Internship Spotlight: New England Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation

Cassandra Cerasia, an RWU senior majoring in Marine Biology, Aquaculture & Aquarium Science, and Chemistry, and Hannah Franklin, a senior at RWU majoring in Marine Biology, recently completed an internship in Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation with the New England Aquarium. Cassandra & Hannah both worked with the CCPD during their application process and we caught up with them after the internship to hear how it went – read on to learn more!

Why were you initially interested in this internship?

CC: I was interested in this internship as it was a chance to gain hands-on experience in the field of marine biology and make a direct difference in sea turtles’ lives. Working with sea turtles and gaining husbandry and clinical experience on an animal I had never worked with before sounded like a fantastic opportunity for me to develop new skills. I am not exactly sure what I want to pursue in my career yet, so this internship was also an excellent opportunity to gain exposure to the field of rescue and rehabilitation.

HF: Anything marine biology related has interested me for as long as I can remember! Working with sea turtles was something I knew I always wanted to do, and this internship seemed like the perfect chance to do that. I was hoping that this opportunity would help me narrow down what I would like to do in the future, as I seem to love it all. I am definitely considering following more of the medical/clinical approach to marine biology, which was something I didn’t know I would enjoy as much as I did before this experience.

How did you find your internship?

HF: I found information about the internship program on the New England Aquarium website and applied through the site.

CC: I found my internship through a mutual connection. She then connected me with the supervisor who further explained the internship to me. It seemed like the perfect opportunity, so I sent my application in.

CCPD Note: The strategies Hannah and Cassandra used to find their internships are called targeted search and networking. Learn more about internship search strategies on the CCPD Search Strategies Checklist and make an appointment with your advisor for more information!

What did you do in this internship?

CC: My main role was to perform sea turtle husbandry tasks, which included food preparation, feeding, behavioral observations, and keeping the tanks clean. I also got to assist in the clinic by taking sea turtle heart rates and holding sea turtles for procedures such as exams, bloodwork, ultrasounds, injections, and intubations. Getting hands-on experience in the clinic was for sure my favorite part. I also observed procedures such as bronchoscopy and necropsies on loggerhead and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles.

HF: I got to do, see, and be a part of, the coolest things! There was lots of cleaning and lots of feeding, but I was able to watch things like necropsies, the intake process of new turtles, and clinical practices.

Has this internship helped you work toward your future career goals?

HF: Yes! I had no idea I liked the clinical aspect of animal husbandry until this internship. Being able to take heart rates and be a part of vet exams was truly eye-opening for me since I was not exposed to that type of work until this internship.

CC: This internship definitely helped me towards my future goals. I am not exactly sure what I hope to pursue within the field of marine biology for my career, so getting exposure to the field of rescue and rehabilitation was an excellent way to see the possible careers out there. Research is something that has always interested me as well, and through my internship, I was able to connect with a sea turtle researcher and ask her questions about her career.

What was your biggest takeaway from the internship?

CC: My biggest takeaway was learning how a rescue and rehabilitation facility operates. I had never worked in a facility like this, so it was a very eye-opening experience. Learning all the procedures and daily routines of the facility is knowledge I can likely apply to future positions. I also learned a lot about sea turtle anatomy and physiology through clinical experience and necropsies.

HF: The biggest lesson I learned was that while marine biology can be competitive to get into, with hard work and dedication, it’s possible to accomplish anything in this field.

What advice would you give to someone interested in a similar internship opportunity?

HF: Having passion about something will take you far, and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!

CC: I would say to go for it, even if you don’t see yourself specializing in sea turtles or rescue & rehabilitation someday. It was such an amazing experience to work with such incredible animals, and playing a large part in their rehabilitation is an incredibly rewarding experience.

Congratulations Cassandra and Hannah on an awesome internship experience! We are proud to have you representing RWU in the workforce!

Ready to start your own internship or job search? Make an appointment with a Career Advisor today!

Got a cool internship story you’d like to share? Fill out this form to be featured in a future internship spotlight!

By Molly Williams
Molly Williams Career Advisor