WDC Intern on a whale sense whale watch looking through binoculars for whales
WDC Intern on a whale sense whale watch looking through binoculars for whales

WDC Interns

We've had some amazing students and recent graduates help out at our office in Plymouth, Massachusetts in the US. If you are thinking of applying for the internship, this page should give you some helpful information on the background of previous interns and where they've gone since their time with us ended.

How to apply for an internship

Name: Blanca Gonzalez
Year of Internship: 
Spring 2016
College/University & Major: 
Biology, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid
Cambridge, MA
Favorite Part of Internship: 
The first time that I saw a whale breaching. I don’t know why, I was so happy that I couldn’t stop laughing. Unfortunately, I was writing down the coordinates at that time and I couldn’t take a picture. I do love observing the whales with my eyes rather than through the camera, so, although I couldn’t take a photo, it was great being able to watch that whale jumping in the air like she didn’t weigh tons. 
Current Position: 
working for a pharmaceutical company and looking for a conservation job in the States
Advice for Potential Applicants: 
Rely on the other interns and WDC staff to help each other. Although you work individually most of the time, you will need the team to identify all the whales and to make your work easier. 

Name: Emma Vovk
Year of Internship: 
Summer 2016
College/University & Major: 
University of Edinburgh, BSc Hons in Ecological and Environmental Science
Favorite Part of Internship: 
Spending half my working week out on the water with whales wasn’t too shabby!
Current Position: 
Wherever the flow takes me.
Advice for Potential Applicants: 
Enjoy every moment (honestly).

Name: Alice Wilson McNeal
Year of Internship: 
Summer 2016
College/University & Major: 
University of Exeter, BSc Biological Sciences
Favorite Part of Internship: 
Getting out on boats to see whales so frequently, and talking to passengers who were as excited to see them as I was!
Current Position: 
Senior year, then hopefully travelling
Advice for Potential Applicants: 
It’s a big commitment as it’s very hard work with long hours, but the experiences are really rewarding. Knowing you’re helping to protect the whales you see makes it worth it.

Name: Gabbi Lopez
Year of Internship: 
Fall 2016
College/University & Major: 
Stony Brook University. B.S. Marine Vertebrate Biology
Norwalk, CT
Favorite Part of Internship: 
Being able to interact with passengers and teach them about whales. It is a good feeling to see people get excited about learning about whales, dolphins and the marine environment.
Current Position: 
Just looking out for the next adventure.
Advice for Potential Applicants: 
Do your best and don’t be afraid to ask questions or voice your concerns. You are a valuable asset to the team and everyone is willing to help you succeed. 

Name: Sabrina Braunlich
Year of Internship:
 Summer 2016
College/University & Major:
 University of Findlay, Pre-Veterinary Medicine/Animal Science & Biology
Favorite Part of Internship:
 All the amazing people you get to work with (the whales included)
Current Position:
 Finishing undergrad, then hopefully veterinary school!
Advice for Potential Applicants:
 While you may want to sleep the whole day on your day off, go out and explore Plymouth, surrounding cities, go and take little road trips! 

Name: Sarah Weiss
Year of Internship:
 Summer 2016
Residence: Essex Junction, Vermont
Current Position: 
Northeast Fisheries and Science Center- Sei whale acoustic research
Advice for Potential Applicants:
 Never take a Mola mola for granted

Name: Sabina Raskova
Year of Internship:
 Fall 2016
College/University & Major:
 University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Brno (Czech Republic)
 Czech Republic 
Favorite Part of Internship:
 Seeing whales and dolphins and sharks and mola mola! Every day on boat! Being around dedicated and inspiring people.
Current Position:
Advice for Potential Applicants:
 Enjoy every second with whales and never take them for granted. Appreciate all kind of education that you experience with WDC.

