Internships: Breana Downs ’24 spends the summer with native birds at the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Alliance
PLU can connect you to out-of-this-world professional experiences through internships! PLU even offers scholarships for internship-related expenses so you can get the internship experience without worrying about funding.
This summer, Breana Downs ’24 had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience (literally) with some of the native-winged creatures during her time at Rocky Mountain Wildlife Alliance. Read about her once-in-a-lifetime experience below!
How did your internship experience come to be at Rocky Mountain Wildlife Alliance?
BD: The founder of Rocky Mountain Wildlife Alliance posted an ad for the internship on ornithologyexcgange.com. This link was then sent to me by my PLU mentor Ben Sonnenberg ‘14, a former PLU research assistant. (PLU mentors are PLU alumni who have already made significant contributions to their respective fields and work to assist students in making advancements towards their academic and career goals.) I applied, interviewed, and was offered the position!
How did this internship affect your future career goals?
BD: My goal is to get licensed for wildlife rehabilitation in Washington State and eventually open my own wildlife rehabilitation center in Grays Harbor County! I have learned a tremendous amount about wildlife rehabilitation, husbandry, medicine, and animal training during this internship, and I will take all of these experiences with me in this future endeavor!
What was one of the most memorable moments from your internship, and what did you learn from it?
BD: The most memorable moment of my internship was performing a rescue for a juvenile Golden Eagle who fell from his nest, puncturing his right thorax on the way down. After being admitted to our care, we discovered he also has suspected West Nile Virus and Avian Pox. He is recovering well and is still in the Alliance’s care!
Caring for this Golden Eagle showed me how big and powerful these birds are. I also learned how unreliable certain blood tests can be in wildlife veterinary medicine. His blood test for West Nile Virus initially came back negative!
If you were to offer advice to other students considering internships, what valuable insights would you share with them based on your experience?
BD: If you can make the sacrifice, I would recommend considering unpaid internships that give opportunities that other paid internships would not! For example, this internship was unpaid, but I gained hands-on medical experience that I would not have been exposed to with other paid wildlife rehabilitation internships that I considered for this summer. Specifically, how to feel for bone fractures, do wing wraps on different birds, and administer meds and fluids. This experience has set me ahead greatly in both the wildlife veterinary and rehabilitation paths!