Internships at the Center for Conservation Innovation
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 manuscripts, white papers and blog articles, that directly contribute to conservation and career advancement (see Intern Alumni below for all 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.
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’ Internships page for available CCI internship positions. Most internship deadlines correspond to the following deadlines: December 15th for spring internships (start around February 1st); March 1st for summer internships (start around June 1st; and July 30th for fall internships (start around September 15th). 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 and may submit one or multiple applications based on your preference. If you apply for multiple positions, please mention that you have applied to multiple positions in all your cover letters so we can coordinate review of your applications.
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 Jennie Miller at email@example.com.
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.
Mae Lacey, 2018 Fall CCI GIS Intern (hired as CCI staff)
Conservation mapping service and support (report)
Manass Nukala, 2018 Fall CCI Innovation Intern in Geospatial Analysis and Conservation Tool Development
Analysis of deforestation over time on Prince of Wales Island in the Tongass National Forest (web app)
Chelsea Proctor, 2018 Fall CCI Innovation Intern in Geospatial Analysis and Conservation Tool Development
Mountain top removal impacts on water quality (story map)
Kelsey Blongewicz, 2018 Summer CCI Innovation Intern in Geospatial Analysis and Conservation Tool Development
Development of computer vision models (blog article)
Christine Chang, 2018 Summer CCI GIS Intern
Conservation mapping service and support
Adam Eichenwald, 2018 Summer CCI Innovation Intern in Geospatial Analysis and Conservation Tool Development
Comparison of habitat loss in ESA-listed species ranges on federal vs. private lands (scientific paper)
Cora Ottaviani, 2018 Summer CCI Innovation Intern in Policy and Species Conservation
Data collection on threats to ESA-listed species (blog article)
Cyrus Parvereshi, 2018 Summer CCI Innovation Intern in Policy and Species Conservation
Data collection on threats to ESA-listed species (blog article)
Kierra Stewart, 2018 Spring CCI Innovation Intern in Geospatial Analysis and Conservation Tool Development
Validation and refinement of automated change detection algorithms (blog article)
Kathryn Kay, 2017 Fall CCI Innovation Intern
Mountain top removal impacts on water quality
Tiffany Kim, 2016 Spring CCI Innovation Intern
Aerial imagery for monitoring compliance with the ESA (scientific paper)
Megan Evansen, 2015 Summer CCI Innovation Intern (hired as CCI staff)
Comparative analysis of ESA consultations on sea turtles by federal agencies (scientific paper)
Andrew Pericak, 2015 Spring CCI Innovation Intern
Conservation prioritization across the Southeastern U.S. (white paper)
Whitney Webber, 2015 Spring and Summer CCI Innovation Intern
Developing and testing a new method for tracking the conservation status of imperiled species (scientific paper)