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10 Veterinary Internships for High School Students

Veterinary science or medicine involves directly handling animals and plenty of hands-on work, involving prevention, care, diagnosis, management, and treatment of animals. Although most veterinarians work with domesticated animals like cats and dogs, numerous positions are also available for exotic and wild animals.

The field is highly practical and needs prior exposure. If you are a high school student interested in a veterinary career, pursuing an internship at this stage can be extremely beneficial as it can expand your knowledge, skills, and avenues in the field. Further, a veterinary internship will give you awareness of the rewards and demands of working with animals and prepare you for your career. Importantly, it will boost your college applications significantly, displaying passion and tenacity for your career.

Given the sensitive nature of veterinary work, high school internships are difficult to find. Yet, fantastic opportunities are offered around the country, some of which we have gathered and curated in this list. Take a look at the top 10 veterinary internships for high school students below and figure out which ones you want to apply for!

Location: Multiple cities in the U.S.

Eligibility: Students aged at least 16 and can carry at least 50 pounds can apply. Specific internship criteria may vary.

Application Deadline: Applications are closed for 2024 and will reopen in early 2025.

Dates: 6-10 weeks in the months of summer

Stipend: Minimum $15 per hour (exact rate may vary)

Banfield Pet Hospital is a renowned veterinary care provider with branches all over the country. Its NextVet Internship is a chance for high school students to learn about what a veterinary career entails from expert vets, industry professionals, and hospital teams. The internship is extremely prestigious, taking only around 30 students from over 500 applications, although the acceptance rate may increase for upcoming opportunities.

This internship primarily includes behind-the-scenes work at one of the vet clinics in the country. You will have the unique opportunity to witness the hospital staff as they carry out their tasks while also shadowing veterinarians and veterinary technicians. You will further receive access to virtual group sessions, support from local doctors and industry leaders, and networking opportunities with Banfield leaders.

Ladder Internships is a selective start-up internship program for ambitious high school students! In the program, you work with a high-growth start-up on an internship. Start-ups that offer internships range across a variety of industries from health tech, medicine, and more.  You can explore all the options here on their application form. Ladder’s start-ups are high-growth companies on average raising over a million dollars. Past founders have included YCombinator alums, founders raising over 30 million dollars, or founders who previously worked at Microsoft, Google, and Facebook. In the program, interns work closely with their managers and a Ladder Coach on real-world projects and present their work to the company. Here is the application form

Interns are offered one-on-one training in communication, time management and other such valuable skills and will also have the opportunity to attend group training sessions with other interns in their cohort. The virtual internship is usually 8 weeks long.

Cost: $1990 (Financial Aid Available)

Location:  Remote! You can work from anywhere in the world.

Application deadline: Deadlines vary depending on the cohort 

Program dates: Multiple cohorts throughout the year

Eligibility: Students who can work for 10-20 hours/week, for 8-12 weeks. Open to high school students, undergraduates and gap year students!

Location: Local clinics + University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

Eligibility: Tennessee high school juniors and seniors who are at least 16 years old with a minimum 3.0 GPA

Application Deadline: Applications usually close in February.

Dates: June 17, 2024 - July 19, 2024 (5 weeks)

Stipend: Paid (amount not mentioned)

The University of Tennessee’s College College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Summer Experience is an internship program that has been around since 1993. Accepting only 12 program participants, this experience is highly competitive and selective.

The program provides high school students a chance to learn about the profession, obtain educational experiences, and gain practical exposure to the field. As part of this attempt, selected students will get the chance to shadow professional veterinarians and staff in local vet clinics for a month, where they will receive crucial training and one-on-one mentorship.

In the final fifth week, students will participate in a week-long residential program on the university campus where they will take part in lectures, clinical rotations, and laboratory sessions.

Location: Pet Adoption and Protection Center, Doral, FL

Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors who can fill out an application through their high school internship coordinator

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Dates: Year-round internship options are available.

Stipend: This is an unpaid internship.

The Animal Services Department of Miami-Dade County offers an internship program to high school students by allowing them to observe and participate in daily shelter duties. If selected, you will also get the chance to receive professional mentorship and training from experts in the field to develop your skills and enhance your knowledge.

As part of the internship, you will participate in experiential learning activities, work on project-based assignments, and receive hands-on experience in working with animals. Multiple departments and interest areas are available for you to choose from, although information about these will be available only during the application process. Make sure you specify your interests and career goals when you write your statement for the application.

Location: New England Wildlife Center, Weymouth, MA

Eligibility: Students aged at least 17 can apply. Detailed requirements are listed here.

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis with a deadline in February for the summer internships.

Dates: 6-8 weeks in the summer, with longer internships possible during the non-summer months

Stipend: This is an unpaid internship.

The Wildlife and Exotic Animal Veterinary Internship Program at New England Wildlife Center is a great option if you are interested in the care of wild and rare animal and bird species. You will undertake this internship at the center’s wildlife hospital and its exotic animal veterinary practice, Odd Pet Vet. Combined, the two treat 225 species of animals.

The internship program aims to provide students with knowledge and experience in areas like veterinary medicine, STEM, veterinary medical technology, and natural history. As an intern, you will assist the veterinary and hospital staff with day-to-day tasks and operations like making food plates, maintaining and cleaning the facilities, mentoring youth and volunteers, assisting in surgeries, caring for admitted patients, and participating in educational programs for the public.