Name: Reese Gruninger
Year of Internship: Fall 2015
College/University & Major: Bowling Green State University, Major- Biology, concentration in Marine Biology and Ecology
Residence: Chesterfield Michigan
Favorite Part of Internship: Watching whales of course!
Current Position: Hopefully Graduate school to focus on coastal restoration
Advice for Potential Applicants: Don’t ever take boat days for granted! It’s easy when the weather is crappy and you’re tired, to not want to go on the boat. It is easy to forget how amazing of an opportunity it truly is to spend your days watching whales. You WILL miss boat days after spending weeks in the office. 

Name: Danielle Kurkjian
Year of Internship: Fall 2015
College/University & Major:  Boston University, Major- Marine Science, Minor- Business Administration and Management
Residence: Oakmont, PA
Favorite Part of Internship: Since my major did not focus on the animals within the oceas I absolutely loved learning about the whales and their mannerisms as well as getting attached to some of the individuals with their calves.
Current Position: Accountant for Steel City Rowing Club and Owner/Operator of Danielle's Puppy Love Walking
Advice for Potential Applicants: Make the most of your internship.  Try to get involved with as many things as possible so you can have experiences outside of the data. Don't be afraid to talk to the staff, especially Regina! 

Name: Laine McCall
Year of Internship: Summer-Fall 2015
College/University & Major: University of Missouri, BS in Biological Sciences
Residence: St. Louis, MO
Favorite Part of Internship: My favorite part was getting to spend so much time watching the whales. It is really exciting when you can recognize the individual whales in the field.
Current Position: TBD
Advice for Potential Applicants: This is a really interesting and fun internship. You’ll learn a lot and get to work with some really nice people!

Name: Erin Pennell
Year of Internship: Spring 2015
College/University & Major: University of Delaware/ Marine Biology
Residence: Uxbridge, MA
Favorite Part of Internship: Seeing mother and calf pairs and dolphins
Current Position: Doggie daycare attendant/volunteer with New England Aquarium
Advice for Potential Applicants: Treasure every time you’re out on the boat seeing these endangered whales because when the internship is done you’re going to miss seeing these whales almost on a daily basis along with the many other species you see out on the water.

Name: Danica Warns
Year of Internship: Summer 2015
College/University & Major: Stony Brook University, M.A. in Marine Conservation and Policy
Residence: New York
Favorite Part of Internship: getting to observe and photograph whales
Current Position:  Urban Wetlands Community Engagement AmeriCorps Member at New York City Parks
Advice for Potential Applicants: Make the most of your time here, experience everything you want to and make long-lasting connections with the staff and other interns.

Name: Megan Howes
Year of Internship: Fall 2015
College/University & Major: McGill University. School of Environment. Domain: Biodiversity & Conservation
Residence: Maine
Favorite Part of Internship: my project working on a critical habitat campaign
Current Position: Grad school TBD
Advice for Potential Applicants:  Being able to spend so much time on the water with whales and educating people about them is an incredible opportunity. There are some long days but overall it's a very rewarding experience. Passengers on the boat often comment on what a great job we have and it’s true, so just keep in mind what a privilege it is to be able to do this every day.

Name: Jeremy Belknap
Year of Internship: Summer 2015
College/University & Major: University of Vermont, BS in Environmental Sciences
Residence: Connecticut
Favorite Part of Internship:  Every day spent on a boat.
Current Position: Fisheries Observer with Northeast Fisheries Observer Program

Advice for Potential Applicants: Work equally as hard on the boat as you do in the office because the skills you will learn in each will help you immensely down the road.

Name: Alex Bickers
Year of Internship: Summer 2015
College/University & Major: Penn State University, Major: Wildlife and Fisheries Science
Residence: Murrysville, PA
Favorite Part of Internship: Getting to know many of the whales by name and getting to see them feed, breach, and approach the boat very closely.
Current Position: Graduating in a year, hopefully going to graduate school or finding another wildlife position.
Advice for Potential Applicants: Don’t be too overwhelmed by the huge amount of information you receive in the first week- most of it becomes common knowledge very quickly and everyone catches on.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to ask for help, either.  It is much better to ask questions at the beginning than to end up doing something wrong later.

