Alexia Gianoulis '21

An Unpaid Internship Pays Off
UNH biomedical science major Alexia Gianoulis '21

Alexia Gianoulis’s love of wildlife and exotic animals began with her childhood pets, a hedgehog and gecko, and led to a recent summer internship at the New England Wildlife Center in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. The experience, which was made possible thanks to a stipend from COLSA's SOAR Fund, has brought her one step closer to making her dream of becoming a veterinarian a reality.

COLSA: Tell us about your internship.

Alexia Gianoulis: This summer I was an intern for the New England Wildlife Center in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. As interns we are challenged with the medical care and daily husbandry of 900-2000 wildlife patients and exotic patients.

Common responsibilities constantly varied and included carrying out blood draws, gavage feeding avian and mammalian patients, performing injections of medications, monitoring animals under anesthesia, giving physical exams, calculating medical dosages, assisting in radiographs and laboratory tests, followed by much more.

COLSA: What attracted you to the position? Why did you want the internship?

Alexia: Growing up, I was always intrigued by wildlife and exotics. My first pets included a hedgehog named Wilfork and a leopard gecko named Fred. As a result, I became fascinated with the possibility of working with these animals exclusively. During the internship some species I got to interact with included songbirds, birds of prey, raccoons, foxes, cottontails, chipmunks, turtles, snakes, waterfowl, skunks, opossums — the list goes on.

COLSA: Looking back on what you accomplished as an intern, what are you most proud of?

Alexia: Looking back on the internship, I am most proud of the knowledge I gained through my exposure to so many different species. In the animal world, there are many species-specific procedures that must be considered when handling and treating patients.

UNH biomedical science major Alexia Gianoulis '21 holds an ailing raptor

Alexia, left, holds an ailing raptor during a feeding. Photo courtesy of Alexia Gianoulis

COLSA: What was the most valuable thing you learned?

Alexia: The most valuable thing I learned throughout my internship was how to start thinking like a veterinarian. As a pre-vet student, I have had a few varied animal experiences but none of them gave me the opportunity to be treated as if I was making the medical decisions when it came to an animal’s care.

The veterinarians and technicians at the New England Wildlife Center viewed us as a valuable part of the healthcare team and encouraged us to help perform physical exams and develop basic treatment plans. Every day we also had "rounds" which allowed us to be included in the process of asking questions regarding patients.

COLSA: In what way(s) has this experience impacted you?

Alexia: This internship allowed me to interact with not only animals but veterinarians and technicians who constantly pushed us to gain the most out of our time. Because of this experience, I am more confident in my clinical skills and ability to understand how to treat and diagnose a wide range of species that I had not been familiar with before the internship.

COLSA: Did you receive any awards or grants that made this internship possible?

Alexia: I received the SOAR fund award for this internship.

COLSA: Any advice for students looking for an internship?

Alexia: Go out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to look at internships that are unpaid. There are many opportunities through universities like UNH that offer grants, awards or even credits that can make the internship of your dreams a reality.

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