Overview

Assist with marine conservation initiatives and gain practical experience working with several species of sea turtle in vibrant Costa Rican habitats, plus choose from additional research or career experience!

Jalova will be your home away from home, as you participate in one of our most unique internships, where you will not only work on a variety of projects related to general conservation and sea turtle research, but you will also gain a formal leadership qualification, as you lay the groundwork for practical solutions to protect the three main turtle species that nest in this area.

Photo of a sea turtle crossing a beach towards the sea. A jungle is in the distance..

Costa Rica is widely regarded as the birthplace of ecotourism, with the coastline playing host to multiple beaches providing a location for nesting for four of the world’s sea turtle species, namely the green turtle, hawksbill and leatherback. Sea turtles are endangered around the world, and programs like this one, which works toward protecting and preserving their nests, along with assisting with research initiatives, ensure their chances of longer term survival and sustainability.

On this program, you will be assisting with both day and night surveys along with our partner’s staff, who have been extensively trained by our partners on the ground. This internship is multifaceted and will require involvement in various programs carried out at Jalova, such as participating in rainforest and wildlife surveys, and birds surveys in the Southern end of Tortuguero National Park canals. There will be a higher focus on maintenance of resources for the successful execution of the projects on the ground.

This internship involves comprehensive staff mentorship, extensive training, feedback, and evaluation. This greatly improves your general employability whether you are looking for a career in sustainable development, conservation or teaching. You will gain practical, hands-on experience in the field, which give you the opportunity to further your career prospects as well as give you an edge over other candidates hoping to get a job in the conservation field.

As an intern you will also be expected to be proactive and flexible, to embrace this unique experience and to learn all you can.

Highlights

  • Explore one of the most exotic locations in the word, as you work on an internship in the beautiful Jalova region of Costa Rica.
  • Meet and learn from your fellow international interns as you grow your employability and global citizen status.
  • Immerse yourself in the vast wildlife that Costa Rica has to offer, including some of the most majestic birds you will see around the world.
  • Assist with the conservation of an endangered species, while also learning more about the sector as a whole.
  • Our partner offers professional recommendations for future employers once you complete this internship.
  • Gain practical hands-on experience working with endangered sea turtles.

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.

Photo of interns wildlife-watching on the beach

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!

Photo of the internship's base in Jolova, Costa Rica. Three wooden huts are shown with jungle behind them.

Life On Base

Unplug and get in touch with nature in Tortuguero National Park. Situated in the heart of the jungle on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, 20 minutes away from the nearest small town, Jalova base is a photographer’s dream. During field work, you’ll walk the protected beaches looking for signs of turtles and jaguars, travel by canoe through foliage-draped canals spotting aquatic bird species, and, if you’re lucky, catch sight of a manatee in the water below. While trekking through the jungle, you’re likely to see howler monkeys and toucans. Sloths and tamanduas (a type of anteater) also live in the jungle, but due to their elusive nature you’re unlikely to spot them during your stay. Morning patrols feature spectacular sunrises over the Caribbean sea, and nightwalks reveal a star-filled sky. In their free time, staff and team members from all around the world relax at the base. For those with a passion for wildlife and conservation, Jalova is the ideal location.

Accommodation

Our base is located in a coconut plantation surrounded by rainforest, with a beach right on your doorstep. It’s incredibly remote as no one else has access to the area. All the buildings are wooden huts, raised off the ground to protect them from flooding. Sleeping areas are dorm-style and bathrooms are shared. While on base, you’ll be sharing the jungle with the abundant wildlife, who often pass through the property, allowing many opportunities for sightings.

Transportation

For project work, you’ll only need your feet, although boats are available for canal bird surveys. To participate in the turtle project, you’ll need a good pair of rubber boots, thick socks, and dark-coloured, long-sleeved, lightweight clothing. Once a month we go on a weekend excursion to Tortuguero. On these trips we have three different activities which participants can choose from: kayaking in the national park, hiking up the local hill in the national park (as the only hill in this predominantly flat area, it provides a great aerial view of the greater Tortuguero area), or visiting a chocolate farm. Due to time limitations we can only do two of these activities, which are chosen by majority vote.

Communication

Our research base is in a remote area, which means that phone signal is limited. The Wi-Fi on base is strictly reserved for research purposes by staff. This is your chance to unplug and live in the moment. You might have the opportunity to visit Tortuguero town two or three times during your visit, where you can make use of several internet cafés. You’ll also be able to buy a SIM card on arrival in Costa Rica which will allow you to access a 3G connection from the beach. Beach times are limited to daylight hours due to the nesting turtles and jaguars.

