Department of Biological Sciences

Biology Internships

In the Department of Biological Sciences, you can earn credit and at the same time get real job experience doing an internship!

An internship will give you the opportunity to enhance your skills and make you more competitive for the job market. Internship experiences in Biology can include working with a professional in a career track; working with a state, federal, or private agency; working with people in the area of health professions; working with biology educators; or working with industry.

As a student, you need to make the contact or apply for an internship with the individual, agency, or company with whom you wish to do the internship. You may arrange your own schedule with a supervisor, and you are responsible for completing the work agreed upon.

In Biology, there are many paid internship opportunities funded by NSF, the Department of Energy, and many federal agencies. To learn more about these internships, (click here).

Sarah Wilcer with group of campers and the pinatas they created. (Credit: Lyman Woods blog)


We offer an undergraduate and graduate internship course:

BIOL 495 Internship in Biology: This is a practical experience in the biological sciences to help students with career development. You need a minimum of 40 contact hours per credit hour and also need to write a report at the end of your experience. A maximum of 3 s.h. can be applied to your major or minor.

Detailed description for Biology Internships (BIOL 495)

BIOL 595 Graduate Internship: This is a practical experience in the biological sciences with an approved employer or faculty research mentor. You need a minimum of 60 contact hours per credit hour and also need to write a final report. A maximum of 3 s.h. can be applied to your degree.

Detailed description for Biology Internships (BIOL 595)

Examples of Internship Opportunities

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Department of Energy

National Science Foundation Funded Internships- REUs


US Army Corps of Engineers

Success Stories

Sarah Wilcer, Biology Undergraduate Student, Holding a Giant African Millipede while giving a talk about decomposers.

swe"I was the Environmental Education and Outdoor Recreation Intern at Lyman Woods (Downers Grove, IL) in the summer of 2013. I was selected for this internship based on my experiences at WIU, namely because of my background in biology and my involvement with the Zoology Club. As an intern, I cared for the nature center’s education animals, assisted the center’s beekeeper with hive maintenance and honey harvesting, and presented nature programs for children ages 4-14. After interning, I was offered a position teaching wildlife and nature programs and I now work there during university breaks. I love what I’m doing and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support I have received from the Biology Department at WIU." Sarah Wilcer, Biology, Undergraduate Student Experience.

Jennifer Schahl, Biology Student at the Scovill Zoo Internship taking the temperatures of the giraffes with an infrared laser temperature gun.

js"I did my bachelor's in biology, post-bacc certificate in zoo and aquarium studies, and a master's in biology at WIU. The summer after my sophomore year I did an internship. I was a seasonal zookeeper at Scovill Zoo in Decatur, IL. It was that internship that solidified for sure what I wanted to do for a career. It was very helpful because then I could focus in my goal and work toward it. People think all there is to being a zookeeper is picking up poop and throwing the animals some food. The internship taught me there is a lot more to it and a lot of it that is actually very scientific. It is for that reason I decided to do the post-bacc certificate. I thought the more education I have the better. It also gave me time to volunteer at another zoo in Illinois-the Peoria Zoo. I started doing my research at the zoo, then volunteering, then I got a part-time zookeeper job, then a full-time job! So my research led me to a job. The zoo field is very hard to get into and usually you have to know someone and put in a lot more hours volunteering/being an intern at many different places before landing your first job." Jennifer Schahl, WIU Biology grad student.