Think ahead to college internships: Florida Aquarium

Annmarie Fearing, now a junior at the University of Florida, did a variety of jobs during her internship at the Florida Aquarium. She also learned a few things about sea horse “divas.”

Courtesy of Annmarie Fearing

Annmarie Fearing, now a junior at the University of Florida, did a variety of jobs during her internship at the Florida Aquarium. She also learned a few things about sea horse “divas.”

Distract yourself from college applications by reading how one college student found a great summer internship. In the coming weeks, we'll run more internship profiles.

Annmarie Fearing, Gainesville

University of Florida junior

Major: zoology

Internship title: husbandry intern on the reef/quarantine team at the Florida Aquarium

How did you hear about the opportunity? I found this internship by accident while looking online, a week before the application was due. I did not think they would still be looking for people, but I emailed them and they said they still had positions open so I figured it couldn't hurt to apply. I definitely think it was my confidence and passion in my cover letter that really snagged me the internship. After they reviewed the applications, I got a call from one of the curators who asked me some pretty simple questions such as when I could start.

What's your advice for interviews? Sound friendly and confident on the phone. If you sound like a nice and easygoing person then I think you are more likely to get a job because those are the characteristics employers are looking for in a team player.

What were your duties? I did so many things around the aquarium! Every week I would feed either the stingrays or Flip, the green sea turtle in the giant reef tank in the aquarium, which was so awesome to be able to get that close to a green sea turtle. I would also help feed the stingray touch tank each week which was so fun! Most of my days were spent taking care of "fish holding," which is where all the sick and new fish are kept. I worked with a senior biologist, Cristy Barrett, who made the internship so much fun.

What wouldn't outsiders know about working there? How much work goes into taking care of fish, especially sea horses. They are the most sensitive animals, which makes them such divas. For example, sea horses have a magical quality that makes people so enthralled with them but they were some of the neediest animals at the aquarium. They have to be fed three times a day while most of the other fish I worked with were fed only once. Some of the sea horses will only eat live food instead of frozen like the other fish. When taking care of them you do sometimes feel like you're working for a celebrity.

What did you learn working there? One thing I did not realize was such a huge deal was the upkeep of water quality in a fish tank. I thought fish did not really mind dirtier water, but that's actually the one thing that can cause a lot of problems with a fish. So you need to make sure to keep uneaten food out of a fish tank, siphon out all the waste that builds up (daily) and do water changes every couple of days to make sure your fish stay healthy.

Favorite intern memory/moment? The first time I fed Flip … because I had never seen a sea turtle so close before.

What advice would you share now that you've completed this internship? Have a positive attitude in anything you do. A positive attitude will make people want to be around you, and can make any situation better, even cleaning out a dirty fish tank.

Kelly Price is a UF junior and a former student editor of tb-two*.

Think ahead to college internships: Florida Aquarium 10/15/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 2:30pm]

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