Looking for a Summer Job, Internship, or Research Experience?


This page is a compilation of information mainly about summer jobs, internships and research opportunities.  Some links may also have opportunities for scholarships, academic-year programs, part-time or full-time jobs and/or for information about careers.  


The first tab explains some of the vocabulary related to types of internships and research opportunities.


The second two tabs have information split between San Diego area opportunities--for those students who don't have the ability to look farther afield--and those opportunities that would require travel or relocation.  Many of summer research fellowships will pay travel expenses, so don't necessarily skip perusing these options if the expense is your only concern.

Information about different types of job and how to find a job

Internships--work experience programs that may or may not pay at all, but often include workshops to help get you career-ready


Research Experience--these are programs where you will be doing actual research projects that you have semi-designed yourself under the supervision of a faculty mentor


Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO)--not-for-profit groups such as WWF, Nature Conservancy, and Surfrider. Work may include advocacy or education as well as environmental sampling and/or research.


Federal Agencies, such as NOAA (housing the National Marine Fisheries Service), Fish and Game, Forestry, National Parks Service and NIH (medical)--For jobs and internships, visit USAJOBS.  There is a special section for college students and recent graduates (A. S. as well as B. S. or B. A.), and those with disabilities and veterans get special preference.  Also useful to search for "Biologist" nationally to get an idea of the types of positions are available in agencies as well as the pay scales and eligibility requirements (A. S., B. A. or Master's, for example). With your A. S. you will be eligible for GS-3 or GS-4 level positions such as "biological technician". Application procedures for federal jobs may seem overwhelmingly complex and intimidating, but there is a lot of help available on the site and you can also get help at Grossmont's Career Center if you need it. 


State Agencies, such as Fish and Wildlife, Parks and Recreation, and various Conservancy offices--All jobs with state agencies are posted in CA.gov. Some student-specific opportunities are available through this site--scroll to the bottom and click on the "Student Vacancies" icon. This site is also great to just search for information on possible career paths--search for "scientist" or "biologist" and see what turns up! Especially check out the duties,  pay rate (full-time jobs show monthly pay) and educational requirements. To look for a job that you can apply for with some college or an A.S. use the search terms "biological technician" "seasonal aid" or "scientific aid". You can search in San Diego County only or statewide. There is special preference for those with disabilities, veterans, those who are in CalWORKS or receive SNAP benefits. Application procedures for state jobs may seem overwhelmingly complex and intimidating, but there is a lot of help available on the site and you can also get help at Grossmont's Career Center if you need it.


Local Agencies--county or city


Environmental Consulting Firms--for-profit businesses who do work on management and monitoring of natural resources



Palomar Heath Pathmakers Internship

For all areas of pre-health care careers (including Spanish language interpreting) Palomar has an extremely sophisticated, well-organized and valuable internship program for college-age students. They accept applicants every three months. This is the best program in the area that I know of for anyone interested in medical, dental, pharmacy etc. school both to get experience needed on your resume but also to explore career options and get a sense of what it is like working in a hospital environment. 

City and County of San Diego Internships

A variety of Departments in the City & County government, including Transportation & Storm Water, Planning & Development, Environmental Health, Public Utitilies, Parks and Recreation, have paid and unpaid internship opportunities for college students on a sporadic basis (openings may be posted any time during the year).  They are up to 20 hours a week during shool sessions and more during summer or breaks and pay about $12/hr (if paid). The departments listed above are great opportunities to get real work experience for those of you interested in any kind of environmental field.  For those interested in Public Health and Pathology, there are also opportunities with the County in Health & Human Services and the Medical Examiner. Tasks can include field sampling, equipment use, GIS use, data recording and analysis, helping with surveys, habitat restoration, literature review, etc. Applications require an resume and cover letter. To find out what internships are open in the City of San Diego visit their Student Worker Internships page. For opportunities with the County of San Diego vist the Internships and Volunteers page.

Living Coast Discovery Center Animal Care Internships

The Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista is a delightful small nature center with collections of fish. invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and birds.  They accept applications for the unpaid, part-time internship for Animal Care on an ongoing basis with start dates three times a year.  Scroll down to find info on this program. If  you are interested in zoology or marine science this internship would give you valuable hands-on experience caring for exotic animals (and may lead to paid work at the Center--it did for one Grossmont student). Other types of opportunities are also available on this page. 

Southwest Fisheries Science Center


A Federal research institution concerned with managing marine mammals, sea turtles, and fisheries (including sharks as well as tuna and other pelagic fishes), abalone, etc. Located in La Jolla, CA. Has several undergraduate internship programs.

San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park

For information about their summer undergraduate internships as well as volunteer and career opportunities in zoo-related jobs, visit this page! Summer fellowship program applications are due in January or February. These are highly competitive and may relate to zoo education programs, operations of the park such as guides, as well as animal care. Scroll to the very bottom to find a link to opportunities at other zoos around the country. There is also a scientific research internship called the Summer Student Fellowship with the Institute for Conservation  Research with does work with/about animals and plants. This is probably even more competitive, but you definitely won't get it if you don't apply, so give it a try. 