Meals

Many of our ingredients are brought in from a little store in Siquirres. Breakfast consists of fruits, porridge, and pancakes on Saturdays. Lunches and dinners feature a variety of vegetarian cuisine, from pastas to stir-fries. We’re like a big family on base, and share cooking and cleaning duties

Climate

Costa Rica is a tropical country, with a climate ranging from warm and rainy to hot and humid. Being a rainforest, the weather is highly variable and it can rain at any time of year. On average July is the wettest month and September the driest. The maximum temperature is around 29°C (84°F) with the minimum temperature around 17°C (63°F).

Fitness

The program is physically demanding. Every day during turtle season, a survey party goes out for 9.5 kilometres (on sand) in the heat, exposed to the elements. Three times a month, during jaguar season, we walk on the beach to Tortuguero, returning to base via boat. Shorter forest surveys are 3 to 5 kilometre-long return trips through difficult terrain. You will definitely be hitting your 10,000 steps.

Photo of a group of interns looking through binoculars at wildlife in the jungle canopy above them.

Training

This program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.

FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS | COURSES

All internships include three courses (Leadership, Careers in Sustainable Development and a specialisation course) offered in partnership with the University of Richmond and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS | ORIENTATION

Orientation: Your Health, Safety and Wellbeing

Learn about COVID-19 pre-departure guidelines, base expectations, personal and area hygiene practices and what we are doing to keep you safe.

Orientation: Travelling Responsibly and Ethically

Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.

Orientation: UN Sustainable Development Goals

Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.

Orientation: Further Opportunities for Impact

Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.

FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS AT JALOVA

Community: Women’s Empowerment

Learn about gender equality, skills development and examples of income generating activities.

Community: Human Empowerment

Learn about our empowerment principles.

Conservation: Survey Techniques and Logistics

An introduction to different survey techniques and best practice guidelines for surveys; introduction to different types of data and how to record information via a datasheet.

Conservation: Biodiversity & Target Species Identification

Learn about biodiversity and how biodiversity is measured, and classifying different species and how to identify species that indicate the health of the habitat.

Marine Conservation: Pollution and Plastics

Learn about issues with plastic and measures that can be taken to help reduce plastic consumption.

Jaguar Monitoring Training

Learn about jaguar biology and behaviour, how to identify a specific specimen, how to identify tracks, and how to set up a camera on a trail or on a predated turtle.

Turtle Monitoring Training

Learn about turtle biology, how to measure a turtle, perform a health check, how to distinguish between old and new turtle tracks on the beach and how to excavate a nest.

Canal Bird Identification Training

Learn how to identify the 30 target species important to MINAE and Tortuguero park, and how to input data from these surveys.

Biodiversity Survey Training

Learn how to identify 40 jungle species that indicate the health of the habitat, how to record and enter data, and the protocol of forest surveys.

Photo of a young turtle on a beach.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

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

Photo of a tree frog perched on a sheet on a washing line.

Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, adaptability and critical thinking – skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during your free time, or before and after your program.

On our community programs, the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.

Tortuguero National Park

The name “Tortuguero” can be translated as “land of the turtle”. The park is most well-known for its green turtle population, with leatherbacks and hawksbills frequenting its beaches. Very occasionally a loggerhead might pay a visit. Incredibly remote, Tortuguero is one of the least visited areas in Costa Rica. It has an incredibly high density of jaguars and is one of the only locations in the world where jaguars are known to prey on sea turtles. Its wide range of habitats, including rainforests and beaches, also allow many other species to flourish, like the endangered great green macaw and even manatees.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a wildlife lover’s paradise, featuring one the highest biodiversities in the world, approximately 4% of the total species on the planet. There are literally hundreds of species which can only be found here. More bird species call this nation home than the United States and Canada combined. Researchers attribute this natural wealth to the country’s plethora of habitats and its location between North and South America.

Photo of a river running through a jungle.

Duration, Dates & Costs

Duration of fieldwork:

4 – 12 weeks

Start Dates

2022: 06 Aug; 20 Aug; 03 Sep; 17 Sep; 01 Oct

2023: 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

Costs: 

  • 4 weeks -£3,545
  • 6 weeks -£4,345
  • 8 weeks -£5,095
  • 10 weeks -£5,895
  • 12 weeks -£6,545

Career and Research Internships have an additional cost. Please register your interest below for more information.

Photo of an intern attaching a camera trap to a tree.

What’s Included

  • 24-hour emergency desk
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All project equipment
  • Food (except on long-term internship placements)
  • Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)
  • Group introductory call
  • Welcome presentation
  • Endorsed Specialisation Course
  • Endorsed Leadership Course
  • Sustainable project work
  • Leadership responsibilities
  • Program training
  • Remote Internship Supervisor
  • Preferential recruitment on our partner’s positions
  • Job portal access
  • Endorsed Careers Course
  • Career coaching sessions
  • PDF reference – upon request

What’s Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • COVID-19: Health and Hygiene Fee
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs

Photo of a grove of coconut palm trees. People walk along the path through the grove into the distance.

Register your interest!

Reserve your place or ask a question