Meet Emily – The Next Jack Hanna

Meet Emily. Emily is an all-around rock star. She is an excellent student and is involved in more extracurricular activities than most kids her age. She plays electric guitar, practices taekwondo, rides horses, plays various sports, is a member of 4-H, and in all of her spare time, works at The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (The Zoo). Did we mention Emily is a rock star?

A junior at Buckeye Valley, Emily places a high priority on her school work. She excels in her academics which her mom attributes to her extreme work ethic and dedication to her studies. Emily knows that to be accepted into a zoology program in college, she must put in the work to get good grades in high school first. Emily’s passion for animals and desire to be a zookeeper someday is what inspired Emily to apply to work at The Zoo.

Becoming a Zoo Aide is no easy task. Emily had to compete against 200 other applicants, go through an extensive interview process, and explain to The Zoo why they should hire her over someone else. To prepare herself for this experience, Emily participated in a job readiness training. During this training she learned about what she should wear to an interview, practiced how to communicate with coworkers, and participated in mock interviews. This 8-week course proved to be very useful in preparing for her interview with The Zoo.

When it came time for Emily’s big interview with The Zoo, her job coach accompanied her. However, Emily was so prepared from her job readiness course that she never needed to lean on her coach for support. They asked Emily why they should hire her and she confidently answered, “I am a hard worker and passionate about animals.” Emily interviewed so well that they offered her one of the positions in the Zoo Rides Department on the spot. We asked her what it felt like to hear she had gotten the job and she exclaimed, “It was awesome!”

Emily has worked as a Zoo Aide since 2016 and Rides Operator since the Spring of 2018. Some of her responsibilities include educating guests about animals, operating rides, and driving the train around The Zoo. In recognition of her excellent work as a Zoo Aide, Emily has received her fair share of Zoo Cash which is awarded by coworkers and visitors when they see a Zoo employee doing a good deed. It’s safe to say that Emily loves her job. Like most people who frequent The Zoo, Emily has her favorite exhibits and animals too. She enjoys the manatees, Asia Quest, kangaroos, giraffe feeding, and monitoring the polar bears on The Zoo’s tablet. “I have always wanted to work at The Zoo. This was a good way to get my foot in the door.”

We asked Emily what advice she would give to someone applying for a job and she said, “Practice before you go in for your interview. Don’t give up on what you’re trying to achieve.” Wise words from such a young professional!

In her free time, Emily enjoys playing video games, watching movies and writing letters to her favorite celebrities. Emily has written to Adam Sandler, Tia Torres (Pit Bulls & Parolees), Dr. Pol (Nat Geo Wild), Duck Dynasty, and Colleen Ballinger (YouTube celebrity). She has received an autographed picture or personalized note from all of these celebrities. The next star she plans to write is Kelly Clarkson.

We know that whatever Emily sets her mind to, she can achieve. Keep up the great work Emily!

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