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Eligibility: High school seniors or recent high school graduates who are at least 18 years old (eligibility criteria may vary according to position)

Application Deadline: Rolling (intersession deadline) | End of March (summer session deadline)

Dates: Minimum 12 weeks (20 hours/week) during the school year (intersession) | May 29, 2024 - August 16, 2024 (full-time during the summer)

Stipend: This is an unpaid internship.

High school seniors who are rising college freshmen can opt for intersession or summer session internships at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, a national research, development, and training center for scent detection dogs. The center aims to develop a detection dog breeding and training program to execute, test, and spread knowledge. To fulfill this aim, the center is looking for passionate interns who wish to gain practical experience in the field.

These internships involve daily hands-on interaction with dogs, chances to learn about dog training and research, regular mentorship from trainers and veterinary staff, and regular maintenance of the dogs’ well-being and training environment. You can opt for internships in areas like canine fitness, behavioral science, bio-med, canine olfaction research, dog training, psychology, and law enforcement.

Location: Medical Center and Lincoln Park Adoption Center, Chicago, IL

Eligibility: High school students who are at least 16 years old and able to commit to a recurring weekly schedule

Application Deadline: December 15 (spring) | March 15 (summer) | June 15 (fall)

Dates: January-April/May (spring) | May-September (summer) | August/September-December (fall)

Stipend: This is an unpaid internship.

PAWS Chicago runs an adoption center, training center, medical center, and outreach program. It provides a limited number of high school internships in its medical center and adoption center, making it a competitive and selective program. If selected, you will have the opportunity to assist at the centers in the form of cleaning, maintaining animal welfare, feeding and walking dogs, maintaining the shelter, and lots more. These are all essential skills and experiences you will need to move on to a rigorous study and career in veterinary science.

Note that you must be a part of a career or job-readiness program offered by your school or community organization to apply for this internship. Once selected, you will receive your minimum hour and schedule requirements.

Location: Washington, D.C. | Front Royal, VA | Herndon, VA. In-person, hybrid, and virtual formats are available.

Eligibility: High school students are eligible, with criteria varying depending on the position

Application Deadline: Varies based on position

Dates: Varies based on position

Stipend: Some internships are paid (amount varies) while others are unpaid.

The Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute offers numerous internship opportunities in areas like animal care, veterinary medicine, animal enrichment, animal behavior, conservation, nutrition, genetics, and more. Each internship has its own requirements and job roles, so make sure to check each opportunity’s description thoroughly before applying. The zoo keeps updating its offerings multiple times a year, so you are likely to find something relevant if you keep an eye on the website throughout the year.

Current relevant internships include the Small Mammal House Enrichment Internship, in which interns will participate in enrichment and husbandry-related tasks at the zoo’s Small Mammal House. You will focus on species-specific behavior for over 30 mammal species. Volunteering positions are also available.

Location: Bronx Zoo, Bronx, NY

Eligibility: High school seniors aged at least 18 can apply. Confirm which internships accept high school students before applying.

Application Deadline: Varies based on position

Dates: March-May (spring) | May-August (summer) | September-December (fall) | January-March (winter)

Stipend: Paid (amount varies based on position)

The Bronx Zoo comprises multiple zoos and settings, such as the New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Bronx Zoo, and Prospect Park Zoo. Each place further offers various internship opportunities in animal care, including animal enrichment, behavioral husbandry, aviculture, animal behavior research, and focused aquarium work with sharks, fish and invertebrates, sea cliffs, and behavioral husbandry aqua theaters.

As part of these internship roles, you will learn all about caring for animals in zoos or aquariums by carrying out tasks like record keeping, dietary preparation, exhibit and life support maintenance, observation, training, and enrichment. These tasks are a great way to familiarize yourself with animals and prepare yourself for more intricate roles in veterinary science.

Location: North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro, NC

Eligibility: High school students who are 16-18 years old, can lift at least 50 pounds, and can work in demanding climatic conditions can apply. Check the detailed requirements here before applying.

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in early April.

Dates: Mid-June - July (6 weeks)

Stipend: This is an unpaid internship.

North Carolina Zoo’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center offers 6-week (or more) internships that involve 80 hours of work, requiring two 6-hour shifts each week and 2-hour training sessions each week. As part of the internship, you will assist with the routine daily care and maintenance of wildlife patients and resident animals. Some of your duties will include admitting patients, keeping records, answering phones, and husbandry and feeding.

Additionally, interns will get the rare chance to assist with various medical tasks under the guidance of the veterinary staff. Such tasks could include assisting with radiographs and surgeries and administering treatments to animals. Research, tours, training, animal rescues, and project work are some other interesting elements of this internship.

Location: WildCare, San Rafael, CA

Eligibility: Graduating high school seniors who are at least 18 years old and have prior practical/academic experience in the field

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until all spots are full.

Dates: April-September. Applicants can opt for a 3- or 6-month full-time internship.

Stipend: $200 per week

WildCare delivers medical care, community engagement, environmental education, and advocacy for the protection of wildlife and habitat. It runs a wildlife hospital where students can intern.

If selected, you will be able to learn and carry out tasks like disinfection, cleaning and maintenance of habitats, food preparation and administration using nutritional guidelines, wildlife restraint and handling, common splinting and wing wrap techniques, calculating and preparing medicine doses, administering medication, and more. Additionally, interns will receive educational material and quizzes and will take a final exam at the end of the session. You will also undertake independent projects and presentations on topics in wildlife medicine and rehabilitation.

One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in doing university-level research in veterinary science or related fields, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students that I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a Ph.D. student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: The University of Tennessee logo


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