Internships

Internships at OTS Research Stations in Costa Rica

OTS has an internship program offering opportunities at our three research stations in Costa Rica: Las Cruces Research Station & Wilson Botanical Garden, La Selva Research Station and Palo Verde Research Station. If you already have ongoing research at OTS, access the Research Project Management System to update information, change dates, or add new information.

These positions are open to a broad range of qualified individuals, including all ages and nationalities. OTS does not provide course credit for these experiences. However, many of our interns do get credit from their home institutions. Interns may come to OTS stations to work on independent projects based on their university’s requirements or to work on one of the available internship jobs listed below. All research projects carried out at OTS stations are subject to prior approval by OTS.

Interns will receive an orientation and work closely with station staff and a mentor throughout their stay. Interns are also expected to lead and carry out their projects with a high degree of independence. Prior interns include high school and undergraduate-level individuals seeking international experience, graduate students carrying out research and service projects, and professionals seeking to make a significant contribution to a larger scale project. What our interns have in common is a strong work ethic and a desire to contribute to conservation, environmental education, and research at a working research station in the tropics.

Application Instructions:

  1. Letter of interest (include the internship for which you are applying)
  2. CV or Resume
  3. Two letters of recommendation from professors or employers along with their contact information
  4. In case of a research project, the applicant may also be asked to submit a research project proposal. We will advise if this is necessary after receiving items 1-3.

Email application materials to Dr. Amanda Wendt, Interim Director of Research Stations. Put “Internship Application” in the title line of the email.

All internships require a minimum 6-weeks stay with preference given to internship stays of 10 weeks or more. After review of the application material, applicants will be invited to an interview via Skype or phone. Accepted interns will participate in an orientation call to go over details, questions, and assistance with planning their travel and stay at the station.

All internships are full-time positions with normal work hours. Interns will work closely with station staff and with a project mentor throughout their stay. Please see the list below for the base costs of the internship and other logistics that we can help coordinate.

Costs Additional Costs and Options
  • $350/week: Room and board at the station (includes 3 meals)
  • $350: One-time project coordination fee (for successful applicants only)
  • $8/load: Laundry service at the station

These are some additional costs to take into account. We can help you coordinate all of your travel within Costa Rica or you can do this independently. Below are some of the options with the average costs.

  • $40: Taxi to/from airport to hotel in San Jose
  • $55-90: Hotel in San Jose with OTS provider hotel
  • $100-200: Transfer in charter vehicle from San Jose to Research Station (costs vary depending on location)
  • $16: Public bus from San Jose to research station (Las Cruces and La Selva)
  • $10-$12: Taxi from bus station research station (one way)

Internships Available

This is a listing of the currently available internships at specific research stations. Some of the job descriptions are fairly specific. However, if you do not find an exact fit with one of them but are excited to work with us, you are welcome to apply under option #6 (Open Application Opportunity). Students applying with independent projects for credit with their university should also apply under option #6 (Open Application Opportunity).

Sustainability Intern

  • Where: Two internships available, one at each Las Cruces and La Selva
  • When: Anytime between January and December 2019
  • What: The Sustainability Intern will have the opportunity to learn about sustainability programs at the level of the research station and/or botanical garden, participate in community-level sustainability efforts including recycling programs, and be tasked with the creation of a sustainability demonstration center as part of the station’s environmental education program.
  • Duties and Responsibilities: The Sustainability Intern will research, design, and build an exhibit demonstrating locally practical uses of recycled materials and design an accompanying set of written material and signage for the sustainability demonstration center. The intern will work in close coordination with the station’s Environmental Education and Sustainability staff, and the maintenance and garden departments, to create the center and more generally with the entire staff (including kitchen, housekeeping, and research departments) to assist the implementation of sustainability practices. The intern may also be tasked with developing an educational module on sustainability for academic groups.
  • Education and Experience: Applicants should currently be pursuing, or have graduated from, an undergraduate program in sustainability, environmental studies, or closely related field. Applicants should have strong communications skills and work responsibly and safely with tools. Must be able to speak and read Spanish and English at an intermediate level or better.

