This week, after my normal three days of work, the Zoo interns had the pleasure of greeting another group of interns from PwC, a consulting firm and close friend of the Zoo. The interns were our age and almost all accounting majors. For their internship, they sit at a desk for eight hours a day, five days a week, and get paid! Paid!! We were baffled when we heard this. In the nonprofit line of work, such as a zoo, paid internships are few and far between. The only reason I was able to commit to this internship at all was because of funding allocations from my college (insert shameless plug for Juniata here).
When talking to these interns, however, it’s clear that most of them are accounting majors for the money. They like the field, sure, but the main motivator behind choosing that future was the promise of a high salary. While I wish I could have that kind of cash, I know I would be miserable if I were stuck behind a desk on a daily basis. We zoo interns are in this business because we truly love it; the zoo, the animals, all of it. We have passion. There is no other way we would accept unpaid internships during college with no promise but low to median pay in the future, if we can secure a job. The accounting interns told us how lucky they thought we were; we are outside playing with goats and running around a zoo all day while they are stuck at a desk staring at excel files. I call them lucky because they have a secure future.
The secure future and the money isn’t what it’s really about, though. It’s about the fact that I will wake up in the morning actually looking forward to going to work. For me, there will be no such thing as the daily grind. If I can get a job doing what I love, the salary won’t matter. As long as I can eat and afford the commute, I’ll be happy. That’s the dream, and with this internship and my major, that’s what I’m hoping to achieve.