The Intern Experience: Josceline Cluff

Posted on by Ashley Fruno

Much of my life so far, at school and university, I’ve drifted through placidly, told that I was doing something I “should” do but with little conception as to why. Interning at PETA is the first time that question has been answered in every single second of the day, and it’s a phenomenal sensation. There’s a purpose to all that you do—it’s to help animals. And that knowledge, no matter what the task at hand, makes everything simple and fulfilling.

The PETA office is the friendliest and most welcoming environment that you can imagine, filled with wonderful staffers from across the globe who each have so many interesting tales to tell. Lunch is taken very seriously indeed, and every day, I looked forward to a delicious spread delivered from a local restaurant or cooked by one of the very talented staffers. While most of my work was desk-based (writing blog posts and letters to the editor, answering student questions, or researching organizations), I also participated in many outreach activities. During my time at PETA, I dressed up in a giant dog costume at a charity run, went leafleting in various locations in the city, and delivered boxes to the Presidential Palace filled to the brim with beautifully illustrated cards from school children requesting the release of Mali the elephant. Even small tasks, such as finding contact details for celebrities, became immensely satisfying when a week later, I would receive a news release announcing that celebrities I had researched had joined the “Free Mali” campaign.

Card delivery to the office of the president

Delivering Free Mali cards to the Office of the President

In fact, the most rewarding experiences of my life to date happened while I was in Manila, when we made weekly trips to a bus shelter in Pasay to take care of chained and stray dogs. Entering a housing project to find dogs in need of flea medicine, picking ticks off puppies, and providing cans of food and toys to any animal in need—these were things that I could never have experienced in England, and it was amazing to see with my own eyes how much we were helping these dogs and what an improvement the work of PETA staffers made in their lives. One dog in particular, Christmas, will always have a place in my heart. He still has the sweetest and most loving personality, despite having spent his life tethered to a short chain, a testament to the wonderful, caring nature of dogs, who so often remain hopeful and affectionate no matter what hardships they face at human hands.

Helping to care for stray and chained dogs

Josceline with Christmas, a chained dog in Pasay city

Interning in Manila also has so many of its own rewards. Makati, where the PETA office and the intern condo are situated, is a very metropolitan area, filled with shopping malls, restaurants, and hotels. It could be any city in the world, which makes for an easy and safe transition point for overseas interns. However, you only need to travel a short while away to see a more authentic image of Manila: streets lined with pink-blossomed trees, dilapidated Spanish-style buildings, stray dogs, and the smell of fried bananas on every corner. For a weekend trip, a short one-hour flight will take you to Palawan, Bohol, or Boracay: beautiful islands with crystal clear water and white-sand beaches. I loved every moment of my time here and was so happy to share the experience with other interns and staffers who were such fun and interesting people. Whether we were going out after work for karaoke (essential in the Philippines), staying in to watch films, attempting to fit three people on a scooter, or watching sunsets that I previously thought only existed thanks to Photoshop, at every moment it was lovely to be in the company of people who had the same ideals and focus.

All told, I can’t recommend interning at PETA enough: The work is both enjoyable and significant (a combination that I think few other internships can offer), and the knowledge that you are helping, in whatever way, makes every day that much easier. Despite never having been a morning person, while interning at PETA I happily woke up before my alarm each day, full of energy and excited to get to work.

Posted by former intern Josceline Cluff