Interpretive Specialist and Science Communication

  • Where: Two internships available, one at each Las Cruces and La Selva
  • When: Anytime between January and December 2019
  • What: This Interpretive Specialist internship offers a wonderful opportunity to develop outreach material, work with scientists at the stations to help them communicate their work using a variety of media, and create content for social medial outlets. The intern will learn about tropical ecology, natural history, and horticulture via interaction with the station scientific staff and visiting researchers.
  • Duties and Responsibilities: Responsibilities include assisting in the development of interpretive materials, visual displays and exhibits, and social media. Responsible for assisting visiting researchers to create outreach materials to communicate scientific research to a general public. Responsible for working with guide staff to brief them on current research projects and natural history items of relevance to visitors. May also be responsible for helping to create education modules based on science at each research station.
  • Education and Experience: Successful candidates must be self-motivated and possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills. A background in natural sciences is helpful. Must be able to speak and read Spanish and English at an intermediate level or better.

Plant Records/Herbarium/Collections Intern

  • Where: La Selva Research Station with possible visits to other sites
  • When: Anytime between January and December 2019
  • What: The Collections Intern works closely with the station’s resident naturalists, herbarium technician, entomology technician, and the Science Director to learn the methods and techniques applied in maintaining plant records and other collections at the research station. Specific experiences gained will include the curation and management of herbarium, DNA samples, arthropod collections, accessioning, verifying nomenclature, inventorying, and updating digital databases. The intern will also contribute to science communication by producing content for social medial and environmental education projects.
  • Duties and Responsibilities: The intern will work closely with station staff to maintain, grow, and curate a range of biological collections. The intern may also be expected to assist researchers in accessing and using the herbarium or collections.
  • Education and Experience: A background in either botany, plant taxonomy, horticulture or entomology. Familiarity with plant or insect identification keys is required. Applicants should currently be pursuing, or have graduated from, an undergraduate program in botany, entomology, horticulture, plant science, or closely related field. Must be able to speak and read Spanish at an intermediate level or better and speak English fluently.

Horticulture Intern

  • Where: Las Cruces Research Station & Wilson Botanical Garden
  • When: Anytime between January and December 2019
  • What: The Horticulture Intern helps maintain greenhouses and grounds of the Wilson Botanical Garden, the most important botanical garden in Central America.
  • Duties and Responsibilities: The Horticulture Intern will work with the garden staff to carry out planting, weeding, mulching, watering, pruning, staking, fertilizing, and occasionally assist with trail and path maintenance. The intern will work in the cultivated areas of the garden and occasionally on forest trails with a wide range of tropical woody plants, herbs, bulbs, ground covers, vegetables, and fruit trees. Depending on skill level, the intern may also be in charge of collecting native tree seeds and maintaining a native tree seedling nursery for restoration and reforestation projects.
  • Education and Experience: Applicants should currently be pursuing, or have graduated from, an undergraduate program in horticulture, biology, ecology, botany, environmental science, forestry, or closely related field. Applicants should be able to do physical outdoor work, be prepared for adverse field conditions (rainy, warm/cool weather), able to hike over slippery and rough terrain, and work responsibly and safely with garden tools. Must be able to speak and read Spanish and English at an intermediate level or better.

Station Steward

  • Where: Palo Verde Research Station
  • When: Anytime between January and December 2019
  • What: Palo Verde Research Station is a rustic facility embedded in Palo Verde National Park. The station plays a key role in conservation and research of a RAMSAR wetland site and an endangered dry tropical forest. This understaffed station needs a dedicated, rugged, and independent individual able to help with all station operations, most specifically supporting research projects, creating outreach material for land managers, assisting visiting tourists, and maintaining herbarium collections. Internship costs may be waived for a long-term stay (4+ months) by someone excellently suited to this position after an initial one-month trial period.
  • Duties and Responsibilities: Work closely with the Director of Research Stations and Palo Verde station staff to improve station operations and support a science and outreach program.
  • Education and Experience: This internship is open to a wide range of experiences, backgrounds, and skill sets. The most important skill is the ability to work well with Costa Rican staff at a remote location and effectively contribute to the hands-on operations of the research station. Must be able to speak and read Spanish and English at an intermediate to advanced level.

Open Application Opportunity

  • Where: At any research station
  • When: Anytime between January and December 2019
  • What: May be an independent project based on your institution’s requirements for course or degree credit or a specific skill set or project that fits with the mission of OTS.
  • Duties and Responsibilities: The details of the project will be developed in coordination with your degree program and with the station Science and Education staff.
  • Education and Experience: This internship is open to a wide range of experiences, backgrounds, and skill sets.