From gaining hands-on experience to learning about animal care and conservation, a zoo internship can be a valuable addition to your resume and a fun and educational experience. Most zoo internships only offer experience in one animal area and typically aren’t paid zoo internships. However, a Tanganyika Wildlife Park zoo internship allows you to work in the zoo’s five departments. In addition to our animal care learning opportunities, you also work at our interactive encounter stations, making it one of the best zoo internships out there!
The best part about interning at Tanganyika Wildlife Park is that you gain valuable customer service skills that are easily transferable to other zoos across the US. As said by a zoo hiring manager from Alabama, “I love hiring Tanganyika Wildlife Park Zoo Internship Graduates because they always have great customer service skills, experience with a variety of animals, and a great work ethic.”
Tanganyika’s zoo interns are typically college or recently graduated students who want hands-on experience with a zoo job. Zoo interns at Tanganyika learn daily care and husbandry of the animals at the zoo, communication and public speaking skills, and interpersonal skills. In addition, they are provided with projects and workshops to help develop them as professionals.
Our internships start just before the season opens in March and extend through the middle of November with an option for a summer-only zoo internship.
In this blog, we’re going to share some tips for how to find the best zoo internship and how to get the most out of your experience.
How To Find the Best Zoo Internships
Where to look for zoo internships
If you want to find an internship at a zoo, some websites worth looking at are:
- The Zoological Assocation of America Job Board
- The American Association of Zoo Keeper’s Job Board
- The Assocation of Zoos and Aquariums Job Board
Another great way to find internships is to look at the job boards of zoos you would be interested in. Create a plan and understand that every zoo internship is different. Some zoo internships are available every college semester, others only offer internships in the summer, and some provide longer zoo internships reflective of their sales season.
You can also check with your school, family, and friends to see if anyone knows of internships at a zoo that might be an excellent fit for you. Once you’ve chosen a few zoo internships that will work for you, it’s time to apply!
How to apply for an internship at a zoo
Having chosen the best zoo internships, you can find, review the job description and application process thoroughly. It’s very important to follow all the application and job posting directions to land an internship at a zoo.
Prepare your resume by ensuring it is at least one page, and start with your most recent, relevant experience. Most hiring managers at zoos only have 30 seconds to review your resume, so you want to stand out.
Questions worth asking yourself when preparing your resume include:
- What makes you a great candidate for the internship?
- What special projects or special skills do you have that will make you an excellent fit for the team?
There are some great resources on how to build a good resume and cover letter; make sure you use them and have someone review your application.
You should also prepare to apply for more than one internship. Zoo internships are competitive, and getting hired at your top zoo pick can take a lot of work. Thus, be open-minded and apply to smaller zoos as they are often slightly less competitive.
Your resume can be the same for each internship you apply to, but make sure you tailor your cover letter to each zoo internship. You can do this by choosing three things in the job description that you think you do well and writing a paragraph about how your previous experience has prepared you to excel at that task or skill.
The value of using your network
Getting a zoo internship can also be dependent on your professors, family, and friends. You never know who might have a contact at a zoo. If you find a contact, ask for an introduction to a zoo hiring manager. Then, send an introductory email asking for their advice on being the best candidate and tips and tricks.
You can also ask if they have time to review your resume or cover letter. This will make you stand out if your resume comes across their desk. They may also know someone who is hiring and put in a good word so you can get an internship at a zoo.
Also, there are great Facebook groups where you can ask if anyone will review your resume. If you don’t have a connection, you can use LinkedIn or a simple Google search to find zoo professionals who might be willing to listen to your request. Alternatively, websites such as Animals Amplified offer to review resumes for prospective zoo employees.
9 Tips for a Successful Internship at a Zoo
An internship at a zoo can be a great way to gain hands-on experience and learn about animal care and conservation. Hands-on experience is vital to landing your first zoo job, but to make the most of your internship, we have some tips to share with you. Our hiring managers and zookeeper teams compiled nine tips for a successful internship at a zoo. From nailing your first day to taking full advantage of all your opportunities, these tips will help you make the most of your internship and set yourself up for success.
