A Summer at the Zoo

The following is a blog crafted by Adam Martinez ’18 in description of his Summer ’17 internship with the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. To secure this internship, Adam: 1) thought outside of the box 2) utilized resources outside of the Penn State network 3) connected with career services at Penn State Beaver and 4) made himself stand out by showing true interest and passion.

I applied for an internship with the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium in October 2016. In January 2017, I returned from winter break still not hearing anything, so I reached out to my career services office at Penn State Beaver. I was told to send an email to the Zoo, asking where they were in the hiring process. Within three days, I was making a trip to the Zoo to interview for the position of Special Events Intern in the Marketing Department. I found this position from looking on the Zoo’s website to see if they offered any internships. I have always loved going to zoos. When I found this opportunity, I knew it was one I had to go for.

The interview went more smoothly than I ever could have imagined. Much of the interview included me listening to the job description and answering whether or not it seemed like something I would be interested in. I answered enthusiastically each time. I was definitely interested in the opportunity.

The next day, I received an email saying that I was offered the position. I gladly accepted.

By the time May came around, I was more than ready to begin my summer at the zoo. For much of the month, three other interns and I worked on helping to plan “Dream Night”. This event brought in zoo go-ers from Children’s Hospital, Make a Wish, and other organizations that help take care of sick children and their families. The event is designed each year to let these children have an experience catered to them–to make their trip to the zoo as special as possible.

Finally, after weeks of planning, the event came around. On a rainy Sunday night, the Zoo closed to guests and the VIPs of the night, the children and their families (over 3,000 attendees) arrived at the Zoo. My task for the night was to take a few of our vendors (two face painters and a magician) to their locations in the zoo, then to work with volunteers to run the Giraffe Meet and Greet. It was an unforgettable experience. Seeing the joy of the children being up close and personal with the giraffes was truly enjoyable.

A little over a week after Dream Night, I discovered I was going to work with the Zoo’s Public Relations Director (a Penn State grad!) on a media segment the NHL Network was doing for a promotion during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. I got to spend the better part of my day driving the NHL Network analysts and their crew around for a behind the scenes tour. It was incredible to be able to see the animals myself, but to also get to work with the NHL Network team.

While Dream Night and working with the NHL Network team were my two favorite events this summer, the internship as a whole was very memorable. I was able to work with great people who taught me a lot about marketing, event planning, and public relations.

I would highly recommend to any students looking for internships to search opportunities in areas you have high interest in because you never know what you might find. Along with that, use your resources around you. Without the career services counselor at Penn State Beaver, I would not have spent this past summer as an intern for the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

By Ashley Rippey
Ashley Rippey Executive Director