Zoo Summer Jobs 2013
Summer Interns Share Their Wild Work
Lincoln Park Zoo welcomes dozens of interns every summer, offering students from high school to college age the opportunity to try their hands at careers in conservation, education and care. From trapping snapping turtles to planning the perfect wedding, our interns share their summer experiences below…just in time to go back to school.
Conservation & Science Interns
Malott Family Zoo Intern Program (ZIP)
Nature Boardwalk Intern, Urban Wildlife Institute
This summer I assisted with numerous projects at Nature Boardwalk including black-crowned night heron monitoring, South Pond turtle surveys, water-quality analysis and educational outreach. During my time at Lincoln Park Zoo, I became familiar with a wide range of ecological sampling methods and learned the ropes of working at a scientific institution.
Along with being able to handle lots of animals, one of the best parts of this internship was learning how to relay all the very “science-heavy” information to the non-scientific community. These skills will definitely be useful to me as I pursue a career in wildlife biology.
Field Ecology Intern, Urban Wildlife Institute
We monitored smooth green snake populations in McHenry County, Illinois, conducting regular surveys of coverboards placed throughout 15 forest preserves. I learned a great deal about snake biology, species identification, biological field techniques and native Illinois fauna.
The best part of my experience was the opportunity to work with a variety of wildlife species and contribute to a worthwhile reintroduction project. I think this position has helped broaden my career options by expanding my experience in field biology and strengthening my knowledge of biological research.
Nature Boardwalk Intern, Urban Wildlife Institute
As a Nature Boardwalk intern, I collected data about the wildlife living around Lincoln Park Zoo’s urban ecosystem. This included conducting turtle surveys, counting black-crowned night herons and trapping and releasing small mammals.
Being a Nature Boardwalk intern gave me many valuable skills in wildlife biology as well as communication and public interaction. I learned techniques for properly handling many animal species in addition to learning how to identify a huge array of native plants and animals. Still, the best part of my experience at the zoo was the opportunity to work with and talk to so many different people in a variety of fields.
I know the skills from this internship will be extremely helpful for my future. All the trapping, tracking and handling techniques I have learned are used across the field of wildlife biology and can be applied to most species. My goal is to pursue a career in ecology and wildlife biology, so these skills will be indispensable.
Population Management Intern, Population Management Center
For my internship with the Population Management Center. I organized animal and population data for species including lions, Panamanian golden frogs, spider monkeys, Thailand clouded leopards and chimpanzees. I also attended and assisted several Planning Meetings, including lesser Madagascar hedgehog tenrecs, Chinese alligators, Humboldt penguins and African penguins.
The best part of my experience was working every day with nationally recognized conservation experts at a highly acclaimed institution. I helped perform work that has an important, lasting effect on animal populations in zoos and aquariums throughout North America, and even Europe. This internship gave me the opportunity to experience conservation work in a non-profit institution firsthand, which is impossible to fully understand from a purely academic perspective.
I was given the opportunity to work alongside staff in the Development Department. This let me observe all the inner workings that go into making the zoo run smoothly. This program definitely helped me earn valuable skills such as social and organizational skills. It also helped me with work experience, showing me what it is like to have a professional job.
Being in the professional work environment really gave me a chance to see how I want my future workplace to be like. In the Events Department I worked outdoors with little kids operating the train and carousel rides. I also worked in the warehouse where I took pictures of toys and hats that go in the stores and edited them to be placed on the zoo website.
I got a chance to work in the food area, where I was a greeter, handing out trays. Last but not least I worked in the Laflin Building where I got a chance to work with computers and meet brides planning to host their weddings at the zoo.
During my immersion in the Conservation & Science Department I participated in a variety of activities, ranging from extracting hormones from fecal samples to working with studbooks to aid population management. Moving forward this experience helped me because I am now even more inspired to pursue a science career.
Jillian Lepek (Center)
I was able to shadow a variety of people and learn about the diverse jobs within the Communications Department. I attended meetings, worked on projects and learned more than I ever thought I would. Looking forward, this experience definitely opened my eyes to jobs I didn't know existed but that will certainly influence my future career choices. I received some wonderful advice from many people about college and internships, which will help me in the future.
During my time with the zoo I shadowed and worked with the Education Department. I facilitated carts, saw some amazing animals, helped with young Zoo Explorers and got to hear all the behind-the-scenes work that happens in meetings. This experience will definitely help me in the future. It has opened so many doors for me as well as helping me realize a possible future career in informal education.
I took part in working with the Horticulture Department. My mentor, Director of Horticulture Brian Houck, and I worked on mastering the Landscape Master Plan. During the program I also worked with lots of volunteers who come to the zoo to help out with planting and weeding the area.
