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 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.

Duties and Responsibilities

Involvement may include:

  • Researching and compiling 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.

The internship will progress under the mentorship of the Bird House curator, although assignments will generate from the Bird House, Office of Exhibits, and Office of Planning and Strategic Initiatives. Interns will have an opportunity to split their time among the three departments as needed.

Through this offering, the intern will:

  • Understand the roles and processes during the development of a complex zoo exhibit
  • Work in an exhibits office in a zoo environment
  • Learn the team approach process to project management
  • Gain skills in writing for informal science audiences
  • Gain experience working within an interdisciplinary team (e.g., including designer, curator, educator)
  • Experience how diverse or opposing ideas are negotiated to a positive result


  • 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

Term of Appointment/Application Deadlines

The intern will work under the supervision of the Bird House curator, although assignments will generate from the Bird House, Office of Exhibits and Office of Planning and Strategic Initiatives. There are three internship sessions during the year: spring, summer, and fall. Interns will work 25 to 40 hours a week, splitting their time among the three departments as needed.

To make the most of this opportunity, first priority will be given to applicants who can intern the equivalent of at least three days a week.

  • Spring session: January 15 through April 15. Applications must be submitted by November 1.
  • Summer session: May 15 through August 15. Applications must be submitted by March 1.
  • Fall session: September 15 through December 15. Applications must be submitted by July 1.


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 is limited parking at SCBI in Front Royal, Virginia.

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.”

Your application is considered complete when you hit “Submit” and when your references have been received (your SOLAA submitted application and references must be received by the deadline as noted above).

Information that will be requested (in SOLAA) includes:

  • Basic personal information
  • Resume or CV summarizing education (including current academic status) and employment experience.
  • A one-page statement of your interest in pursuing this position. The statement should mention relevant experience, career goals, your reasons for wanting this internship, and what you hope to gain from the experience. Your statement is very important during application evaluations.
  • Transcripts from your current and/or previous institutions. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable.
  • Two letters of reference, including at least one academic reference.
  • Schedule of availability.

For additional information

Questions about this internship should be directed to Eric Slovak, or general internship questions to Athena Mylonas.