By: Emma Monismith
Ever wonder what it’s like to do an internship at a local zoo? Recent Delaware Valley University graduate Nick Myers knows all about working with animals and was able to complete his experiential learning experience (E360) at Elmwood Park Zoo. As a zoo science major, Nick was able to transform his experiential learning experience into a full-time job.
Nick had his sights set on being a zookeeper for quite a while. After completing his first internship at Elmwood Zoo before coming to DelVal, he was offered a part time zookeeper position at Elmwood.
“I was offered a position there (Elmwood) and I felt like that would fit for my E360 and it would work really well in giving me the experience, that I think another internship wouldn’t really offer me,” said Nick.
Nick was able to use his part-time job at Elmwood for his E360 and even after completing it, he decided to continue in his role. As a part-time zookeeper, Nick has many different jobs and responsibilities that allow him to explore the zoo science field even more.
“I’m responsible for daily husbandry, record keeping, diet preparation, training of animals, medical observations as well as helping with medical procedures,” said Nick.
This may seem like a lot of responsibility for a college student, as Nick basically had two jobs: one as a student, and the other as a zookeeper. However, he was able to figure out a schedule with his advisor where he could still put in 30 hours a week at the zoo. While it was a little difficult to manage his time in the beginning, Nick was able to figure out exactly what he needed to do to be successful in both. Nick’s helpful tip is to keep an updated calendar with him at all times, so he doesn’t miss anything and he stays organized.
His E360 activity at Elmwood not only helped him develop basic zookeeper skills, it also allowed him to solidify his passion for the zoo science field.
“I learned a lot about my career that I’m going to go into. I definitely want to be a zookeeper and I know that now for sure. This was my first paid job at a zoo, so it showed me that I am on the right track,” said Nick.
Besides the general skills, this experience allowed Nick to discover the animals he liked to work with. He has enjoyed getting to work with the primates at the zoo and liked working with them a lot more then he thought he would. One of his favorite parts of his internship was a baby monkey being born.
To Nick, this experience was super valuable and really helped him figure out exactly what he wanted to do in the future. He even recommends this internship to other zoo science majors.
“I think our internships are great. They really help you kind of advance yourself in the field of zoo keeping as well as kind of seeing how it really is. We allow you to work with a lot of different animals as well as work alongside us,” said Nick.
So what’s next for Nick?
After graduating in May, Nick moved to a full-time zookeeper at Elmwood.
“I’m probably going to stay for about a year or so and then take what I’ve learned from there and apply it to hopefully a slightly bigger facility with a different collection,” he said. .
Not only did Nick’s E360 experience help him develop basic skills in his field, it allowed him to make connections with others and set him up for a job right after graduation.