CCI Internships

Internships at the Center for Conservation Innovation (CCI) provide an opportunity for advanced undergraduate, graduate or post-graduate students to work with CCI and other Defenders staff at the interface of conservation science, technology and policy. We look for candidates who are self-starters driven by the opportunity to transform wildlife conservation while learning new skills. CCI interns join a cohort of 2-5 interns and become seasonal members of the CCI team, participating in weekly team meetings and other relevant Defenders staff events. We pride ourselves in cultivating a close-knit, supportive and fun working environment where innovation and interdisciplinarity are encouraged.

CCI interns have contributed to conservation projects involving species like grizzly bear, Hawksbill sea turtle, and Florida scrub jay. (Image credit left to right: © Eric Schmidt, © Ramon Fernandez, © Thomas G. Barnes/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Skill development: Interns lead or contribute to finished products, such as web apps , story maps , scientific papers , white papers and blog articles , that directly contribute to conservation and career advancement (see interns in the Alumni profiles for specific projects). Skill development varies with the specific topic, but interns generally have the opportunity to gain an understanding of how the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) is implemented in practice and build experience in areas such as conservation data science and policy, statistical analyses, GIS, remote sensing, programming, conservation technology, scientific writing and visualizing data. Collaboration with departments across Defenders is a component of most internships, thereby cultivating experience in interdisciplinary approaches, teamwork and communication.

Logistics: CCI internships are typically 3-4 months in duration and correspond with the academic calendar (spring, summer, fall) but can be extended or shifted based on project needs and candidate availability. CCI internships are based at Defenders’ Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Remote work may be considered for exceptional candidates.

Our 2018 ‘Threat-a-thon’ brought together CCI summer interns and staff for a victorious day of data collection and pizza. Pictured above include interns Cyrus Parvereshi (second from left) and Cora Ottaviani (second from right) with CCI staff.

Funding: Internships are unpaid. Local transportation costs up to $10 per day are reimbursed. Students are encouraged to seek opportunities for funding or academic credit through their schools or outside sources. Programs that Defenders’ interns have worked with in the past include the Watson Fellowship, Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation and the Stanback Internship with Duke University. We may be able to work with students to develop funding applications as time and resources allow.

Tips for applying: CCI internships are competitive internships with ~6% acceptance rate. We strongly encourage you to tailor your cover letter and resume to focus on your interest in working with Defenders of Wildlife and CCI specifically. In your cover letter, please discuss how your skills match the qualifications, responsibilities and goals of the internship position. It would be beneficial to review the mission and scope of our work and share how working with us would advance your skills and help achieve your career goals. If your work positions and experiences are limited, share with us how your work on a related class project strengthened your analytical skills and impacted your understanding of the ESA (for example). We are looking for candidates who stand apart in explaining how interning with CCI will refine their skills and advance their career objectives.

Application and deadlines: Please visit Defenders’ job page for available CCI internship positions. Internship positions will be posted 2-3 months in advance of the deadline for the next term (spring, summer, fall). Please refer to the exact deadline in the internship position posting, but generally spring internships (start around February 1st) are due in early December; summer internships (start around June 1st) are due in mid-March; and fall internships (start around September 15th) are due at the end of July. Deadlines for some positions vary from this schedule based on project needs, so be sure to check the internship posting for the exact deadline.

The topics of CCI internship positions vary each season based on needs for ongoing and upcoming projects. Applicants are welcome to apply to more than one Defenders or CCI internship. Please submit an application to each position using the online portal, and be sure to tailor the cover letter to discuss how your skills are relevant for that specific position. If you apply for multiple positions, we encourage you to mention that you have applied to multiple positions in your cover letters so we can coordinate the review of your applications between hiring managers.

Advanced candidates: Most of our internship positions are best suited for undergraduate and Master’s students or recent graduates. If you are a PhD student or postdoc-level candidate interested in working with CCI, please contact us to share your interests and ideas. We welcome self-starters with developed project ideas in which collaboration with CCI staff would enhance the real-world application and/or implementation of the project.

Questions: Inquiries about CCI internships may be emailed to Naanibah Begay or the hiring manager listed in the specific position description.

CCI interns participate in a rally supporting the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). (Image credit: © Kethelyn Papp)