Wild Days at the Zoo: My Internship and How to Find Yours

This past summer, I had the privilege of interning at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. The internship was an amazing learning experience, so I wanted to share a little bit about it.

I was one of eight communications interns at the zoo during the summer. Four were event planning/PR interns, and the rest of us had our own specialization in media; mine was videography. I was in charge of capturing footage and photographs of animals and guests that could be used for the zoo’s social media or marketing materials. My main project was an eight-part video series for National zookeeper Week. This entailed interviewing keepers, collecting extra footage, and editing the videos together.

On a typical day, I would come in at 8 a.m. and either start or continue a project, which usually meant editing photographs or a promotional video for an upcoming event. On Mondays, we would have team meetings to discuss what everyone was working on and how we could use each other’s services. During the day, I would walk through the zoo and grab footage of things I needed for specific projects. Then, I would return to the office, sort through the new materials, and edit.

No two days were the same at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. There was always something new to do; photograph a baby monkey’s first day on exhibit, get footage of pig training or lemur enrichment, observe a keeper dive in with the sharks and clean their tank; the list continues. It was especially busy during special event days. The event planning interns were in charge of putting on educational events like ‘World Oceans Day’ and ‘Animal Care Day’, and the photography intern and I would walk around and capture moments of guests interacting with the event stations.

Maji, a baby Swamp Monkey, explores the area during her first day on exhibit.

My favorite part of the zoo internship was talking to the zookeepers and getting to see or hear about the different jobs they do each day. Each keeper I interviewed was eager to share information and stories about their time at the zoo. I had the privilege of listening to a bird keeper share her story of helping hatch a near-threatened species of hornbill, and I was lucky enough to follow a keeper around as she cared for the animals on the zoo’s African veldt. Seeing all the people behind the scenes made me realize how much effort goes into the conservation and care of the zoo’s animals.

Nuri, a Wrinkled Hornbill, enjoys her food while perched inside her exhibit.

I had so much fun at work every day, and I will take everything I learned with me as I continue my academic path. While internships are a wonderful way to gain experience and get your feet wet, they can sometimes be difficult to attain. Now, I will walk through the process of landing my internship so you have some helpful tidbits on how to acquire one, too.

Be Prepared

One crucial part of applying for any job is a polished resume, so I made an appointment at the Walter Center for Career Achievement for assistance with this task. The meeting proved extremely helpful as they walked me through ideal formats and every necessary element of a professional resume. In addition to resumes, they assist with cover letters, mock interviews, and even help explore job opportunities. If you are unaware of how to start your search, begin at the Walter Career Center.

Another document to have prepared is a letter of recommendation or a reference. It is very important to develop relationships with your professors for a variety of reasons—one of them being that you may need them to put in a good word for you some day. I was taught that one should always have a list of three people they feel comfortable asking for letters of recommendation. If you cannot think of three people, I encourage you to get in touch with a professor, faculty member, or other mentor.

William Iven, Unsplash

Finding Opportunities

I started my internship search during winter break of sophomore year. I am a media major with a film production concentration, so I was looking for an internship that was centered on communications. A great way to find postings is to look on career websites like LinkedIn or Indeed. If you are in The Media School, I advise you to subscribe to ‘The Buzz’ weekly emails. They give information about Media School events and available jobs and internships. If you are searching for your first internship, I also suggest checking the career tabs on websites of local businesses.

During my search, the job descriptions for every communications posting I found were quite similar; they were looking for someone with experience in digital media, creating videos or editing pictures, graphic design, marketing, or social media. During my sophomore year, I took classes that pertained to many of these categories. I also had experience through university clubs and writing for We Are IU, so I felt comfortable applying for certain openings. If you want to stand out to employers, get involved in related extracurriculars. They will boost your resume and add to your experience, which helps—not hinders—the process of finding an internship.

rawpixel, Unsplash

Landing the Job

After applying to the zoo in early March, I returned to Fort Wayne for the interview. For some people, including myself, interviews can be nerve-racking. Here are a few pieces of advice. First, do not start doubting your abilities; the employer liked you on your resume, so they will probably like you in person. Second, be calm, be present, and smile. Lastly, have a couple questions ready to ask the interviewer. I usually ask them to elaborate on the most rewarding part of their job, which gives an inside perspective on what it may be like to work for that specific company or organization.

A day or so after the interview, it may be a good idea to send a ‘thank you’ note or email to the employer. You could thank them for taking the time to interview you and share information about the internship, and iterate your interest in the position. A hand-written note will make you stand out as a courteous and motivated job seeker. Know that if you are not awarded the internship, there are still plenty of other opportunities that you will soon discover.

Yes, finding an internship can be difficult, but if you put in the effort and seek out the chances, someone will be bound to notice your work and perseverance.

Related We Are IU Blogs:

Top Secrets on Securing an Internship

So, You Wanna Be An Intern? Four Tips To A Successful Internship

About The Author
Christina MercedesMedia major, class of 2020

Hi! My name is Christina, and I'm a junior at IU. I am majoring in Media with a concentration in Film Production and a minor in Spanish. My goal is to create engaging content by sharing my knowledge and parts of my college experience here on We Are IU. Whether you are reading a post about applying for scholarships, or just looking for ideas on how to decorate your dorm, I hope you find my work and the blogs of other writers very helpful in your search!