Overview

Live in the lush rainforest of Costa Rica and gain valuable work experience as a conservation intern plus choose from additional research or career experience

Imagine waking up in the lush rainforest of Costa Rica, to the sounds of exotic birds and wildlife. Imagine that the gorgeous backdrop of Tortuguero National Park is your office for the next couple of weeks and the vast unknown is yours to explore. Our Conservation Internship puts the adventure back into work experience! Gain valuable field-based experience to kick-start your career while experiencing the untouched beauty of the Costa Rican rainforest and the sandy white Caribbean beaches.

Conservation team in Costa Rican rainforest

Overview

Located in the Costa Rican rainforest, deep in Tortuguero National Park, you will join an international conservation team. By participating in our conservation internship, you will be able to give back to the fragile eco-system while at the same time, adding valuable, practical work experience to your CV and getting your career on the right track.

The internship will give you valuable insight into understanding this delicate and important eco-system. From population studies on endangered species such as the Jaguars and sea turtles (dependent on nesting seasons), to research skills such as camera trapping and data processing.

There will be a strong focus on developing professional skills and being able to apply them with a holistic approach to conservation. We aim to give you the skills to be able to monitor a wide range of eco-systems in a very diverse location. On top of that, you will be given specific leadership responsibilities, a weekly evaluation from your mentor who will be monitoring your progress as well as a professional reference on completion of the programme.

After a successful internship, qualifying candidates may be given the opportunity to work for us or selected partner organisations in Costa Rica, or in other countries around the world where we operate. Over 50% of our staff are recruited from our alumni database.

conservationist on the beach digging

Highlights

Getting the chance to go on this unique adventure in a Costa Rican National Park; enjoying life at the research station; learning about the wildlife and their habitat; seeing unique wildlife in marine and coastal rainforest environments, including sea turtles, monkeys, neo-tropical birds and amphibians; exploring the area by boat and canoe, including remote Caribbean beaches, gaining a wide variety of skills, including learning survey techniques and gaining real field experience, joining the research team to undertake turtle nesting surveys and monitor nesting sites during turtle season; participating on jaguar surveys; setting up and checking camera traps and tracking in the rainforest.

Testimonial

“They afforded me the opportunity of gaining valuable practical experience relevant to the environmental management and impact assessment fields. Further to this it also provides the individual with a unique experience in a visually stunning and stimulating environment. I would recommend this to any individuals wishing to further themselves with regard to environmental science and would be ideally suited for recent graduates looking to develop their practical ability after the theory of University.” – Ian Thomson (USA)

conservationists on the beach

Our Award-winning Partner

Conservation Careers has teamed up with an award-winning, mission-driven organisation with a team of passionate experts across the globe who will make your experience a truly unforgettable one.

Founded in 1998, they run programs in 21 locations, in 13 countries around the world, each aligned to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well as the objectives of local partners. They welcome participants from all around the world and help facilitate their development into global citizens. This is how they achieve their mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Their commitment to running high-quality sustainable development and experiential education programs has earned them recognition from numerous organizations such as Panthera, the Seychelles Parks & Gardens Authority, as well as Stanford, NYU, Duke, and Ohio State.

If you register your interest below, you’ll put you in touch with our partner to take the booking and to plan your trip!

To see all our Conservation Careers Internship opportunities, please click here.

conservationists working

Enhance your internship with Career or Research opportunities

You can choose to do only the Core Internship, or extend and specialise your experience by choosing between Career or Research internship options.

Career Internship

A career internship will give you a leg up into your career as a conservation or sustainable development practitioner. Career internships are best suited to participants who are looking to gain additional experience collaborating on impactful initiatives with our global partners.

The main focus of our career internships is for you to complete practical work at a base and then a range of virtual project work with our international partners.

Your career internship fee will cover your pre-departure support and materials, food, accommodation, training and orientation, long-term field staff, 24-hour in-country support, and project equipment. As well as:

  • Pre-program training.
  • Three online courses endorsed by the University of Richmond.
  • Training on our partner’s ethics and work with the UN SDGs, your internship location and project focus.
  • Practical experience working in the field alongside local and international experts.
  • A remote internship supervisor who’ll provide you with one-on-one support and guidance.
  • A project with a partner.
  • A professional reference upon successfully completing your internship.
  • A LinkedIn reference and skills endorsement upon successfully completing your internship.
  • Access to a job portal of available roles in conservation and sustainable development.
  • Preference on opportunities to work for our partner.
  • An employment guarantee (if your career internship was longer than 6 months).

You’ll also get the opportunity to gain insight into how projects are implemented in a variety of our career internship locations, when you meet and collaborate virtually with other career interns, and partners, across our locations around the world.

