Being an intern for the past three years has been an exciting journey! As I continue my journey to college in the fall, as well as five other interns, I am excited for the future and hope to continue my connection with the intern program during my college years. The transition from a part time Leadership Council intern to an associate intern is going to be strange. Associate interns are interns that are pursuing higher education in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field yet remain involved in the program during the summer months, whereas the normal interns work year round. Once the new associates go off to college they are always welcomed with open arms to come back to the Academy and work during winter break and the summer break. The associates appreciate the fact that they still have a job when they come home from college and they are able to catch up with the intern family. When school starts it will be very strange to not have to go to work on the public floor of the museum, but its bittersweet because I will be coming back whenever I get the chance!
In June 2011, interns hosted a celebration luncheon for science mentors and graduating interns. At this luncheon, we had delicious food, provided by the academy café, to celebrate the mentors the interns had worked with. These include Academy curators, biologists, and researchers; they received gifts as a token of our appreciation. Most interns spent about a year with their mentors, so this luncheon was a bittersweet moment because it marked the end of our externship. However, at the end of the luncheon, Eric, the manager of the program, presented each of the graduating interns with a certificate and a book that represented their personality. The winners of the CiS Scholarship were also announced at the luncheon! Three of the six graduating interns received scholarships ranging between $1, 000 to $2, 500 to help them pay for college.
One of the most exciting opportunities we have being an intern is when you’re a level 2 intern or higher you get to work with a biologist at the Academy. I have the chance to work with Vicki McCloskey, a biologist who specializes in taking care for birds. Every Thursday and Friday, I meet my biologist at 7 o’clock in the morning. We walk over to the kitchen and get food for the birds in the rain forest, including the parrots, are in the rain forest and the raptors out in the east garden. Once we’ve collected all of our food we head over to the rainforest. Three different feeding stations have to be set up for the birds along with two feeding stations filled with nectar for the butterlfies. While we are doing all of this we have to keep a keen eye out and mark down all the birds we spot. There are over 30 birds in the rainforest and we have to eventually spot all of them. We mark down the birds we don’t see. After everything in the rain forest is taken care of, we head over to the raptors while being fully equipped with some tasty rodents. Once in the aviary with the three Turkey Vultures just roaming around, I have to clean the sleeping quarters of the loose feathers that might have fallen off during the night.
The intern program recently lost a member of our family: Newtie, our Fire Bellied Newt. Due to the new workplace protocol, terrestrial animals were no longer allowed in open quarters; this meant our beloved amphibian of over 8 years was being evicted. Fortunately Newtie was only moved downstairs to the Early Explorers Cove Animal Room and is still available for us to bring out on the public floor. But all interns who knew him still felt their hearts drop a little at the sight of the empty desk space where Newtie once resided. However, instead of seeing this as a moment of grief, I saw it as a great opportunity to set up an aquarium for the intern program. Using resources I already had at home from keeping personal aquariums, the intern fish tank was almost free of charge. Our 10 gallon aquarium houses 8 Tiger Barbs (Puntius tetrazona) who like to shoal under the driftwood rifts and dart between freshwater plants generously donated to us by Steinhart biologist Brooke Weinstein. Though only in its early stages, our fish tank seems to be doing well and the future for our aquatic pals is looking great!
Interviews are a normally a daunting and unpleasant process, but for me, interviews mark the start of my next step in the program. As a new level 2 intern, I have the opportunity to participate in the hiring process of the next year’s group of interns. Since the intern program started in 1996, interns have had the privilege of taking up major roles in the hiring process. Participating in the interviews takes stress away from the Managers because they have extra help. During the application process, the level 2 and up interns interview these applicants for two rounds of interviews. The interns have an opportunity to place their own ideas on the table and influence the decision in selecting the person that is most suitable for this internship.