Conservation Internship in Costa Rica

Start your career in conservation by completing an internship program in lush biodiversity hotspot, Costa Rica.

Durations:  24 weeks

Program information

Gain valuable field-based experience and critical technical skills to kickstart your career in conservation by joining our conservation internship in the pristine coastal rainforests of Costa Rica. Learn from an international team of researchers while contributing to projects focusing on species like jaguars and sea turtles.

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Included in your program

Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness 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

Connect with our alumni
Want to connect with some of our past participants about their adventures? Get in touch with hundreds of friendly ambassadors all over the world who would be more than happy to answer any questions.
Testimonial bg

Simon Benstead

05 Mar, 2019
My name is Simon Benstead, I am now a Project Management Office (PMO) analyst for a consultant company called FDM. Currently I am contracted to HSBC in London as a PMO analyst for Global Data Services. I am originally from Newport, South Wales and I studied Mathematics at Swansea University. Back in November 2016, I embarked on my GVI conservation trip to Costa Rica. The programme I took part in was the Jaguar conservation project in Jalova/Tortugureo National Park. After university I wanted to take a break and experience other cultures around the world, although mainly I just wanted an adventure for myself after the hard work of a mathematics degree, so I searched online for chances to volunteer in remote locations and came across the opportunity to join GVI. After a phone call with the GVI support team I decided to apply for a place on the Jaguar conservation project. Upon becoming a volunteer, it was a great privilege to be able to offer a good cause a helping hand. Whilst being exposed to new climates along with a change in life style, you have to adapt whilst being a volunteer which is extremely rewarding. Obviously having to pitch in with the various janitorial jobs and waking up at the break of dawn is hard to get used to, but it makes it easier knowing that the other volunteers that surround you are in the same boat. The Jalova camp provided a lot to do; for the first three days we went through our initial training which consisted of first aid/Jungle safety and identification tests for Mammals, Amphibians, Reptiles and Birds. The Bird identification test was the most crucial as we needed to recognise bird songs on our canoe surveys. While we were studying for the test, we also got ourselves settled into the jobs that where required around the camp which included washing, cooking and cleaning the toilets, to name but a few. The first survey took place at the beach, where we walked up a part of a 14 mile stretch of coast recording the wildlife we observed. We were very lucky as we bumped into an “eruption” of baby green turtles which, to this day is one of the most magical sights I have ever seen and guarded them as they shuffled towards the sea. As part of the Jaguar programme I also had to learn to identify the jaguars that we captured on the camera traps. The main aspect of the programme was to keep and maintain the camera traps, which involved walking along the jungle paths and cleaning, replacing and resetting the traps. Once done we took the SD cards back to camp to analyse the footage to check to see if we’d been lucky enough to capture footage of the jaguars. The camp leaders were extremely friendly and supportive throughout the whole trip. This was especially true when we had to evacuate the camp and leave for San Jose half way through my time there. The evacuation was due to an incoming hurricane off the coast central America and I can’t thank the camp leaders enough for getting us out of the Camp safely. Upon completion of the project, I learned how much appreciation I have for wildlife, and it also gave me a lot of confidence when I returned home to start my job hunt, that being the confidence to go out into the world and start my career. I have no doubt that GVI helped me to get my current job as it is one of the best conversation starters, but it also developed my analytical skills and refined the patience required when completing competing tasks. All in all I had an amazing time; I met lifelong friends, saw and experienced things that I will forever treasure and gained a newfound love for our amazing planet.

Holly McKelvey

15 Aug, 2018
Testimonial GVI was a wonderful experience for me because of the doors that it opened. After six challenging yet indisputably valuable months of conservation and research on the GVI Jalova project and on placement, I fell completely in love with Costa Rica and the work that GVI is doing here, and took a job with GVI to stay on in the country. I am now back in Costa Rica after six months away, working at the same reserve where I was sent on placement, all because of the wonderful connections that GVI helped me to establish. Interview **Why did you choose to do an internship with GVI?** I chose to pursue an internship with GVI because I wanted to shift direction from my undergraduate focus on geology towards ecology; GVI appealed to me as an opportunity to get field experience in biology, which would help to give me a more comprehensive view of ecosystems, with an understanding both of the abiotic factors through my background in geology, and of the biotic factors through my experience with GVI. From a personal perspective, I also hoped to put myself in challenging new situations, gain experience working in Latin America, and strengthen my Spanish. **How did your internship help you achieve your personal and professional goals?** Professionally, the experience has led to one opportunity after another: first, to continue working in Costa Rica on the Quepos project, which allowed me to live and work in a Spanish setting and gain experience managing volunteers; and second, to return to Costa Rica 6 months later to as temporary manager at Cloudbridge, GVI's partner organization in Costa Rica where I was initially placed on my internship. This has helped to give me a direction for my graduate studies in ecology. On a personal level, the conservation internship helped me to feel more confident in new and drastically different environments; and my experience on the community project helped me to gain confidence speaking Spanish, and immerse myself in the local Costa Rican culture. **Has your GVI internship helped you develop your career and be more employable? Would you recommend your internship from a professional and personal development perspective?** My GVI internship has absolutely given me skills that I need to be more employable, namely a knowledge of biological surveying, people management skills, and Spanish. Indeed it has already led to a job opportunity at Cloudbridge which is leading me into my graduate studies. Although I would not recommend GVI as necessary for career advancement, I would absolutely recommend it as an opportunity to broaden one's horizons, build confidence, expose oneself to new experiences and challenging situations, all of which are valuable skills in the working world.

Ian Thomson

15 Aug, 2018
I have been based in Jalova since January 2013 and since arriving it has been a thoroughly memorable experience. The sheer diversity of Flora and Fauna provides the opportunity that you’ll never know what maybe round the next corner. This in conjunction with staff who are passionate and supportive made the whole experience truly amazing, so much so I ended up staying a lot longer than I meant to. Interview **Why did you choose to do an internship with GVI?** The internship with GVI 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. **How did your internship help you achieve your personal and professional goals?** The internship allowed me to develop professional skill sets such as taxonomic classification and data analysis, as well as interpersonal and leadership attributes. The choice of location, staff and relative isolation are key factor in contributing to these skills and allowed me the opportunity and support to focus on these areas. **Has your GVI internship helped you develop your career and be more employable? Would you recommend your internship from a professional and personal development perspective?** I would recommend this internship 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. Although the opportunities presented here would benefit anyone with an interest in this area and are prepared to work hard and enjoy themselves.

Rachel Aronson

17 Jan, 2014
I am so pleased that I made a 6 month commitment to living and working in such a unique place. The wealth of biodiversity I wanted to experience has exceeded all my expectations. I have met wonderful people here who have further enriched my experience. The GVI Jalova 6-month internship was a great choice for me and I would recommend it highly.

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