U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program

Internships at SPAWAR here in San Diego in Animal Care and Training (for undergraduates) dealing with dolphins and sea lions. These are full time commitments so don't plan to take any other classes this semester (but a great opportunity if you have a gap semester before you can transfer!) These are available for Fall, Spring and Summer sessions with application deadlines of June 1, October 1 and March 1. You will need to arrange for a 199 course  with a faculty member at the same time as you are in the internship. Perfect if you are interested in marine mammal research/veterinary care and/or behavioral biology/psychology. See me if you are planning to apply.   

CALPIRG Campus Internships

If you are more interested in policy, advocacy, and politics than science itself, and want to find out what working for an NGO is like, this organization has internships (and even paid job openings) throughout the year on topics that can include environmental issues.  You will learn about educating voters, organizing events, and generally hone your leadership and rhetorical skills.

Birch Aquarium at SCRIPPS

Summer internships as docents are available in their K-12 education program, if you have a general background in biology/marine biology (probably Bio 105 or Bio 240 would work). Applications due in early April.



Use the Society for Conservation Biology website for Job Searches

Click on the blue "Jobs" tab and scroll down to browse ads by location or try using search terms such as "internship" "volunteer" or "undergraduate".  If you have a particular organism of interest, for example bats, try searching with that term as well.  Even if an internship or volunteer position is not listed, you might try contacting the person who posted the ad anyway.  It can't hurt to ask, especially if you are willing to work for the experience and a letter of recommendation.

Want to work outdoors, at a national park, at a farm, ranch or retreat center?  

Visit Cool Works to search these kinds of jobs.  The specialize in listings that appeal to the adventurous, out-doorsy and eco-minded.  Lots of summer jobs available here, but mostly not in the San Diego area.  A lot of the jobs are hospitality, but there are also ones ranging from trail maintenance to dog mushing and include entry level to leadership positions.

National Ecological Observatory Network

This program is a huge upcoming opportunity for science jobs! The NSF is setting up a national system of field stations to monitor climate change.  They will be building and staffing them on a rolling basis over the next several years.  They are scattered across the country and jobs range from summer field work to science education to full time-permanent staff scientist positions (PhD level). They have a summer internship program in Boulder Colorado (info available in the fall for applications) but they also hire a bunch of Seasonal Field Technicians (bachelor's degree NOT required) which you may be qualified for if you have experience in any of these areas: backcountry navigation, GPS, plant identification (such as leading nature hikes), water sampling, rodent or insect trapping, etc.  They hire full-time permanent Field Technicians with a bachelor's degree and a year of experience, so a summer job could be a gateway to a full-time one.  Check for the summer job listings starting in early December each year.

National Science Foundation Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

The major funding agency in the US for non-medical science funds summer research experience programs at colleges, universities, research stations and museums around the country and some international locations.  These may be highly competitive depending on the location and topic but you can apply to several.  Visit the NSF web site page to search locations or topics to find out what REU programs are available for the upcoming summer. Some locations have them every year and some have them only for three years so opportunities change over time. There are several REU programs in the San Diego area but dozens more all over the place.  Application deadlines vary between locations with some as early as January 1 and others as late as the end of May.

NIH Summer Internship Program (SIP)

You will work for 6-8 weeks doing biomedical research with scientist at the federal National Institutes of Health main campus in Bethesda, Maryland.  There is a special pot of money for Community College students, so make sure to apply for the CCSEP version of the program. It looks like all costs are covered except travel to the site.  Applications are typically due in January.

Summer Institute for Training in Biostatistics

These summer fellowships provide training and research experience in techniques of biostatistics as applied to human health, mostly in epidemiology and genetics.  There are several locations around the country, ranging from Columbia to NC State, and you have to apply to a specific one.  The link provided above lists these sites and provides links to them all. It looks like all costs are covered except travel to the site.  Applications due in early March.

SMART National Defense Scholarship and Internship Program

This is a tremendously competitive but valuable program that offers full scholarship for your college, paid summer internships, and a guaranteed job with the Department of Defense on graduation.  The catch is that you don't necessarily get to choose where you do your internships or where the job is (they require you to be "geographically mobile"). Any STEM area student may apply but most of the awards are in engineering, aeronautics and computer science.  Past awardees have gone to students at UCSD and SDSU.

Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society

Offers a variety of summer internships and a year-long scholarship for students interested in SCUBA diving, underwater photography/videography, and topics in marine biology and conservation.

International Student Volunteers and Earthwatch

You pay for these trips, but you can get college credit, so these are often called "Student Travel" or "Student Volunteer" programs.  These are pricey, but are interesting opportunities. 

Sea Education Association

Not an internship exactly, but doing their Semester at Sea will give you a chance to travel (on a sailing ship) and get research experience in oceanography as well as a semester of credit.  Their summer programs are focused on research. Program topics include climate change, sustainability, and conservation.  [I sailed on one of their ships for a week and was a TA for the shore-based oceanography class one semester, and this is a great program!!]