Name: Sarah Zollner
Year of Internship: Fall 2014
College/University & Major: Boston University- marine science with minors in earth science and biology
Residence: New Jersey
Favorite Part of Internship: Seeing the whales and telling the tourists about the whales
Current Position: volunteering at an animal shelter while working on graduate school applications
Advice for Potential Applicants: Be prepared for long boat days and long office days, especially in the fall when it can be mostly office days. You’ll learn a lot about whales and about working in the non-profit conservation world, and it will be challenging but rewarding. Going out on the boat is great because you get to tell people about whales and then you get to see whales! Make sure you stay for the right whale conference because you’ll learn a lot!

Name Stephanie Wrobel
Year of Internship Summer-Fall 2014
College/University & Major James Cook University - Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology; Victoria University of Wellington - Master of Marine Conservation
Residence Germany
Favorite Part of Internship Getting to work with a lot of people from different backgrounds and getting to learn so much about the whales in the Gulf of Maine.
Current Position Volunteer with the Namibian Dolphin Project
Advice for Potential Applicants Know that there are some days that can be very very long and be prepared to put in some work to get the best experience out of it. It’s a lot of fun and there’s so much to learn.

Name Celeste Bollini
Year of Internship Summer-Fall 2014
College/University & Major National University of Mar del Plata, Argentina- Marine biology
Residence Sarasota, FL
Favorite Part of Internship Having the great opportunity to watch whales for over 3 months.
Current Position I am currently looking forward to participate in different projects related to environmental education.
Advice for Potential Applicants Be ready to work long hours in the office and in the boat. Have a full and real commitment. Being an intern is like being in the same rowboat for 3 months. We all should be rowing together in the same direction. It is going to be hard work and sometimes you will feel super tired (especially after all those 2 trips a day. It is like if your brain is sleeping even though your body is awake) but it is totally worth it, after all not everybody get this amazing opportunity to watch whales!!!

Name Sam Sanders
Year of Internship Summer 2014
College/University & Major University of Georgia, School of Forestry and Natural Resources- Fisheries and Wildlife with an emphasis in both Wildlife and Aquatics
Residence Georgia (current), North Carolina (hometown)
Favorite Part of Internship My favorite part about the internship was the everyday suspense of what you could possibly see on the water that day. From the basking sharks to 75+ whales in one day, it was always an exceptional day to be on the water. And of course, the pure charisma of each whale. One second they would be breaching and the next a calf would be rolling over to look at you!
Current Position  University of Florida's Levin College of Law- working toward Juris Doctor with a certificate in Environmental Law
Advice for Potential Applicants For future interns I would tell them to not get down on themselves if they do something wrong and to always keep a cool head. There may be days that are very stressful, rainy, or you may have a boat full of grumpy passengers and crew. But at the end of the day, just remember that this is an amazing opportunity!!

Name Emily Liebert
Year of Internship Summer 2014
College/University & Major University of Delaware-Marine Science with a concentration in marine bioscience
Residence Long Island, NY
Favorite Part of Internship Being able to go out on a trip on Easterly. We were able to get close to the whales and see them in a way that you would never be able to see them on a whale watching trip. We were able to see moms and their calves as well as seal and basking sharks. It was an experience I will never forget and probably will never get the chance to do again.
Current Position Graduate student at Stony Brook University in the Marine conservation and policy program.
Advice for Potential Applicants Don’t stress, ask questions, and enjoy every day!

Name Venus Fung
Year of Internship Spring-Summer 2014
College/University & Major Boston University - Marine Science major & Biology minor
Residence Santa Cruz, CA (currently); Cerritos, CA (hometown)
Favorite Part of Internship The best part about the internship was going on an all-day whale watch trip on the Easterly. I've never seen that many humpbacks in my life!
Current Position I'm currently working part time as a development associate at a conservation non-profit called Save Our Shores. I'm also a part time marketing associate at the Santa Cruz Warriors basketball team.
Advice for Potential Applicants It’s important to be detail-oriented and calm when recording data and sorting photos. It’s better to be accurate when it comes to entering information than to finish a job as quickly as possible. Also, it’s important to ask questions and raise concerns when you have them instead of waiting for an answer to be given to you. The best way to get the most out of the internship is to show that you’re interested and willing to learn more than what you are expected to.

