My last three days at the Zoo were surprisingly typical. We watched presentations, went to our stations, and talked to guests about the animals. On the last day I made my rounds and said my goodbyes to my favorites, waved farewell to my other interns, and hopped on the bus for home. The whole thing was kind of surreal, especially considering that I’ll likely never see most of those people again.
I have to say, though, this internship is probably the best thing that has happened to me in my career so far. It has given me an incredible amount of exposure to the zoo world and how things work behind the scenes, even if I didn’t work directly with the animals. The internship I had, Environmental Education and Animal Behavior, taught me a lot about interacting with and educating the public about the animals and Zoo in general. These communication skills will be invaluable when I try and seek a real position at a zoo. Because of this internship, I also know how to observe and document animal behavior, then quantify and analyze it to make a coherent data table that can be interpreted. Writing the paper and completing my project was tough, but I definitely feel better off because of it. Being at the Zoo has also taught me how to quickly pick up and retain information, and if I don’t know something, how to make an educated guess based on what I already know. I know school tries to teach these skills as well, but it sticks a little better when a guest is staring at you waiting for an answer on how long a lemur can live for.
So, although the daily commute was awful, I’m so glad I got the chance to have this experience. It will absolutely help me for years to come, not only with job searches, but with communication and leadership as well. It has been an amazing summer.