The animal kingdom is enormous and has no regards for the borders established by humans. For animal science students who want to learn more about specific animal species that interest them most, international internships lie somewhere between a good idea and a necessity. Animal science internships abroad can present individuals with the opportunity to interact directly with animals that cannot be found anywhere else and the chance to learn more about the opinions that other cultures have concerning animals and their place in our world.
Animal science is such a broad field that almost every student will at some point be asked to narrow their focus. Will you concentrate on building skills that will help get you accepted into veterinary school? Will you shift more towards a laboratory based future career? Will you select a certain subset of animal species to work with, such as birds, livestock, or large mammals? These decisions should be made relatively early in on in your animal science education, as to allow you to optimize your internship experiences by selecting placements that are better suited to your career goals. Once the decision is made, the benefits of completing an animal science internship abroad will be immense!
For students hoping to go on to professional school, diversified academic and professional experience is a huge addition to any resume or application. For students hoping to work with a specific species in the future, animal science internships abroad will be the first necessary step to gaining hands on experience with their specific species of interest. The difference between studying animal science and working with unique species in person is enormous, which is why it is somewhat essential that animal science students complete an international internship.
Human beings and animals interact in some capacity nearly everywhere on Earth every single day, making the number of animal science internships abroad nearly endless. However, interns should keep in mind that an internship abroad can often be the first step toward a career in the field. There are plenty of internship opportunities out there, but the following locations are of the best locations for animal science internships specifically (especially for those considering working abroad in the field some day).
Germany presents a great option for interns looking for experience to prepare them for professional school. Some of the best scientific universities in the world are located in Germany, and any of these institutions, or one of the many laboratory-based research companies around the country, would be great places to intern abroad in animal science. Several major zoos are also found in Germany’s big cities, such as Berlin, each of which house over 14,000 different animal species. Students interested in a future in zoology would be hard pressed to find a better animal science internship anywhere else. Language skills may be more of a requirement to intern in Germany than in other nations, but for students with a basic understanding of German, the country has boundless possibilities for animal science internships.
Perhaps the holy grail of sites for animal science internships abroad focused on working with endangered or exotic animals, South Africa is home to many placements that allow students to join the fight to save and protect some of the rarest species on Earth. Dozens of organizations in South Africa are constantly looking for animal science interns to work on safari game reserves or support wildlife preservation groups. Keep in mind that such an interesting destination for internships abroad does mean a bit more competition for positions though. Be prepared to submit a competitive application for some of the best animal science internships available.
A country with an amazing amount of biodiversity, animal science internships in Ecuador allow interns to contribute to the constant battle to retain a wide array of wildlife. From the dry coastal regions in the west to the section of Amazon rainforest found in the east, Ecuador provides an environment that is conducive of just about any concentration within the field of animal science. Spanish language skills are useful but not always needed to intern in Ecuador; although, interns often return with a much better grasp of the language, regardless of what skills they bring along with them.
Animal science internships are about as varied as the animal kingdom itself, with the actual tasks performed by interns shifting based on their individual concentration within the field. Regardless of your specialty, watching animal science professionals go about their daily tasks can be almost as informative as performing the tasks themselves; therefore, most animal science internships abroad will include some form of observation or shadowing.
As for the actual animal science internship placements, it is possible to work in a variety of organizations within the field, including research institutions, conservation groups, and NGOs. Two of the most common types of placements are outlined below:
Animal Care. Any organization that works with animals will naturally need people to help provide daily care for the animals, which is a perfect job for student interns. Daily animal care tasks may include providing the animals with food and water, ensuring their overall health through cleanliness and exercise, and preparing them for any kind of research or study that will be conducted. These types of animal science internships abroad are available for students with a range of experience, as specific training is often provided upon arrival.
Lab Assistance. Contrary to popular belief, the core of animal science is not necessarily in the great outdoors. The hard science of the field is performed inside modern laboratories, where advancements are being made every day all over the world. Those who find themselves in animal science internships in a lab setting will likely be tasked with collecting and organizing samples, running tests, and maintaining lab equipment. A little more experience is usually needed for these internship placements, and it is not uncommon for job offers to be made after the internship stint is complete.
Up for a Challenge. An international internship in animal science certainly isn’t necessary to get a job in the field, but it is something that can set you apart from the herd nonetheless. By proving to a future employer that you are passionate enough about the field to travel across the world and challenge yourself in an unfamiliar plane, you are truly setting yourself up for success.
New Perspectives. Learning more about field of animal science from an alternative cultural perspective can be fascinating to say the least. From views on endangered species to household pets, animal science internships abroad will expose you to lots of new perspectives that you will be able to draw on in your future career.
Exposure to Unique Species. For students interested in certain subsets of animal science, international travel may very well be a requirement of their careers. Again, if a group of animals can only be found in a certain place on earth, it is up to the scientist to travel there. Should that situation ever present itself, students who have internship experience overseas will be more than well prepared for the job, perhaps even being asked to go based on their prior international experience. Regardless of one’s future plans in animal science, an international internship has the potential to be the educational and adventurous experience of a lifetime, service student’s well for years to come!