Name Noelle Olsen
Year of Internship
 Fall 2013
College/University & Major
 B.A. Boston University; Major: Ecology & Conservation Biology, Minor: Marine Science
 Westover, MD (current) Redondo Beach, CA (hometown) 
Favorite Part of Internship
 Obviously, marine mammal and creature sightings are always amazing! I was lucky to be able to assist/watch a dolphin necropsy. I really enjoyed seeing the behind-the-scenes of a non-profit organization—something that you can’t learn in school!
Current Position
 M.S. student in Fisheries Science at University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Advice for Potential Applicants
 Make sure you let your passion and interests shine through! Take advantage of any and all opportunities! 

Name Leah Varga
Year of Internship Summer 2013
College/University & Major Connecticut College, Class of 2012, Biological Sciences
Residence San Diego, CA (current) Plymouth, MI (hometown)
Favorite Part of Internship Working on my individual project
Current Position Staff Research Associate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, CA
Advice for Potential Applicants Be patient, be optimistic, take advantage of every day, and enjoy!

Name Elizabeth Gooding
Year of Internship Summer 2013
College/University & Major University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Environmental Studies
Residence Charleston, SC
Favorite Part of Internship Identifying around 60 individual humpback whales on the Easterly trip
Current Position Biologist with South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Advice for Potential Applicants 1. You really get out what you put in. 2. Don't be afraid to ask questions. 3. Have fun with it! It's an awesome internship.

Name: Brittany Sapyta
Year of Internship: Summer, 2012
College/University & Major: College of Charleston, BS in Marine Biology
Residence: Summerville, SC, USA
Favorite Part of Internship: Studying and learning more about my favorite animal, and making a difference to its well being
Current Position: Applying to graduate schools to do further behavioral ecology research on marine vertebrates
Advice for Potential Applicants: Keep everything in perspective :)

Name: Michelle Collins
Year of Internship: Summer-Fall, 2012
College/University & Major: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Integrative Biology, Psychology
Residence: Plymouth, MA (current) Chicago, IL (hometown)
Favorite Part of Internship: Getting to talk to ALL different kinds of people on the whale watches and being around other whale nerds ALL the time!
Current Position: Employed with WDC as Program Assistant
Advice for Potential Applicants: Be respectful of other people’s pet peeves in the office.  And make sure you don’t get sea sick!

Name: Emily Moss
Year of Internship: 2012-2013
College/University & Major: University of North Carolina, Asheville, BS in Biology
Residence: Indiana (currently in Plymouth, Massachusetts), USA
Favorite Part of Internship: Being able to go out on the boat, see a humpback surface and know immediately who it was.  The people were pretty great, too :-)
Current Position: I am currently working remotely with WDC on campaign efforts and graphic design.  I am also working as a Fundraising Officer for a non-profit organization in San Diego, CA. Advice for Potential Applicants: This internship gives you the opportunity to gain experience and build skills in field research, public outreach and education as well as environmental policy. It requires a full commitment but is well worth the time and effort you put into it. 

