Gain valuable knowledge, skills and work experience as an intern at the Minnesota Zoo!
The Minnesota Zoo offers unpaid internships in many of its divisions. A MN Zoo internship provides workplace experience and the opportunity to learn about careers in zoology, education, communication, conservation, and public service.
All interns promote the mission of the MN Zoo: To connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife. College students who are accepted as interns at the Zoo have a unique opportunity to gain practical workplace experience, complete a meaningful independent projected related to their internship placement, and fulfill an academic requirement within their program of study.
Please note: Because the MN Zoo is an agency of the State of Minnesota, all college interns at the Minnesota Zoo MUST be:
- Enrolled in an accredited educational institution AND
- Completing an internship for academic credit as part of their academic program OR
- Completing an internship as a means of fulfilling an academic requirement as part of their academic program
The schedule of internship availability follows that of the post-secondary academic calendar. Within these parameters, application openings and closing dates, and internship start and end dates may vary.
2019 – 2020 Internship Periods
Fall Semester Internships, 2019: Between September 7, 2019 and December 12, 2019
Spring Semester internship, 2020: Between February 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020
Summer Internships, 2020: Between May 12, 2020 and August 27, 2020
Fall Internships, 2020: Between September 12, 2020 and December 10, 2020
Internships at the MN Zoo are 10, 12, or 13 weeks long. See position descriptions for information about the schedule in each work area.
Unpaid Internships, Fall 2019 Re-posting:
The Minnesota Zoo will accept applications for a few fall semester internship placements between June 12, 2019 and June 26, 2019.
Fall 2019 internships will be scheduled between September 10, 2019 and December 13, 2019. Internship periods may be 10, 12, or 13 weeks long.
Successful applicants MUST attend a mandatory MN Zoo Orientation and On-boarding meeting during the week before they report for their first day in their assigned work area.
Zoological Graphic Design Internships(unpaid)
Interns in this area work with the marketing team to increase public awareness, generate an understanding of, and excitement for, the Minnesota Zoo and its programs.
Applicants must be students in an accredited post-secondary graphic design program and must be fully competent in using Adobe design software.
Zoo Keeper Internships: Animal Care (unpaid)
Zoo Keeper Interns learn in depth about the care of animals in the Zoo’s collections. They prepare diets, maintain sanitary conditions for the animals in the Zoo’s collection, and develop enrichment. Zoo keeper interns also may interpret some exhibits for the public.
Interpretive Naturalist Internships: Animal Programs (unpaid)
Interns in interpretive naturalist positions connect guests with the Zoo’s collections to promote its conservation message and help to care for the collections by preparing diets, maintaining sanitary conditions, conducting observational research, and preparing enrichment.
Zoological Exhibit Design Internship (unpaid)
The process of designing a new Zoo exhibit is complex and fascinating. Exhibit designers must consider both the needs and habits of animal residents, and the needs of their zoo keepers and the Zoo’s human visitors. Interns will learn the different stages of developing a new exhibit, including researching where the animal lives in the wild, selecting plants to include in the exhibit, and making decisions about materials and surfaces.
Unpaid Internships which may be available in the future
From the cooperative breeding programs and conservation action campaigns we lead, to restoration of local wildlife and green practices on site, conservation is at the heart of everything at the MN Zoo. The engine of Zoo’s conservation work is its Conservation and Field Biology Research team. These scientists work locally, regionally, and internationally to lead projects that address a wide range of threats to endangered species and their natural habitats.
The Conservation and Field Biology Research Assistant Intern works under the direction of the Field Conservation Supervisor and may receive additional direction from the MN Zoo’s Conservations Biologists and/or Conservation Specialists. The Intern may assist with research tasks including data collection, management, and analysis; maintaining equipment and spaces to assure proper research procedures are followed; and communicating project updates.
Minnesota Zoological Gardens is seeking an intern to work with the Evaluation and Research Specialist to assist with various projects, including exhibit evaluation and other social science research. General duties will include data entry and analysis, intercept surveys and interviews, visitor observations, and other duties as available.
