C.E.L.O. Frequently Asked Questions

My degree is not related to animals or science but I really want to work with animals. Will I be considered?
Many individuals come to the zoo searching for a change in career path. We welcome such applicants if they demonstrate a desire and passion for the area in which they are applying in addition to outside experience in the field of animal care through volunteering, research, previous paid positions or internships. You may still be considered.

I know the program is competitive. What time of year is the best to apply for a Keeper internship to improve my chances for selection?
Due to the high influx of college students during the summer months, our summer term is most competitive. If you are able to apply for a fall or winter term, there will be fewer applicants.

I have never worked with animals before but really want to be a zookeeper. Should I apply for a keeper internship?
Our zookeeper internships are very competitive. Though we do not require a specific amount of hands-on animal experience to be considered, you should demonstrate some interest in working with animals either through volunteer work, research, previous paid positions or internships.

When is the best time to apply for summer internships?
Summer internship positions are generally posted in December of each year and applications are due in early February. Check the deadline chart for details at http://www.czs.org/czs/Educational-Programs/Internships.aspx
  • Positions offered vary each term, so it is best to wait until opportunities are posted for your term before applying.

What is the best method for application?
Fax 708-688-7304 or email interns@czs.org are the best options. If emailing, pdf format is best.

I already filled out the online application. Is there anything else I need to do?
Yes! In order to be considered, applicants must submit all materials listed under the “Application” section of the website. http://www.czs.org/czs/Educational-Programs/Internships.aspx

I have already graduated college, may I still apply?
Yes, for most experiences you may apply even after you have finished your college degree.

To whom should my references address my letters?
Many individuals review each application. General salutations such as “to whom it may concern” or “intern selection committee” will suffice.

What is a "professional letter of recommendation"?
We suggest you request letters of recommendation from individuals who have known you in a professional capacity. Some examples of this include teachers and supervisors (either from paid or volunteer experience). Letters from friends, significant others and family members are generally discouraged. References should include the length and capacity in which they have worked with you and their direct contact information should we need more details. Signed letters on letterhead are preferred but not required. 

Can my references send letters directly to you?
Yes. Fax 708-688-7609 or email interns@czs.org are preferred.

I have requested many letters of recommendation. Should I include all of them in my application?
Please only include the materials requested in our application guidelines. Any additional materials (extra letters of reference, photos, certificates, etc.) will be pulled from your file prior to consideration.

Do I have a better chance of being selected if I submit my application right away?
No, all applicants who submit complete application materials prior to the deadline will be considered at the same level.

Should I send my application all together or are separate pieces okay?
Either option is acceptable. If you are requesting letters of reference and/or transcripts to be sent separately, please request that they arrive prior to 5pm CST of the deadline date.

I think I submitted everything, but can I contact you to check?
You may email interns@czs.org to verify that your materials have been received. Please note that responses from staff may be delayed based on number of applicants/requests.

Do I need to submit an official transcript?
We only require copies of unofficial transcripts for your application. If you are selected for an opportunity, it is at that point we require official transcripts.

I do not live by Brookfield Zoo, can I do a phone interview if selected?
Most zookeeper positions require an in person interview. Many non-zookeeper positions are open to scheduling phone interviews. If you are unable to complete an in-person interview, please let us know.

How will I hear if I have been selected?
All applicants are notified of the selection process through email. If email is not provided, you will be notified through postal mail or phone.

I see that I am required to obtain certain immunizations if selected for an opportunity. Will CZS pay for this?
No. All immunization costs are up to the candidate.

I prefer not to receive immunizations, will you accept a waiver from my physician?
No. All immunizations requested are for your safety as well as the safety of our animals and guests. Waivers will not be accepted.

Can I be an intern for six or more months?
Most of our internships are on a 12 week/40 hour per week schedule. If you are placed in a non-keeper internship that is flexible with schedules, you may be able to extend the length of your internship. However, no intern is permitted to serve in an internship for more than 480 hours.

I work/go to school; can I request to have certain days off?
Most of our internships are on a 12 week/40 hour per week schedule and are not flexible around work/school schedules. Others are slightly more flexible. If you have specific scheduling requirements, it is best to bring this up in an interview if you are selected for one. Please note that Brookfield Zoo is open 365 days a year and you may be asked to come in on regular weekends and holidays.

I live far away from the zoo. Will you provide housing, transportation, reimbursement or funds for meals if I am selected?
Unfortunately we are unable to provide any of these items for our CELO participants. All participants are responsible for finding their own accommodations and transportation. No compensation will be given to interns outside of our few paid intern positions. Occasionally we have staff that offer rooms for rent locally and when those opportunities are available you may utilize them. These arrangements are to be done on a personal level and are not covered by the Chicago Zoological Society.

I loved my internship, may I do another?
In order to make opportunities available to as many individuals as possible, we do not permit participants to complete more than one type of the same internship (ie; you may not serve as a Marketing intern twice, nor may you serve as a zookeeper in one animal exhibit and then as a zookeeper in another). You may apply for internships in different areas of the zoo if you meet the requirements and are sincerely interested in the areas. If you wish to apply for a separate internship, you will need to submit a new application.

I applied for a position but was not accepted. Can I apply again?
You are encouraged to apply again for an opportunity if you were not selected the first time. If you are applying for the next following term, just notify the Conservation Leadership Program Supervisor OR email interns@czs.org and your application will be rolled over.