Name: Lucie Drozd
Year of Internship: Fall, 2012
College/University & Major: Wellesley College, Biological Sciences
Residence: Seattle, WA (current) Chicago, IL (hometown), USA
Favorite Part of Internship: Meeting/working with the people of WDC as well as being out on the boats as much as possible!
Current Position: HR Operations Coordinator PATH (international non-profit organization)

Name: Kristen Schmicker
Year of Internship: Summer, 2012
College/University & Major: University of New Haven, Major- Marine Biology, Minor: Environmental Science
Residence: New Jersey, USA
Favorite Part of Internship: Learning to match a fluke pattern to a whale's name by memory and being out on the water multiple days a week
Current Position: Aquarist at Aboslutely Fish

Name: Jessica Simpson
Year of Internship: Spring, 2012
College/University & Major: University of Plymouth (UK), Conservation Biology Hons
Residence: Plymouth/London, UK
Favorite Part of Internship: Being able to individually identify humpbacks in the field, finding out that I could be good at something I didn’t think I was good at; presenting to and teaching elementary school children.
Current Position: obtaining Masters in Science Communication. Also received a content interpretation department placement at the Natural History Museum in London. 
Advice for Potential Applicants: The people are lovely, silly and fun. It can be challenging at times but it’s completely worth it. You should apply because it will make your year!

Name: Caitlin Karniski
Year of Internship: Spring, 2012
College/University & Major: Georgetown University, Biology major with a concentration in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
Residence: Washington DC (current) Tampa, FL , USA (hometown)
Favorite Part of Internship: The scar study project I worked on... And the people! It felt great to be surrounded by such passionate and positive people while working on a focused, analytical study of the effects of vessel strikes on humpback whales that could have profound real-world and policy implications. 
Current Position: PhD Student at Georgetown University

Name Skyler Suhrer
Year of Internship 2011
College/University & Major University of Montana, Wildlife Biology
Residence New Zealand (current) California, USA (hometown)
Favorite Part of Internship If I had to pick just one, I'd say going out on the boats. Getting to not only see the whales, but learning to recognize them on sight, learn their family history, their personal stories, was something truly special for me.
Current Position Working for New Zealand’s Department of Conservation
Advice for Potential Applicants It's an incredible experience! Be ready to work hard and possibly have some boat trips in the rain or other less-than-stellar conditions, but the memories, experiences, and people you meet are of the type that change your life.

Name:Lindsay Hirt
Year of Internship: 2011-2013

College/University & Major: University of Maine – Machias, B.A. Marine Biology, B.A. Pre-professional Biology
Residence: Plymouth, MA, USA
Favorite Part of Internship: There is no one thing! My time collecting data and interacting with people in the field allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation of what the organization is trying to protect, sharpened my observational eye, and honed my public speaking skills. Plus it has been a lot of fun! My time in the office gave me a better understanding of all the facets of a non-profit organization, brought depth to my science background, and gave me ideas for future research. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to continue to do work for WDC after my initial field season (spring/summer 2011) because I currently live in the area and really love to be involved in (or, in the know regarding) current projects. Beyond the scope of WDC's mission, I absolutely love the exposure of working with people of all different walks of life, on both local and international levels - including WDC employees, interns, and the public. I've made friends I'll always keep and memories I'll never forget.
Current Position: Veterinary technician; contractor working on various projects for different non-profit organizations 
Advice for Potential Applicants:Be prepared for any opportunity. And, bring sunscreen. And snacks.

Name Heidi Hansen
Year of Internship 2010-2013
College/University & Major Monterey Institute of International Studies, M.A. International Environmental Policy
Residence Boston, MA (current) Cedar Rapids, IA (hometown), USA
Favorite Part of Internship All of the amazing opportunities to work with some of the most dedicated people in the world on real conservation initiatives, and of course the incredible experiences out on the water. It really drives home that both field and policy work are essential to affecting change.
Current Position Naturalist at Boston Harbor Cruises and Staff Accountant at Rethink Robotics
Advice for Potential Applicants Anything and everything can and will happen at any given moment, so the most important thing that you can do is to be flexible and rise to meet every challenge. Never say no to any opportunity offered to you, because you never know where it might lead.