The successful candidate should have an interest in museum interpretation, evaluation, and research, with a demonstrated ability to interact with the general public in a pleasant and courteous manner. Proficiency with varied computer software and data management, as well as excellent written and oral communication skills is required. Due to the nature of our organization and visitors, a portion of the weekly hours are expected to occur during the weekend. The intern will work under the direction of the Evaluation and Research specialist.
Zoological Human Resources Internship (unpaid)
The Minnesota Zoo’s Human Resources team is responsible for supporting about 220 full-time, part-time, and intermittent staff. In the spring and summer, that number grows to between 270 and 300 with the addition of temporary staff.
The Minnesota Zoo employs people from a wide variety of backgrounds. In addition to typical “zoo jobs” such as veterinary technicians, interpretive naturalists, zookeepers, zoologists, and veterinarians, the business end of the Zoo requires people with many different skills, from accountants and marketing staff to carpenters and guest services staff.
Zoological Intern- Human Resources
Zoological Animal Health Internship: Vet Tech (unpaid)
The Animal Health Department at the Minnesota Zoo is responsible for the care and management of all animals in its collection. As a vet tech intern, you will have hands-on experience with mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.
Applicants must be students in an accredited Veterinarian Technician program of study and must have completed required coursework in surgery and anesthesia prior to beginning this internship.
Zoological Intern – Interpretive Naturalist, Outreach (Zoomobile)
Zoological Intern-Education, School Programs (K-12)
None at this time
For additional information, please email the MN Zoo Internship and Youth Development Coordinator at [email protected].
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A: The Minnesota Zoo is an agency of the State of Minnesota. Therefore, all applicants to the Minnesota Zoo internship program must meet the State’s statutory and procedure eligibility criteria to be considered.
- Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited institution.
- Applicants must be seeking an internship for academic credit as part of their academic program OR
- Applicants must be seeking an internship as a means of fulfilling an academic requirement as part of their academic program
A: No. Applicants for internships at the Minnesota Zoo must be enrolled in an accredited educational institution AND be seeking an internship for academic credit as part of their academic program or as a means of fulfilling an academic requirement as part of their academic program.
Q: Are internships available to individuals who already have completed an internship at the Minnesota Zoo?
A: Priority given to applicants who have not interned at the MN Zoo in the past.
A: Internships are available in Operations, Animal Programs, and Conservation & Nature Programs.
Please note that not all internships are available during all Internship Periods.
- Operations Placements
- Graphic Design Internship
- Photography Internship
- Sales & Events Internship
- Social Media Internship
- Animal Programs Placements
- Animal Health
- Veterinarian Technician
- Animal Observation, Enrichment, and Research
- Veterinarian Technician
- Animal Husbandry (care, feeding, cleaning)
- Aquariums Internship
- Bird Department Internship
- Life Support Systems Internship
- MN & Tropics Trail Internship
- Northern Trail Internship
- Animal Collection Interpretation
- Close Encounters Internship
- Marine Mammals Internship
- World of Birds Internship
- Conservation & Nature Placements
- K-12 School Programs Internship (Education)
- Early Childhood and Nature Play Internship (Education)
- Outreach (Zoomobile) Internship
- Animal Health
- Operations Placements
A: Not at this time. Check back for updates on the Zoo’s externship program.
A: Internships are offered in accordance with traditional academic calendars:
- Fall (for internships from September to December)
- Winter/Spring (a limited number of January term internships may be available; most internships are semester-long and are scheduled between January and May)
- Summer (for internships from May-August)
A: Internships at the MN Zoo are 10, 12, or 13 weeks long. Interns work between 24 and 40 hours per week. See the position description for each internship for information about its length, required number of hours, and schedule.
A: Weekly schedules vary by work area, and may include Saturdays or Sundays. Hours, too, vary by work area, and may start as early as 6:00 a.m. and end as late as 6:30 p.m. Some intern work areas may require overnight commitments. Interns may work 4-ten hour days or 5-eight hour days.
