Reviving Childhood Memories

Kelsey White '20 interned at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. (Photo Provided)

Matt Hawkins
August 7, 2017

The San Diego Zoo captured Kelsey White’s ’20 imagination as a child living in the city. As college student, it shaped her career path through an unexpected internship.

White, a professional sales major, wanted an internship close to home. On a whim, she searched for zoo opportunities and found a retail operations opening at the zoo’s sister Safari Park.

“It was unbelievable to work somewhere that meant so much to me,” she said. “I just wanted something to do for the summer, but I found a passion for wildlife and nonprofits. I walked away from the experience learning more about myself than I ever expected.”

The internship put White in the center of the zoo’s retail and merchandising division. She experienced the operation’s full scope and met people who kept operations running smoothly. She interacted with guests as a cashier, managed inventory, coordinated with buyers and created displays for the zoo’s retail spaces.

In addition, White saw the zoo’s conservation-focused culture. Safari Park staff are noted for their work with the Los Angeles Zoo to bring back California condors from near-extinction. Additionally, the zoo is active with plant conservation efforts.

“Most people don’t realize what happens behind the scenes,” she said. “There is so much work going into animal care, environmental awareness and conservation. It’s amazing to see everything the zoo does to engage the public with important issues.”

By summer’s end, White’s casual interest in nonprofit work became a serious career consideration. She recognized she could pursue passions professionally and positively make an impact.

“Nothing happens without passionate people working for a better world,” she said. “I met many coworkers who were passionate for wildlife. Through them, I learned that nothing happens without passionate people working for a better world.”