Name: Anja Reckendorf
Year of Internship: Spring, 2010
College/University & Major: Free University of Berlin, Veterinary Sciences
Residence: Berlin, Germany
Favorite Part of Internship: Being able to go out on the boats and see all these different and magnificent animals in their natural habitat was probably the greatest part of the internship. Being exposed to different aspects of marine mammal conservation, such as research, policy, public outreach and education was very valuable to me. I especially loved all the opportunities I was given to work in my special field of interest and all the efforts made to expand my internship experiences. To me, the most precious part is that WDC is a very friendly and family-like environment that resulted in lasting friendships with people from around the world and in Plymouth, which feels like a second home to me now.
Current Position: Vet Tech; WDC's Social Media Coordinator
Advice for Potential Applicants: Although going out on the water and meeting many new people is exciting and a lot of fun, being an intern is also a lot of work. You should be prepared to dedicate a lot of time and work hard to complete your assigned tasks thoroughly. Also being a part of the WDC family is like every other family, so be a responsible member and integrate yourself by helping to keep the office and your living quarters clean.

Name: Linda Rudin
Year of Internship: Summer, 2010
College/University & Major: University of Zurich, Master of Science in Biology/Behavioral Sciences, Biology (major), Environmental Sciences (minor)
Residence: Switzerland
Favorite Part of Internship: Friendliness of staff and other interns
Current Position:Naturalist with Elding Whale Watch in Reykjavik, Iceland

Name Kelly Kleister
Year of Internship 2009-2011
College/University & Major Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Bachelors of Science in Marine Safety and Environmental Protection with a concentration in Marine Biology
Residence Bourne, MA, USA
Favorite Part of Internship Well, you really can't beat being out on the water all day with some great people and getting to see these amazing creatures in their natural habitat. One of my favorite days, though, was definitely being out with Regina, Sue, and Linda on the Easterly and having Cajun's 2010 calf breaching and playing around right next to us.
Current Position Marine biologist at the Division of Marine Fisheries

Name: Sarah Mattingly
Year of Internship: 
College/University & Major: 
Gordon College, Biology with a Marine Concentration
Favorite Part of Internship: 
I loved being out on the boats, using a great camera to take great pictures.  The fact that doing so contributed to the greater research knowledge base already in progress at WDC was just icing on an already amazing cake!
Current Position: 
Currently I'm the yearbook advisor and Biology teacher for Laconia Christian Academy (a kindergarten through 12th grade prep school)
Advice for Potential Applicants: 
Be willing to be flexible, and try to know in advance if you get seas sick! ;)

Name Lindsey Albright
Year of Internship June-August, 2009
College/University & Major Undergrad: Boston University, Biology with a Specialization in Marine Sciences; Postgrad: University of Sydney, Environmental Science
Residence St. Paul, MN 
Favorite Part of Internship Getting out to see the whales every single day. Also, getting to know the whales and being able to recognize them myself without the help of the naturalist or the photo-ID catalog.
Current Position Water Resources Specialist with Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District

Name Erica Magnusson
Year of Internship 2009-2011
College/University & Major Eckerd College, Biology and Environmental Studies
Residence San Francisco, CA, USA
Favorite Part of Internship WDCS gave me the foundations to understand what it means to be a Biologist from a plethora of perspectives. I had the opportunity to engage in critical research by taking daily data of whale behaviors, I learned valuable skills; photography, photoshop, how to code and insert data into a database, gps navigation and identification. Yet, the best part about WDCS is that they believe in the Conservation of not only marine mammals but their environment so I found myself conducting water samples, leading a project on recycling while aboard the whale watch vessels, becoming a certified responder for marine mammal strandings, giving school talks to local children, and participating in the foundations of Mass Lobster Campaign. I had the opportunity at a very young age to network with the leading conservation biologists in the world and I am immensely proud that they taught me how to be a scientist. Being a whale watch naturalist and taking data for WDCS was one of the best experiences of my entire life. No matter how many times you witness whales in their natural environment- that moment of immense excitement and awe, never vanishes.
Current Position High School Biology Teacher in San Francisco, CA while getting my Masters from Loyola Marymount University in Urban Administration and Policy 
Advice for Potential Applicants Buy polarized sunglasses. They are a life changer!

How to apply for an internship