BEVERLY, Mass. – Endicott College is a pioneer in requiring comprehensive internship experiences in every program of study for undergraduate students. Here's a look into softball student-athlete and biology and biotechnology major Adrianna Favreau's (Tewksbury, Mass.) internship experience with the New England Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (NEWC).
ECGULLS: Describe your overall internship experience
My internship this past summer at the New England Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (NEWC) in South Weymouth, Mass. was an experience of a lifetime and one I will never forget. I got to work with animals that I never would have imagined I would be helping. The range of animals we treated at the center is so wide that every day I went into work, I didn't know what to expect for the day and that made the experience that much more interesting. The animals we treated spanned from baby common house sparrow birds, full-grown red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, snapping turtles, TONS of baby raccoons, and even seagulls. I have gotten the opportunity to sit in on major surgeries for some of the animals at the clinic and get a look into the exotic pet veterinary side as well at the hospital. All of the other interns and staff members at the clinic were all welcoming and willing to teach me as well as help me throughout my time there. I have made some friends at the New England Wildlife Center that I will remain in contact with when my internship is over. I feel like I gained so much knowledge and so many more medical skills at this internship that I can take with me going forward. I will cherish the time spent at NEWC forever as it made my summer both interesting and a ton of fun and it has been an unforgettable learning experience for me.
ECGULLS: What have you learned from your internship? (let me know what kind of projects you have worked on, etc.)
Because we treated such a large range of animals, I have gotten to learn not only the different anatomy and physiology of each species we encounter but also how each one is treated differently. More specifically, I learned which medications some animals can take where for others it is extremely toxic and unsafe and wherein and on the body drugs and medications are administered because of how their body system is set up. I also learned the purpose of a lot of different medications and what each is used for in animal medicine. The most important thing I learned is how to handle each species correctly whether it be using gauntlet gloves with the large birds of prey because of how dangerous their talons could be, or how to properly pick up snapping turtles as to make sure you are not hurting them. Each kind of animal we come into contact with has its own specifics to it and their own temperament and knowing how to handle and interact with these animals is extremely important in not only our safety but also the animals as well. Some animals are more aggressive because they are vulnerable, afraid, and well WILD animals. I feel very confident now when I go to handle any animal at the clinic and I do not feel unsure of myself or unsafe when handling more dangerous animals.
Aside from safety, I learned a lot about teamwork and interpersonal connections working with a large group of individuals that I did this summer. Being one of the 30+ interns at the center, I have learned the importance and advantage of working as a team. We all work together and help each other out with our tasks each day to ensure everyone is on schedule and to make sure we can get out on time if not a little early for the day. I've learned how to communicate better in the medical field whether it be between myself and veterinarians, vet techs, or even other interns. Communication played a huge role this summer, especially when making sure the hospital stayed efficient and all tasks for the day got done both properly and in a timely manner. Because we care for many animals, the most important thing to keep up to date and on top of is their feeding schedule as well as making sure medications are given, because it is a vital necessity for the animals' rehabilitation and overall survival.
ECGULLS: How will this internship help you in your career moving forward? (think about how this sets you apart from others)
This internship has given me an advantage for my future career goals of becoming a veterinarian because it has given me a more diverse background and knowledge in the veterinary field because I was working with wild animals and more species than what the average veterinarian would come into contact with. Last summer for my first internship I worked at a small local animal hospital that treated and cared for people's cats and dogs, and as that was also a great experience for me, working at the New England Wildlife Center has broadened my knowledge to things I never would have thought of. This sets me apart from others because I now have all of this knowledge of wild animal anatomy and treatment that they would not get doing average veterinary medicine work. I have been able to branch out and expand my horizons in the medical field giving me a taste of another different pathway I could potentially take in the future. Also, handling more "dangerous" (if you will) animals has really stressed the importance of safety to me as I am more cautious around say a Red-Tailed Hawk than I would be with someone's pet Golden Retriever. Safety is a huge part of the medical field and I think I have entailed such high levels of safety at the center that I will always be cautious and attentive in my work. In addition, at the center, a lot of responsibility and freedom are given to the interns due to the abundance of tasks that need to be completed with limited staff members and resources, so every step we take at the hospital cannot be overseen by a staff member. The staff will teach you how to complete certain tasks with their supervision until they are confident that you know what you are doing, but after that, you become more independent. I am able to calculate medication dosages, feed all kinds of animals and administer oral medication without needing to search for someone to come do it for me. Any injectable medications or treatments have to be done or supervised by a technician, but they still allow for interns to obtain the hands-on experience of administering them, so we can learn more techniques, which is going to help me going forward. All of the hands-on experience I have been able to obtain at my internship will help me tremendously going forward in my career because when and if I get to vet school, I will already know how to do some techniques and procedures some of my classmates might not have and that is all due to the teaching and hands-on I received from the NEWC.
ECGULLS: What kind of networking have you done at your internship?
