It can be a little bit tricky to get hands-on experience with animals while in a college classroom. Practicalities aside, most campuses don’t have a ready supply of lions, sea turtles, or monkeys available for observation. This is exactly why any student studying wildlife can benefit from heading off campus to do an internship abroad.
Teaching injured falcons how to fly, building toys for orangutans, or searching the African savannah for big game spoor are just some of the many internship options for animal lovers. Whether you’ve dreamed of becoming a veterinarian since your very first visit to the zoo or you just get giddy every time you spot a puppy, wildlife internships abroad are a great way to incorporate your love for animals with a great, career-boosting opportunity in another country.
Why you want wildlife internships on your resume
Professional experience is the number one reason students do internships, and going abroad is a great way to gain a new depth of experience in your chosen field. For those who know exactly what career field they’re aiming for, an internship can provide that extra boost to make your resume stand out from the crowd. Spending six months doing coral reef studies in Belize is practically guaranteed to get you a sweet gig in marine biology after graduation, right?
If you’re not totally sure what you want to do after you graduate, an internship is a great way to test out some options and find something you’re really excited about. If conservation issues pique your interest but you don’t want to commit your whole future to the field, you can try out a short-term internship to see if it’s really for you.
Whatever your reasons for choosing a wildlife internship abroad, an added bonus is that you’ll also get to experience a new environment, culture, and language. Along with all those new professional skills, living in a new place will teach you independence, patience, and how to problem solve like nobody’s business. These skills aren’t always things you’ll put on a resume, but they’ll make you a better student, employee, and human being.
Wildlife biology internships
Studying in a lab on campus is one way to learn about biology, but taking your studies to the field is so much more exciting. Whether you’re an aspiring zoologist or want to learn more about how animals interact with a particular ecosystem, choosing a wildlife biology internship during the school year, or wildlife biology summer internship, is sure to include field research, outdoor adventures, and learning experiences galore.
You’ve probably heard about the larger-than-life creatures that roam the Australian continent, and you’ll have a chance to study them when you intern with World Internships. The organization works with you to determine your interests before placing you at a site, allowing you to work at a university, research lab, or in the field. Either way, you’ll gain deeper knowledge of Australia’s biological oddities and enjoy the laidback Aussie way of life.
Wildlife research internships
If conducting animal spoor transect studies or setting up a camera trap gets you going, a wildlife research internship is just up your alley. Field research isn’t for those who are easily distracted, but for students who are serious about learning wildlife research techniques, this is the perfect way to learn new skills and spot some incredible wildlife.
[Save and compare wildlife research internships side-by-side with MyGoAbroad]
Travel to Botswana with Wildtrax Explorations and get ready to make your way across the Okavango Delta while practicing field research techniques and learning about African ecology. This three-week program will fly by as you conduct bird surveys by boat, learn about lion behavior while on safari, and study migratory routes in one of the largest saltpan systems in the world.
Kaya Responsible Travel
Field research doesn’t only take place on land, and you’ll learn new techniques as you conduct marine life surveys off the coast of Belize with Kaya Responsible Travel. After obtaining your PADI scuba certification, you’ll do field research on a chosen species, compile your data, and learn about sustainable fishing practices. During this month-long internship, you’ll contribute information to the Belize Fisheries Department, learn valuable marine research skills, and get to go on daily dives in the world’s second largest coral reef.
Spend three months living near Kruger National Park while you learn to map wildlife habitats, analyze data from camera traps, and study the role of predators in the local ecosystem. This program from African Impact will introduce you to the wildlife as well as the people and culture of South Africa. Your reports will contribute to local conservation efforts, ensuring you’ll be doing good while also getting to observe lions, cheetahs, and more.
[The World’s Best Places to Intern—A GoAbroad Report]
Wildlife rehabilitation internships abroad
Budding zoologists or veterinarians have a lot to learn from rehabilitation internships, where they can help injured, abandoned, or endangered animals get back on their feet (or in the air). Whether you’re preparing rescued animals for eventual release back into the wild or helping to make life more comfortable for those who will remain in sanctuaries, rehabilitation internships abroad will expose you to new environments, new cultures, and hopefully some furry snuggles!
