An internship at the Indianapolis Zoo is not your average internship. During my interview in the public relations department, when I mentioned to my future boss that I would be happy to get coffee and make copies, he actually laughed! It was only after the first day on the job that I realized this department had much bigger plans for me.
If you prefer the prospect of doing a mundane task like file organization for hours on end, this is not the place for you. But if you’re hoping to gain hands-on, real-life, once-in-a-lifetime knowledge and experience in your respective department, the Indianapolis Zoo couldn’t be a better fit.
This was my first work experience – ever! When I mentioned that I enjoyed writing and public speaking, I never imagined I’d eventually publish blog entries and co-host radio! It’s possible I just got lucky, but other interns can attest to the fact that the Zoo internship experience is one that is truly unique.
Lindsey Moore, who works in marketing, said this was her second internship experience and her previous job was not comparable in terms of the amount of hands-on work she was given at the Zoo. She enjoyed seeing what goes into planning big events like Zoobilation, Animals and All That Jazz and others.
“I was initially surprised by how much can be accomplished for huge events by such a relatively small staff,” Lindsey said.
Zoo employees are expected to be efficient and are given a lot of responsibility, something the interns here welcome with open arms. Lindsey said she loved working in an environment with such friendly coworkers. In addition, she enjoyed the opportunity to do a variety of tasks; from overseeing advertising decisions, to event coordination, to physically setting up for events (which took up most of her days during concert season!).
Kevin Pflaum, on the other hand, interacted directly with animals as well as people. He was a Vet Hospital intern who worked 40-45 hours per week.
“I got to see many more veterinary procedures and appointments than I did at my previous animal care internship,” Kevin said.
While he had previously worked mostly with domestic animals, Kevin loved caring for more exotic animals here at the Zoo. His daily projects included diet/medicine preparation, cleaning, and food delivery for the animals, as well as even more hands-on activities like provision of enrichment and veterinary checkups (which is his favorite part!).
Laura Carter, who worked in Conversation and Education Evaluation at the Polly H. Hix Institute for Research and Conservation at the Zoo, got university credit for her internship, as most of the interns do. Although only 120 hours are technically required, Laura logged more than 300 this summer, which is indicative of the quality of her Zoo experience. Like other Zoo interns, Laura was given major responsibilities, such as guest survey projects in the Tiger Forest and Flights of Fancy: A Brilliance of Birds presented by Citizens Energy Group.
“It has been very interesting to hear the guests’ opinions on the different areas,” she said. “I get to spend a lot of time with our excellent Volunteer Naturalists, learn about many different areas of the Zoo, and gathered data on how many conversations Zoo Naturalists have with guests.”
Emily Kish, who also interned at the Hix Institute, came to the Zoo because she’s an avid animal lover and said the best part of her job was getting to see elephant bathings every day. Sounds cool, Emily!
From working directly with the animals, to jobs on Zoo grounds and even administrative positions, there are a variety of different internship positions available each semester. So if you’ve always dreamed of working at the Zoo, check out all the current internship opportunities!
Alex Janin, Public Relations Intern
(That's me feeding the giraffe!)