A: Position descriptions for the different internships offered at the Minnesota Zoo are available elsewhere on the Internships webpage.
All interns are required to complete a project as part of their internship experience.
A: No. Internships at the Minnesota Zoo are unpaid.
A: No. The Minnesota Zoo does not offer these services.
A: The Minnesota Zoo uses the State of Minnesota’s online Recruiting Solutions to manage its internship application process. Information about how to use this system is available on the Minnesota Careers webpage.
A: Yes. The Minnesota Zoo no longer accepts applications by email or postal mail.
A: Once you have created a profile within the state of Minnesota’s Recruiting Solutions online system, you will be able to use this to start an application to any of the MN Zoo’s internships. You will need to answer two screening questions and upload a current resume and a letter of interest for the specific internship to which you are applying.
If your application passes the online screening, then you will receive a follow-up email requesting you to submit a copy of a current transcript (unofficial is acceptable) and to complete a short Intern Interest Survey online.
A: You will need to submit a copy of your transcript (unofficial is acceptable) and to complete a brief, online Intern Interest Survey, which requests the names and contact information for two references as well as other information about your placement preferences. Once you have submitted your application, you will receive an email with instructions for completing your application.
In some internship work areas, samples of your past work and/or access to your online portfolio may be required before an interview.
A: Applications for internships open seasonally, in advance of internship start dates.
- Fall semester internships open to applicants in late June and early July; internships start in September
- Winter and spring semester internships open to applicants in late September and early October; internships start in January
- Summer internships open to applicants in mid-January and February; internships start in May
A: No. We accept applications only when internships are posted as “open.”
A: Check the Minnesota Zoo Internship webpage regularly for updates.
A: Each applicant may apply for up to three different internships. The Intern Interest Survey will ask for information about placement preference from individuals who apply to more than one opening. (Individuals may apply to up to 3 different internships per internship period.)
A: Interns in most animal management work areas are required to provide documentation of a negative TB mantoux test result from within the last 12 months before the Internship Agreement among the intern, the intern’s college or university, and the MN Zoo can be prepared.
Mantoux Test Required:
Aquariums (Zoo Keeper Intern)
Behavioral Husbandry (Interpretive Naturalist Intern)
Close Encounters (Interpretive Naturalist Intern)
Farm (Farm Keeper Intern)
Life Support Systems (Zoo Keeper Intern)
Marine Mammals (Interpretive Naturalist Intern)
MN & Tropics Trails (Zoo Keeper Intern)
Northern Trail (Zoo Keeper Intern)
Outreach-Zoomobile (Interpretive Naturalist Intern)
Summer Seasonal (Zoo Keeper Intern)
Vet Tech (Vet Tech Intern)
Mantoux Test NOT Required:
Birds Department (Zoo Keeper Intern)
World of Birds (Interpretive Naturalist Intern)
A: Interns in some animal management work areas who have not had a rabies vaccine can complete an internship at the MN Zoo. Their activities will be limited to species that do not carry rabies.
Internship placements for which a rabies vaccine is recommended include Behavioral Husbandry, Close Encounters, MN & Tropics Trails, Northern Trail, Outreach (Zoomobile), Vet Tech.
A: The Minnesota Careers website has excellent information and tips for navigating the online application process. The Minnesota Zoo’s Internship and Youth Development Coordinator can answer questions by email (preferred) at [email protected], or by phone (952-431-9307).
A: After you submit your application, Recruiting Solutions will confirm that your submission was successful, and you also will receive an email notification.
At the Minnesota Zoo, work area intern coordinators and/or work area supervisors will review your on line application and answers to screening questions to determine if you meet the required qualifications.
If you meet the required qualifications, you will either:
- Be contacted by phone or email to be invited to an interview. Interviews may be conducted in person, by phone, or using an online application that allows for video calls,
- Be notified that you are no longer being considered because the applicant pool was narrowed to a reasonable size based on applicant qualifications and rankings.
If you do not meet the required job qualifications, you will receive an email to let you know you are no longer being considered.
Information in this section has been adapted from the Minnesota Careers webpage.