If you’re interested in working with birds of prey, this falconry internship with Projects Abroad in Guadalajara, Mexico, is a great way to get some hands-on experience. Interns spend their time rehabilitating rescued birds so they can be released back into the wild. Those who are able to devote significant time to the project will be assigned their own bird and will help in all aspects of its rehabilitation and eventual release.
If primates are more your style, spend a month or more interning with Global Nomadic to protect endangered Bornean orangutans in northern Malaysia. The sanctuary provides both refuge for the animals and a research facility to learn about orangutans and their habitat. You’ll be involved in providing enrichment activities for the primates, working on projects to maintain the facilities, and get the opportunity to care for and interact with the animals, too.
Wildlife conservation internships
The natural world has been having a rough go of it lately and needs all the help it can get. Conservation internships allow you to learn about local wildlife while also teaching you skills to preserve habitats and species around the world. Whether you’re saving marine life in coral reefs, protecting big game on the savannah, or working to preserve rare species in the rainforest, conservation internships are a great way to get career experience.
This project in coastal Thailand will teach you about both terrestrial and marine ecosystems as you perform research, care for animals, and teach the community about conservation efforts. While turtle research occurs year-round, other GVI projects take place on a seasonal basis and range from mangrove research to reef surveys. You’ll also have the chance to immerse yourself in Thai culture and work with locals to increase environmental awareness.
Conservation projects in Cape Town take place on the top of Table Mountain to under the sea in the Cape of Good Hope and everywhere in between. Whether you’re helping national park employees prevent wildlife poaching or making plans for more sustainable fishing practices, your time in South Africa with VACorps will be spent learning new skills. Just make sure you take a break for a braai every once in awhile!
This GoEco internship is perfect for those with strong sea legs. Interns will spend their time on a large boat off the coast of Italy, conducting research with top researchers, learning about dolphin behavior, and practicing the various methods used to survey and record data. You’ll also have the chance to check out Naples and other coastal cities, with plenty of opportunities to sample the country’s mouthwatering cuisine.
Wildlife summer internships
Even if you don’t have six months to devote to an internship, you can accomplish a lot during a summer internship! With programs ranging from a couple weeks to a couple months, these internships will put you on the fast track to being a wildlife pro.
Spend your summer vacation on a Greek island in the Mediterranean and you’ll barely notice that you’re also gaining professional career skills, too! This internship through Frontier involves tracking and monitoring loggerhead sea turtles as part of an effort to protect an important nesting site. Getting up early on your summer vacation may be tough, but the prospect of seeing a baby sea turtle make its way to sea will be totally worth it.
This six-week program through USAC allows you to earn college credit while also experiencing the awe-inducing landscapes of New Zealand. After a two-week expedition around the North and South islands, interns will settle into a month-long internship in Hawke’s Bay. Project sites vary from governmental conservation offices to animal sanctuaries and can be tailored to your interests and course of study.
Paid animal internships & how to find them
While paid animal internships do exist, they’re about as elusive as a snow leopard in the Central Asian mountains. But don’t lose hope, because paid wildlife internships abroad do exist! You’ll just need to channel your inner David Attenborough, stock up on patience, and keep searching. You may need to look for internships through several channels, either by contacting internship providers or wildlife organizations directly.
If you’re not able to find a paid internship, consider interning anyway. There are a lot of reasons to intern that have nothing to do with money, and if you can swing it financially, spending time overseas and getting hands-on experience in your field will benefit you professionally in the long term. There are a lot of financial resources (including scholarships) that can help you out, so be sure to look at all of your options.
Wild about wildlife internships? We get you.
With nearly a million animal species identified on our planet, the opportunities to research, observe, and protect them are nearly endless. Wildlife internships abroad are a fantastic way to spice up your resume, gain first-hand experience, and learn about a different culture, all while getting outdoors in a new environment. Who knows? That summer internship might lead to a lifelong career, but you’ll never find out unless you go!