Research Internship

Are you in the process of completing a research paper, thesis or dissertation?

The main focus of a research internship is to support you in collecting and/or analysing the data that you’ll use to write up your paper. And thanks to our partner’s involvement in global conservation and sustainable development, you’ll be able to supplement your research with insights from existing datasets that were 20 years in the making.

Research internships also help you to prepare for your future career in the industry by giving you experience with field research methodologies.

Your research internship fee will cover your pre-departure support and materials, food, accommodation, training and orientation, long-term field staff, 24-hour in-country support, and project equipment. As well as:

  • Pre-program training.
  • Three online courses endorsed by the University of Richmond.
  • Training on our partner’s ethics and work with the UN SDGs, your internship location and project focus.
  • Practical experience working in the field alongside local and international experts.
  • A remote internship supervisor who’ll provide you with one-on-one support and guidance.
  • Support with completing a research paper or thesis.
  • A professional reference upon successfully completing your internship.
  • A LinkedIn reference and skills endorsement upon successfully completing your internship.
  • Access to a job portal of available roles in conservation and sustainable development.
  • Preference regarding opportunities to work for our partner.
  • An employment guarantee (if your research internship was longer than 6 months).

Not to mention unforgettable, off-the-beaten-track, life-changing experiences!

Jalova

Our research station in Jalova is found in the stunning Tortuguero National Park, surrounded on three sides by protected rainforest and on the other by the Caribbean Sea and a beach that is home to one of the largest nesting colonies of Green Turtles in the world. Spend your time surrounded by the breathtaking scenery and wildlife of the rich canals, tropical rainforest and Caribbean beaches. There is no road access to this location, so all transportation is via canoe and motor boat, through the stunning canal and river system surrounded by tropical rainforest and wildlife.

Project Details

The project will provide a firm foundation for personal training and development whilst getting you immersed in the ongoing conservation efforts. After you have completed the rigorous training the programme will rotate amongst a series of focus projects:

Monitoring and Conservation of Sea Turtles (running March to October):
Record important conservation data on nesting turtles for a range of marine turtle species including hawksbill, green, and leatherback.

Marine Turtle Predation by Jaguars:
Investigate the impact of Jaguar populations on sea turtle populations.

Jaguar, Mammal and Prey Species Abundance Study:
Set up camera traps and conduct transects that record tracks and signs in the National Park forest.

Resident and Migratory Bird Research:
Help monitor 30 key aquatic bird species in order to collect long-term seasonal trend data on resident and migratory birds on canoe based surveys.

Due to the fact that we are working in a National Park, we need to have a special scientific permit to conduct research so you will be asked for some papers to be able to process it. It is a fairly simple process.

Additional Learning

Increasing Employability: Pre Departure Program Training:

Our programs are not only life-changing experiences but are also designed to help participants increase their employability. We have developed a curriculum to be completed prior to arrival in the country in order to ensure that more time is dedicated to program work once you commence your volunteer program. 

Eight weeks prior to your start date, you will complete the following online courses in preparation for your in-country program:

PRE-DEPARTURE ORIENTATION (1 hour)

PROGRAM SPECIFIC TRAINING (1 – 5 hours)

WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COURSE (10 – 15 hours)

LEADERSHIP COURSE (10 – 15 hours)

CAREERS COURSE (10 – 15 hours)

In order to obtain a certificate for the Wildlife Conservation, Leadership and Careers courses which are endorsed by the University of Richmond and UNC Charlotte, you will need to complete quizzes & assignments and will be given 4 weeks post program to submit your work. 

If you are looking to travel in less than 8 weeks from now, you will still complete the course however this will be done in country and all content will need to be downloaded before arrival. 

Health & Hygiene:

The work we contribute to across the globe remains important and new measures allow our participants to continue to join our programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. Changes to our existing protocols have been made by our health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities. Please inquire for more information on the protocols. 

How This Project Makes a Difference

Working with us goes beyond spending 4 weeks in paradise. Participants can be ensured that the time and money they invest in our project will go towards protecting this unique eco-systems and wildlife. We works closely with the Costa Rican Ministry of The Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAET) and partners with the world-renowned organisations such as Sea Turtle conservancy, Jaguar Conservation and Pathera to provide and collaborate on conservation efforts in Tortuguero.

The work carried out by us in Costa Rica has provided a huge amount of critical data to the Costa Rican government to help them to make important conservation decisions and ensure the survival of the biodiversity of this unique area of the rainforest.

