience section of your resume. There are some positions, however, that do carry a very generous salary or stipend. It is up to the student to seek out the best position that combines a quality experience with enough compensation to make it worthwhile.

Mind Your Deadlines

One final word: watch those deadlines! Internship applications are usually due several months in advance of the start date, so be sure to get everything sent in a timely manner.