VLM Internships are primarily designated for students enrolled in college or program of academic study. Candidates not enrolled in college will be considered on a case by case basis and must follow all guidelines and term lengths.
Name of Internship: Aquarist Intern
Summary of Internship: The Aquarist Internship is an un-paid, experiential learning opportunity that will take place over the course of one semester. Interns will have the unique opportunity to assist in the daily husbandry and maintenance required for the museum’s live aquatic collection and their corresponding life support systems. Currently the museum holds 100 aquatic species in its collection, including threatened and endangered species, as well as sharks and a sea turtle. Interns will gain experience in the husbandry and maintenance required to sustain these species. The intern may also be called upon to assist with administrative record-keeping.
The Virginia Living Museum takes applications for one semester Aquariums Internships on a rolling deadline. Spring Internships begin January/February, Summer Internships begin May/June and Fall Internships begin August/September each year.
Length of Internship: The Aquarist Internship is offered on a one semester basis (10-14 weeks) with the choice of a fall, spring, or summer semester (summer being offered to those that live in the area). The internship may include some weekends, holidays, and possible offsite events.
For best consideration, please apply by August 1 for the fall semester, January 1 for the spring semester, and May 1 for the summer.
Number of hours required: 4 hours per week in half day shifts (either 9-1 am or 1-5 pm)
Qualifications for this Internship: Interns must be at least 18 years of age and be current college students, or have previous college degree in Biology or related fields (ex: Marine Science, Environmental Science, Zoology, etc.) Candidates should have a strong career interest in the field of Ichthyology, marine biology, aquatic ecology or desire to obtain experience in aquatic husbandry. Candidates must be able to work independently or with minimal supervision, be reliable, on time, and be open and honest.
The intern will gain experience with the following: Daily and weekly duties that are required for maintaining a live aquatic collection, local aquatic ecology, and behind-the-scenes duties/responsibilities of a public zoo/aquarium setting, and how to work independently and be responsible for weekly tasks. Most notably, interns will have the opportunity to relate their current college courses with everyday Aquarist work procedures (ex. chemistry, ecology, etc.).
Duties – The intern will perform the following tasks:
Water chemistry and water quality monitoring
Exhibit cleaning/maintenance (ex. gravel washing)
Food preparations and feeding
Public feeding programs
Other duties as assigned, based on good performance, proficiency and motivation
Please note this internship does not deal with marine mammals.
Projects - A reflection paper due at the end of the semester to include:
The intern’s development over the course of the internship (ex: new knowledge, skills gained, professional direction, emotional growth, etc.)
Driving forces that contributed to the success of the intern over the course of the internship
The strengths and weaknesses of the program
Length: 1.5-2 pages, 1.5 line spacing, Times New Roman, 12 point font
Expectations – The intern is expected to adhere to the following policies:
Be dependable and responsible
Be able to manage time (be on time, watch time for public programs, etc.)
If not able to come to shift, communicate that with Volunteer Services as well as Aquarium staff.
Communicate well with staff, fellow volunteers and guests
Have an appreciation, even passion, for aquatic nature and conservation
Be comfortable keeping busy, and getting clothing wet/dirty at times
Interns are expected to adhere to the museum-wide volunteer attendance policy and may not miss more than 50% of their total number of shifts. Additionally, they must adhere to the Aquarium Department’s attendance policy and have no more than three last minute callouts. It is imperative that their supervisor has no less than one week’s notice of any absence, unless the absence is due to a valid emergency situation. Aquariums Staff holds the right to dismiss any interns who do not adhere to this attendance policy.
Evaluation – The intern will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
Interns will be watched and evaluated by staff during the course of their internship with formal evaluations taking place at the mid- and end-point of the internship. Staff will monitor and judge their progress, motivation, improvement and dedication. As interns improve, they will be rewarded by being provided with tasks that require more skill and responsibility. Conversely, poor effort and/or less responsible behavior will result in reduced opportunities or termination of the internship.
The evaluation tool that will be used is the museum’s intern evaluation form.
Feedback: The intern’s project for the semester will also act as the main source of feedback. This 1.5-2 page reflection will outline the development of the intern, the driving forces contributing to their success, and the strengths and weaknesses of the internship program. This reflection paper will be given to the Aquarium Curator for further consideration.
How to Apply: Submit cover letter, resume, unofficial transcript, and volunteer application to the Volunteer Services Office. Be sure to specify “Aquarist Internship” on the application. Applications can be found at www.theVLM.org and follow links to the volunteer pages.