Lydia Rheinhardt '24

A summer internship working with wild animals
UNH student Lydia Rheinhardt

Wildlife and conservation biology major Lydia Rheinhardt ’24 was looking for an opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with wild animals. A summer internship at the Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, Massachusetts has been the perfect fit, giving her the opportunity to both grow her skillset and make new connections.

Lydia was able to accept the unpaid internship thanks to a stipend from COLSA’s SOAR Fund. The fund supports undergraduate students by providing stipends that may be used to supplement unpaid internships or pay for transportation to interviews and career events. The SOAR Fund accepts applications year-round. While all COLSA students are invited to apply, applicants with financial need are strongly encouraged.

COLSA: Tell us about your internship.

Lydia Rheinhardt: I am interning at the Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, Mass. I feed and clean the enclosures of various wildlife, including but not limited to raccoons, possums, bunnies, foxes, skunks, various bird species and turtle species. In addition to feeding, I also assist in administering medications via syringe and get to observe new admits and surgeries.

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

Lydia: I was attracted to this internship because I want to work hands on with wild animals, and this was a good position that allowed me to work directly with animals that I have not seen up close. It was also only 30 minutes from my house, so it was logistically a good choice. I am interested in exploring possible career paths and building my resume.

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

Lydia: I am most proud of being able to balance everything in my day. I was able to work at my internship and make time to exercise, spend time with my family, hang out with my friends and work another job. Although I was often very tired, I was successful at making time for everything.

COLSA: What was the most valuable thing you learned?

Lydia: I learned how to understand the body language of different types of wild animals. By learning about and observing the normal behavior of lots of different wildlife, I became familiar with what a healthy animal should look like. This is very valuable because it helped me to better asses what was wrong with an animal based on their abnormal behavior.

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

Lydia: This experience has helped me to better understand what kind of job I want to have in the
future. Although it was fun internship and I gained lots of important skills, knowledge and connections, I also concluded that I am interested in working in the field, rather than in a clinic. This internship helped me figure out what I want to try next!

COLSA: Any advice for students looking for an internship?

Lydia: Finding an internship that is exactly what you want to do in the future is very difficult, especially if
you don't know what that is yet. It is okay to try new things because at the very least you gain experience and a better understanding of what it is that you want to do.

COLSA: Tell us something you love about UNH.

Lydia: I love UNH because it is so easy to make friends and build connections. Each class, dining hall and walk through campus is an opportunity to see someone you already know. Being able to see the same person in various settings makes it nearly impossible to not make friends!