Every summer, the Duke Lemur Center brings 25 interns to learn and work across all departments. Animal care, enrichment, research, fossil primates, development and education interns spend 10 weeks gaining firsthand experience in care, management and engagement. Here, education intern Ashley Juliana shares some of her experience.
July 30, 2015 — Back in January of this year, I was in my second semester of sophomore/junior year at Lees-McRae College. I had no idea what I was going to do with my summer. I needed a job but I wanted some real-world experience in my field of Wildlife Biology. I was sitting in a career and life-planning class when I heard my professor say “If you have not participated in an internship by now, jobs when you get out of college might be hard to come by.” That was the first time I had even thought about doing an internship. Finding a job right out of college was going to be harder than I thought and I needed as much help as I could get, and so my search for an internship began.
After a few weeks of searching, I stumbled upon the Duke Lemur Center website and immediately checked to see if they accepted interns. I was extremely excited to see that they did indeed offer internships and doubly excited to see that I could focus my internship in one of my new-found passions, education. I quickly applied in hopes that I would be accepted.
Fast-forward a couple months later, I was sitting in orientation second-guessing my ability to actually complete this internship. Could I, possibly the most introverted person I know, really be one of the spokespersons for a large reputable organization like the Duke Lemur Center? When did I ever enjoy talking to people I didn’t know? How could I ever return phone calls to people wanting to visit? To this day, I still don’t know the answers to these questions, but here I am, 8 weeks into my internship, more comfortable than I have ever been in accomplishing these tasks.
Not only was I asked to be an education intern though, I was also asked to play a role in the development department. This department consisted of three parts: fundraising, marketing, and community relations. These again were three things that I did have some experience in but wasn’t totally comfortable with doing. While Janice Kalin, the development coordinator, was out of town, it was my job to be her. I was tasked with making reservations for a major event, Lemurpalooza 2015, and with putting together adoption packages for the Adopt-a-Lemur program on top of leading daily tours and answering phones.
At some points of my internship, I felt as though I was the rope in a tug-of-war match between the education department and the development department. At other times, I felt like I would have been out of the loop without the knowledge of one or the other departments. With having experience in both divisions, I had the ability to communicate with tour guests about the Adopt-a-Lemur program in great detail as well as relay information about our tours to people who had only heard about our facility from Lemurpalooza 2015 advertising.
All of this being said, I could not have asked for a better shove out of my introverted shell than the opportunity to have been an intern at the Duke Lemur Center. I have greatly improved my communication with people I might not be familiar with. I have also learned new interpretation skills as well as improved the skills that I came in with. I have a better understanding of prosimians, and I now feel a lot more prepared to take on a career of wildlife education after college than I did before this internship. I would like to thank everyone who guided me to be my best throughout this summer and everyone who gave me this amazing opportunity to teach the public about the incredible animals and island that we are working so hard to protect.
Ashley Juliana is a Wildlife Biology student at Lees-McRae College and summer education and development intern at the Lemur Center. She will graduate a year early and would like to to work in conservation education and research.