Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Bird House Exhibit Project Internship

Be part of the team creating a new exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. The Zoo is renovating the Bird House and surrounding area, themed on bird migration, to provide an outstanding visitor experience, world-class animal care and sustainable and efficient operations. The multidisciplinary team is offering a learning experience for an intern interesting in gaining firsthand knowledge and experience through the design phase of this innovative project.


This is an unpaid internship opportunity wherein the intern will support the Department of Animal Programs-Bird House and the Department of Public Engagement.

Through this internship, interns will:

  • Learn alongside professional staff to understand the roles and processes during the development of a complex zoo exhibit
  • Learn the team approach process to project management
  • Gain knowledge assisting in an exhibits office in a zoo environment
  • Gain skills in writing for informal science audiences; gain experience within an interdisciplinary team (e.g., including designer, curator, educator) and experience how diverse or opposing ideas are negotiated to a positive result.
  • Learn to research and compile natural history, conservation and husbandry needs of the over 200 species for the exhibit; performing additional background content research and image search; assist in creating a public awareness campaign for the new exhibit; conducting exhibit evaluation and prototyping; other duties as assigned. Please note, the position does not involve direct animal care.
  • Gain experience under the mentorship of the Bird House curator, although assignments will generate from the Bird House, Office of Public Engagement and Office of Planning and Strategic Initiatives.


  • An active college student with GPA of 3.0 or higher pursuing a degree in a biology related field, architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning or exhibit design
  • Someone interested in improving their verbal and written communication skills
  • Anyone interested in improving their critical thinking skills and researching ability
  • A person interested in learning how to work in a team environment with staff as well as independently


This is an unpaid internship. Special consideration will be given to applicants who receive college credit for internship. Intern is responsible for obtaining necessary approvals from their university. Intern will be responsible for all transportation costs and personal health insurance.


Rock Creek-Washington, D.C.


The intern will make his or her own housing arrangements in the Washington, D.C., area. Parking is not provided to National Zoo interns. Public transportation is strongly suggested.


The National Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution do not provide free parking to interns.


There are three internship sessions during the year: spring, summer, and fall. Interns will be expected to provide at least 25-40 hours a week, splitting their time among the three departments as needed.


  • Fall session (September 15 through December 15):
  • Applications must be submitted by July 1, 2015

  • Spring session (January 15 through April 15):
  • Applications must be submitted by November 1, 2015

  • Summer session (May 15 through August 15):
  • Applications must be submitted by March 1, 2016

To Apply

Go to https://solaa.si.edu to create an account in the Smithsonian On-Line Academic Appointment System. Go to Internship Opportunities section and submit application materials to the National Zoological Park Internship Program. When completing the application, select the project "Rock Creek – Bird House Exhibit Project."

IMPORTANT: Your application is considered complete when you hit "Submit." Your SOLAA submitted application with references must be received by the deadlines as noted above.

For additional information

Questions about this internship should be directed to Sara Hallager.