So whether you’re just starting your search for an internship or are already halfway through, these tips from our hiring managers will help you make the most of your experience.
- Arrive on time: You want to make a good first impression throughout your zoo internship. Thus, always arrive on time and bring everything you need. If you encounter any delays, know who to contact for help.
- Be positive: Being too focused on the negatives of life can be detrimental to our well-being. It can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress, which can affect our physical and mental health. By being positive, we can shift our focus to the good things, improving our overall outlook and leading to a happier and healthier life. Additionally, being positive can also have a positive impact on the entire zoo family. When we are happy and optimistic, it can be contagious and inspire others to be positive. So, rather than the negative, try to focus on the positive and be grateful for all the amazing opportunities you will have in your zoo internship.
- Ask questions: Asking questions during your zoo internship shows you are engaged and interested in what you’re learning. By asking questions, you can clarify any confusion or misunderstandings about the tasks you’re completing or the information you’re provided with. It can also help you learn more and deepen your understanding of animal care and conservation.
- Learn how to budget: Being mindful of your spending during a zoo internship is important for several reasons. For one, you may need to manage your money strategically if you find a paid or unpaid zoo internship. This can include finding affordable housing, reducing unnecessary expenses, and saving on your biggest expenses like food. If you can learn how to avoid overspending or getting into debt, you can avoid added stress. Finally, by being aware of your financial situation and making conscious decisions about how you spend your money, you can ensure that you have enough to cover your basic needs and have a positive experience during your paid zoo internship.
- Understand your role: As a zoo intern, you support the staff and make their jobs easier. This may involve tasks that are not glamorous, such as cleaning up animal waste and filing animal records, but it is vital that you approach these tasks with a positive attitude. Remember, your internship is an opportunity to gain hands-on experience and learn about the field and industry.
- Find a mentor: A mentor can provide valuable guidance and support and help you navigate the zoo’s ins and outs. They can also offer practical advice and tips on succeeding in your zookeeping career. On the other hand, building a strong network through your mentor can help you make connections and expand your professional opportunities.
- Think ahead: In your zoo internship, it is crucial that you anticipate needs and think ahead. This means being proactive and anticipating what needs to be done before being asked to do it. By being proactive and anticipating the needs of the staff and animals, you can demonstrate your willingness to help and your ability to think ahead.
- Seize every opportunity: You will likely be given the opportunity to take on extra tasks, pick up extra shifts, participate in workshops, volunteer, and assist with special projects. Seize every opportunity given to you, as this can provide valuable experience and help you gain new skills and knowledge. By taking on extra tasks and volunteering for additional projects, you can demonstrate your willingness to learn and dedication to your internship. For example, a medical procedure may happen, and staff need extra hands. Offer to help.
- Think outside the box: Thinking outside the box can benefit your zoo internship in several ways. For one, you may have the opportunity to work in zoo areas outside your field of study or interest. For example, you could work in the zoo gift shop. While these tasks may not seem directly tied to getting a job in a zoo, they can still provide valuable experience and skills. For instance, working in the zoo gift shop can teach you about customer service and sales. By taking on these types of tasks and approaching them positively, you can gain valuable skills and experience that can benefit your career.
The Benefits of a Zoo Internship
Participating in a zoo internship can provide many benefits, including on-the-job training and learning more about working with animals. Additionally, being around animals has been shown to positively affect mental health, improving your well-being.
Furthermore, participating in a zoo internship can also help you build your professional network and make connections in the field. However, it’s important to note that working in a zoo is only for some, and interning can provide a way to test out the job and see if it’s the right fit for you.
A zoo internship will provide valuable hands-on experience and training that can help prepare you for a job in the field. During your internship, you will have the opportunity to work with animals and learn more about their care and behavior. You will also learn about the daily operations of a zoo and gain experience working with other professionals in the field.
Additionally, you will have the chance to develop crucial skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and time management, that are essential for success in a zoo job. While you might love animals, the challenges of zookeeping make it a demanding career. An internship at a zoo can be a great way to ensure it is the right job for you.