For example, much of our efforts have been used to achieve massive reductions in sea turtle nest poaching.

conservationist on the beach

Free Time

Internships with us not only allow you to participate on programmes assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your programme. Many decide to travel after completing their internship, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on programme.

Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with us. Our Jalova field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Costa Rica!

Optional Side Trips
Given your isolated location, a lot of your down time will be spent on base, the rainforest is not a place to go wondering! However there are still some possibilities in the immediate area for you to make the most of your time in Costa Rica. You can visit Tortuguero Village, browse its small souvenir shops, visit the delicious bakery and just watch the world go lazily by. For longer term participants on long weekend breaks, you could decide to head off base and further explore the Caribbean region. Hiking, snorkelling, fishing, or canopy and zip-line tours are just some of the activities that are possible in the area. For something a bit more intense, you could raft on the white waters of the famous Pacuare River on class III to IV rapids over the course of 1- or 2-day trips. And if the adventure activities are not for you, then simply relax in a laidback Caribbean village!

conservationist in rainforest

Further Travel Opportunities

Costa Rica is an amazing country with an abundance of travel opportunities further afield with the following just a snapshot of the many possibilities!

Admire the famous and active Volcan Arenal from a distance and relax in the natural hot springs; surf the Salsa Brava – a hotspot of the Caribbean for the advanced surfer; ride horseback on the beach in Puerto Viejo or simply enjoy miles and miles of beautiful beaches kissed by palm trees; spot migratory raptor birds in the Talamanca Mountains and visit indigenous villages to learn more about their amazing culture; discover the cloud forest at Monteverde, visit the hummingbird gallery, enjoy the locally made ice cream and other fresh dairy products or walk among the treetops on the hanging bridges; enjoy the organised wildlife tours of Braulio Carrillo National Park; travel across the country to discover the beautiful Pacific Coast with its hidden white sand beaches; visit Volcan Irazu and discover coffee farms on the way back to San Jose; back in the capital, visit the Gold Museum or the Jade Museum, attend a play in one of the numerous theatres or take in the Latin American vibe with its lively nightlife.

Experiences

During your program, you’ll also have the opportunity to experience tailor-made adventure and wellness activities. These have been specially designed to further immerse you in the diversity and richness of the habitats and cultures around you.

Exclusive local experiences:

  • Learn to pick and husk a coconut
  • Visit the world’s oldest sea turtle research group
  • Meditate on the beach at sunrise
  • Take a jungle nightwalk and frog watch
  • Canoe along jungle river canals at dawn
  • Stargaze and learn the northern constellations
  • Hike an extinct volcano, Cerro Tortuguero
  • Visit a sustainable chocolate farm

conservationist bird watching

Duration, Dates & Costs

The programme lasts 4-12 weeks.

  • 4 weeks £3,545
  • 6  weeks £4,345
  • 8 weeks £5,095
  • 10 weeks £5,895
  • 12 weeks £6,545
Starts dates are as follows:
  • 2022 – 01 Oct; 15 Oct; 29 Oct; 12 Nov; 26 Nov; 10 Dec; 24 Dec
  • 2023 – 07 Jan; 21 Jan; 04 Feb; 18 Feb; 04 Mar; 18 Mar; 01 Apr; 15 Apr; 29 Apr; 13 May; 27 May; 10 Jun; 24 Jun; 08 Jul; 22 Jul; 05 Aug; 19 Aug; 02 Dep; 16 Sep; 30 Sep; 14 Oct; 28 Oct; 11 Nov; 25 Nov; 09 Dec; 23 Dec

sunset

What’s Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Camera trap use and training
  • Certification and summary of training and experience received
  • Confidential professional reference
  • Final evaluation
  • First Aid & CPR training
  • GPS training
  • Leadership Training Course
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Scientific techniques in collection of biometric data, transect work, incidental observation, tourist and human impact surveys, camera trapping and, track identification
  • Sea turtle tagging training (season and placement dependent)
  • Teamwork and leadership experience
  • Track identification training
  • Transfer to rainforest location
  • Tropical forest ecology
  • Tropical forest ecology training
  • Weekly evaluation with your mentor
  • Welcome meeting
  • Wildlife identification skills

What’s Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Visa costs

hiding cheetah

Register your interest!

About Conservation Careers

Conservation Careers has teamed up a family-run organisation with an amazing culture and an awesome team of people across the world who are passionate experts in their chosen field and will make your experience a truly unforgettable one (in a good way).

Their award-winning projects receive over 2000 participants every year, and we’re proud to say that the vast majority of them describe their experience with them as ‘life changing’. Their approval rate from over 20,000 participants since 1997 is over 95%.

A key component of the success of their community development and conservation projects is the participants who join their programs.