Working with such a professional and passionate department benefitted me immensely. Brian Houck has given me so much insight on what being a horticulturalist is truly like. It has shown me this is a department I would be willing to go into in the future.
Interning with the Capital and Programmatic Planning Department, I got to review plans for future exhibits and listen in during meetings while aspects of the new buildings were being determined. Working alongside professionals in a business environment was invaluable to me. I had never worked in an environment like the Laflin Building before, and I imagine the skills I learned there will follow me into my future career endeavors.
Marvin Ambrocio (Second-Year Mentor)
My experience as a ZIP has been amazing. Spending two summers here at the zoo has been fantastic and has helped me a lot in many aspects. The first year helped me work on skills that helped me out in high school being a more confident student and more active in class. It helped me to find the leadership qualities that led me to want to return as a mentor. I have learned a lot about myself, what I like, what stresses and scares me. I’ve also learned about the wonderful things the zoo does and is a part of. I have grown a tremendous love and passion for the zoo, and I want to continue to be a part of the Lincoln Park Zoo family.
I learned that when put in the public spotlight, I shine. I interpreted biomaterials for the public. This internship has gotten me on the right track to success.
My ZIP experience was outstanding. I learned innumerable facts about different animals. The internship evolved my public-speaking skills, and I now feel very comfortable
I completely loved my experience as a ZIP. It has been one of the best summers ever because I learned so many new things, and I have developed so many new skills that helped me set a great plan for my future. Words cannot explain how much this internship has helped me grow and mature. Thanks to the interns, the zoo staff and my supervisors, I know what I want as a career and future.
I learned so many new things about animals and improved on public speaking. I was a teacher educating others on what I've learned about many different animals. The ZIP program is the best internship ever!
Kiara Frausto (Second-Year Mentor)
I learned how to handle more responsibility and assert myself when challenged. I was mentor for a rather loud, outgoing group, and I hopefully was successful in leading them throughout the summer. The summer was highly beneficial in experience, and I'm sad I'm not going to be able to return with ZIP.
This summer internship has been very fun. I have learned a lot about animals and interesting facts. I know I will never forget the information I learned because its been drilled in my head because I have repeated it a lot. This internship helped me learn more about the zoo. Even though I can’t reapply next year, I learned about other college internships I can do in the zoo.
I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did, but I'm happy I did. I learned amazing facts about animals, how they live and their ways of life. Here at the zoo I'm a teacher to the public; it’s amazing to hear the simple saying of, “I didn’t know that.” This internship made me a better public speaker, and I'm thankful for that.
If I could only use one word to describe my experience in this program, it would be “amazing!” I learned how to sound confident when presenting to the public and how to work better with other team members. While I was interpreting facts to the public, not only did I teach them, but they also taught me interesting information I hadn’t known beforehand. This internship benefitted me in so many ways, such as making me more comfortable talking to strangers, and gave me my first work experience!
The experience in ZIP has been an inspiration to me. I learned a lot about the animals and about the zoo itself. I loved being able to go out on carts and teach all the guests about amazing facts. My favorite part was when you tell a fact to the adults, and they are very happy they learned something new.
I feel like this is an experience of a lifetime. Not many people actually say that they had a chance to see behind the scenes of animal enclosures. I learned about so many different facts about many different animals that I’m going to tell my future friends. This internship taught me patience with the public.
I applied to this internship hoping to narrow down my career decisions, but the exact opposite happened. Being in this program opened new doors, and new opportunities were brought up. I enjoyed learning different positions at the zoo, and I especially enjoyed sharing my love for animals with the guests. My experience as a ZIP was one I will never forget.
This internship has really helped me learn a lot of new things about animals being taken care of at the zoo. I have also been able to grow my interpreting skills, and communication is something valuable that I learned to use.
This internship helped me develop and further my communication skills with all different types of people. I thoroughly enjoyed working with all the interns and learning so many new facts about how zoos work and the intense programming and work that makes everything happen.
Well, basically we interpret to people different amazing facts that they never knew about. I love to see people’s reactions to awesome new facts.
My experience with ZIP was awesome. I remember the first day I went out on carts and I didn’t know how I was going to do this because I was so nervous. But now, I'm not even nervous anymore. I just start talking. I learned how to easily speak to the public, how to answer difficult questions from guests.
I feel like this internship benefitted me in my knowledge, and now I can inform people about different animals, and I can also speak to my class a lot easier on presentations. I loved the fact that ZIP was so professionally planned and we always had something to do. We were never sitting around bored because the planned activities were very interesting and beneficial to our development in the program and even personally.
Your Story—Zoo Interns
Former interns share how their zoo experience prepared them for a career in field conservation.
Post from the President—Not Just a Summer Job