https://www.sheddaquarium.org/

Shedd Aquarium

Guest Relations

June - August 2019 • Chicago, IL

What I liked

The hours are one thing I liked. They were very flexible since there was such a streamlined process for picking them up and dropping them. Another aspect of work I liked was the managers, who were always on the floor with us and willing to help us through tough situations.

What I wish was different

At some points, I wish there was just a bit more instruction when it came to new tasks. Although I am a quick learner, I sometimes had to learn things on my own. Another thing I wish was different were my positions. It felt like after a while, I was being put in the same places without much change. Though I did learn to be quite good at the roles I was assigned, I wish my experience was more varied.

Advice

Patience is definitely key to working in guest relations and truly any job that involves customer service. Even in an amazing place like an aquarium, people can and will find things to complain about. More times than not, you are not responsible for their happiness. The best thing you can do in those situations is to try not to make them worse. Be calm and patient.
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Conservation Travel and Action Intern

June - August 2019 • Chicago, IL

What I liked

Besides the fact that it was my dream job, I loved the culture of the organization and the emphasis they put on work life balance!

What I wish was different

I was there for a longer period of time

Advice

Don't be afraid to reach out to others in the organization to get to know them and their jobs!
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Aquarium Microbiome Research Assistant

June - August 2019 • Chicago, IL

What I liked

The team that I worked with was passionate, encouraging and welcoming. Immediately, I was taught how to have a hands-on roll in the research, though I had not had prior expertise in this type of sample collection. I was given the opportunity to work alongside incredible and awe-inspiring marine mammals, and to learn from their equally as amazing care staff and veterinarians.

What I wish was different

The only thing I would change about this experience would be to work more often! This was a part-time position, and I would have loved to be able to come in everyday.

Advice

My biggest piece of advice would be to reach out to possible mentors and employers about possible shadowing and employment opportunities. Oftentimes, the most exciting biology positions are never posted, or are posted in very niche communities. By creating connections and relationships with people in STEM, and demonstrating your passion and work-ethic, you will create opportunities for yourself!
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Conservation Communications Intern

January - June 2019 • Chicago, IL

What I liked

Getting to work on a variety of hands-on projects, meeting a broad network of some incredible people, the ability to learn not only through creating PR materials in the office but getting to go off-site to tag along during media interviews and other events, my supervisor was amazing!

What I wish was different

I wish the commute to Museum Campus wasn't so long, and that I participated more in staff meetings.

Advice

Meet as many people as you can, put thought and effort into your work even if it means taking a little longer on a project, don't be afraid to speak up and ask questions, take advantage of working in the #1 cultural institution in Chicago!
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Field Research Intern

June - August 2018 • Chicago, IL

What I liked

I had a good amount of independent work and teamwork and my supervisor was incredible!

What I wish was different

I wish I had seen more of the office climate and what other researchers were doing in their day to day but I enjoyed focusing on my project too

Advice

Do it all and passionately, you’ll gain a lot of knowledge! Ask so many questions!
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Major Gifts and Annual Giving Intern

June - September 2018 • Chicago, IL

What I liked

This summer I was at Shedd Aquarium interning as a major and annual gifts development intern. At Shedd, I gained experience in strategic planning, donor communication, as well as stewardship and donor cultivation research. My projects ranged from data analysis, to event logistics, to writing, to research. This included writing quarterly updates about Shedd's inhabitants for our Adopt-An-Animal program, writing stewardship reports to update major donors about the impact of their contribution to Shedd's mission, conducting cost-benefit analysis on our non-membership donation avenues, cross checking donation's fund stream allocation and critical donor capacity assessment. I thoroughly enjoyed the Shedd community! From my colleagues who've become mentors, to the mammals and sea life we have right downstairs, I've appreciated getting immersed in the Shedd family. My supervisor made sure to include me at every step of the way, inviting me to team meetings and donor tours, as well as Development team outings. I've also been surrounded by aquatic life, sometimes through fun programming and other times just accidental encounters, and have learned so much about conservation and ecology.

What I wish was different

Some days there wasn't as much to do as other days. It would have been nicer to be kept a little more busy, but in retrospect I appreciated the downtime which allowed me to build relationships with colleagues and take advantage of the Aquarium.

Advice

The biggest takeaway I've gotten from my internship is to get involved! It can be intimidating to walk into a meeting not knowing anyone, go to a team outing during your first week, or inviting a fellow intern you don't know that well to lunch, but the value of these connections will surprise you. They can help improve your professional knowledge, give you a better idea of possible career paths, or get you involved in a new project.
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Fishes Intern

May - July 2018 • Chicago, IL

What I liked

The hands on access to the animals of the galleries department (where I worked). Specifically, being given the independence to handle feeds of a verity of fish and other marine species independently from my supervisors. My supervisors were also INCREDIBLY supportive and understanding. They also offered free included tours of other Chicago institutions (such as the Field Museum.

What I wish was different

The only thing I disliked about this internship was the start time of 8:00 am, which required me to get up at 6:00 to arrive to work on time. However, I guess that is a normal reality of being an adult :(.

Advice

That it is an incredible way to gain hands on experience caring for marine organisms and for understanding aquatic saltwater systems.
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Development Intern

February - June 2017 • Chicago, IL

What I liked

The team is very engaged and willing to help you grow as a professional.

What I wish was different

I wish there was more that I could have done during the internship for experience.

Advice

It’s a great place to work however if you have another opportunity that focuses on your major that may be more valuable.
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Horticulture Intern

June - September 2017 • Chicago, IL

What I liked

The opportunity to conduct research in an urban setting, the chance to work on projects outside of my research, being able to interact with and educate the aquarium guests about the gardens/butterflies/etc., the intern events and behind the scenes tours, and the chance to connect with some truly amazing people.

What I wish was different

I wish I would have taken advantage of my internship benefits and resources more, like the staff library and volunteering events.

Advice

As a part of the Dean's Undergraduate Research Fellowship, this kind of internship opportunity is an incredible learning experience for anyone in the College of Science and Health. I cannot recommend this experience enough and think that everyone should apply. Also, take advantage of your internship environmnet and benefits! Most people are happy to help out interns or let you shadow them... you won't necessarily get the chance to be in a similar position again so reach out to your co-workers and absorb as much information as possible!
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Social Media Marketing Intern

May - August 2018 • Chicago, IL

What I liked

Everybit. I enjoyed creative freedom in creating social media posts and drafting blogs for Shedd’s website. I also learned a lot about social analytics and about what goes into a plan for this type of marketing.

What I wish was different

I wish my schedule had allowed me to go more than three days a week.

Advice

Don’t let yourself overthink the simple things. A lot of the time it will be the simplest response that is best.
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