The New England Wildlife Center is a non-profit, government-affiliated facility, which means we have limited funding, so a lot of volunteer work and unpaid interns keep the center running and make sure all of the animals we take in to get treated. There are a handful of veterinary techs that work at the center, most that got their jobs working here from being an intern in prior years. There are more than 30 interns that work at the center, mostly all in college and all aspiring veterinarians of some sort. Everyone that interns here range in age, where they come from, and where they go to school. I have created friendships with these students who are in a similar situation as me and are all trying to get accepted to vet school in the years to come. Making friendships with all of them have given me a huge network of people I can relate to and even some that are older than me and have already begun the application process that has been able to give me helpful advice on what to do going forward. I have also heard about their prior internships and have been given recommendations on places that I could reach out to in the future. As for the vet techs at the center, most are young and previous interns at the center, so they provide advice on the center itself because they have been here before and know how things are run. Also, there are a handful of them that are starting vet school in the fall and have also given me tons of advice on the best schools to apply to, the application process itself, and what to expect during it. The greatest connection I made at my internship was the relationships with the veterinarians. My supervisor is the head veterinarian at the NEWC and has connections all around the country. He attended vet school in the UK, is a paramedic, and has served in the army as well as a veterinarian so he has connections all throughout the medical field and throughout the country. I have created a good relationship with him and have gotten to work directly with him, so having him as a resource for my future endeavors is extremely helpful. He and the other staff members have even stated that they will be here for any questions or anything in the future after we leave the center from our internship and has even stated he would write recommendation letters for the interns in the future as well.
ECGULLS: Do you have a favorite experience or story from your internship? If so, what was it?
As I mentioned before, we care for many animals at the clinic, but my favorite "ward" to be in would either have to be raccoons or the medical ward. The raccoons have become my favorite animals at the clinic, so whenever I get to work with them all day I enjoy it. They are adorable which is a plus, but I think they are very interesting animals because of how curious and intelligent they are. In the medical ward, we handle all of those patients that had daily medications or injuries that need to be monitored. This is usually where any of our raptors are and I enjoy handle them because they are interesting birds.
There is a running joke at the hospital between all of the interns of who got bit by which kind of animal today. On my first week at the hospital, I was already a little nervous and unsure of what I was supposed to be doing yet because I was so new and my first 3 days in a row I ended up getting bit by some animal. I remember thinking that it was going to be a long summer if I was already getting bitten by things this often and early, but I was reassured later on to find out I was not alone and that it happens a lot more often than one would think, but it isn't that big of a deal. It is almost better to see animals trying to defend themselves against us because it shows us that they still have their survival skills for when they are released back into the wild. The funniest thing about all of this was I have been bitten by chipmunks a few times, some large owls, a goose, and some seagulls and out of all of those, the chipmunk bite was the most painful.
Some of my other memorable times at the clinic involve the raccoons. We have an outdoor enclosure we use for the raccoons when they reach a certain weight and become vaccinated where they will remain until they are old enough to be released into the wild on their own. As the summer goes on, more and more raccoons get moved outside and it starts to get really packed. There are currently 33 raccoons outside in this enclosure and they all know the everyday routine of when interns enter they usually are bringing food. Another intern and I were walking in the door and I opened the door and when I looked up, all of the raccoons were sitting at the door all looking at me and immediately started to walk over to us because they knew we had the food. Sometimes they will even try to climb up your leg, and some of them are even just interested with your shoelace and will start playing with your foot. They are very entertaining animals because they are so curious and want to touch EVERYTHING. I can't even tell you the number of times I would be cleaning a cage and all of a sudden, I feel raccoon hands pulling my hair from up above or I'm doing something else near a cage and there are raccoon hands in my pockets stealing whatever they could find in there. It's also a running joke in the hospital that it looks like the raccoons are in jail when they are in their cages because they are always cooing and making their loud noises and all we see are arms sticking out of the cage. It is a riot to see millions of hands just reaching out of the cage hoping to grab something.
Each day at the hospital I make another memory that I will always keep with me and there was never been a day at my internship that I was not enjoying myself or wanted to be anywhere else. I have loved my internship experience at the NEWC and have learned more than I could've imagined before I started. The time flew by here as it feels like I started just a couple weeks ago, but I am so sad it will be completely over in a few weeks. I have made tons of friends and have learned so much that I will cherish my experience forever. Maybe one day I will find my way back to the hospital.
THE ENDICOTT INTERNSHIP MODEL
A philosophy of "learning by doing" permeates the college curriculum in which students are encouraged to integrate theory and practice in all of their studies.
Through their experiences in internships students will be prepared to:
- Apply, integrate, and evaluate knowledge within a particular academic discipline
- Develop competencies for careers and community service
- Explore career options and gain field experience
- Foster personal growth through increased self-confidence, interpersonal skills, an understanding of self and others, and a heightened awareness of ethical standards
- Improve the ability to learn in a self-directed manner
(Photo Credit - Adrianna Favreau '21)