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thereservoirdog

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I've only recently decided to try and get into vet school but I don't have any experience hours yet. Whenever I see a job posting on craigslist for a vet assistant I apply but I'm not getting any responses back. Should I just call up vet clinics and ask if they need help? Because I'm getting tired of applying everywhere and never hearing back. What did you guys do?
 

conservationgal

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I totally understand your problem, because I myself was in the same situation a few years ago. I would go home from college during the summers to work, but my hometown has a veterinary technician program at the local CC, which made it very hard for me (just a pre-vet student) to get the experience I needed. I finally just decided to volunteer at a clinic one summer and shadow the doctor...it worked out great and I actually got to do more things than I originally expected. The next summer I was invited back as a full-time veterinary assistant and I got paid very well. I also basically got to do as much as the techs were doing, so it was great experience. I guess the best thing to do is to start off being a volunteer/shadowing somewhere and hopefully you will get offered a job of some sort, so at least you can get paid for it. Just have a positive attitude and don't be afraid to get your hands dirty! ;)
 

Ju4910

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Don't worry, you will find a way to gain experience. I just wanted to add, I had a job when I was in high school where the manager would only hire people when they called back to check on the status of their application. He said it showed him they were serious about the job and that they were responsible. Not saying that I think this is what those vet offices are doing, but I would call them and make sure somebody looked at your application, I would say ~1 week after you dropped it off. Good luck!
 
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winterfire1203

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Try volunteering first. You won't be making money, but you'll get the experience. Where I started volunteering I was actually hired so now I'm making money and getting my experience at the same time. At the least it will give you some experience to apply towards being hired somewhere else. Also try going to places like the humane society and volunteering. Working at a horse farm, even just cleaning stalls, will add some large animal experience too.
 

sonnyman28

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I was in a similar situation as you. My only background was in legal offices/finance offices. I volunteered and only started walking dogs at a local animal shelter at first. Within no time, as long as you show the motivation and inquire about any help you may provide in a shelter's medical dept/or just another responsibility at this shelter, you can get you foot in the door. Once in, you'll be suprised of the responses you will get. Do not worry to much about having just volunteering experience as your hours also, it's simply the quality and time dedication of what you do. PM if you need any more info....I was in your boat a little more than a year ago today. Take care.
 

agr1365

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For actual veterinary experience, I just asked a local veterinarian if I could just shadow him. I followed him around all summer and observed, helped hold animals, give some shots; etc. I never asked him for money, but at the end he tried to pay me. I told him that a recommendation would be good enough. Now, when I need him to look at my dog or horse he doesn't charge me, even for meds.
Another thing to remember is to get any animal experience you can. Most of my experience came from working as a cowboy on a couple different outfits. However, if you live in a city you might be able to muck stalls at a local stable or possibly volunteer your time at an animal shelter.
As far as getting a paid position in a veterinary environment is pretty difficult from all that I hear, but I am sure that it can be done. However, if you need to start getting this experience soon you might want to just volunteer until a better opportunity presents itself.
 

RazorDoc2010

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I agree with everything that's already been said, but I have one more nugget of quasi-wisdom to offer...don't count yourself out of any job until you talk to them! My very first job in the veterinary field was at an emergency clinic...they were completely fine with me not having any experience as they could bring me up the "right" (read: their) way. Good luck getting the experience!!
 

Moonpaw

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Is there anyone who knows how to get decent large animal experience living in NYC? I've tried calling a stable in Brooklyn about volunteering, and I've left at least three messages with people, but the woman in charge hasn't called me back, and it's been well over a week. I also tried an equine hospital, but to make a long story short, they sort of screwed my whole summer.
 

Wisco

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well I dont know where in NYC you are but if you can take the train to Long island theres large animal experiences by the dozen (equine wise). i know it could be expensive though. also you can try the local zoos in NYC, even though its not large animal its different than small animals. Depending on were in NYC maybe try NJ or Penn or CT. Also maybe giving horse carriage rides? and I just searched "new york city horseback riding" in google and found these stables http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_things_to_do/facilities/af_horseback_riding.html . I know mucking stalls isnt glorious but its worth it to get the experience for future internships and hey these stables need equine vets, so you can talk to the vets and maybe schedule shadowing? just suggestions, good luck. I am from Long Island by the way.
 

InfiniVet

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The clinics that will actually bother posting an ad on craigslist are usually larger facilities, who can be more picky with hiring and so will lean towards certified/experienced techs. Just start calling up clinics everywhere.
Maybe ask to go along with your friend next time his/her dog needs annuals and when you're there strike up conversation with the Veterinarian? Smaller clinics might not even require any experience - just "a strong back and a weak mind" ;) so that they can custom train you. Or start off doing kennels.

Your school could have a Pre-Vet society, dedicated to helping out folks just like you. If not, start one yourself. THAT will look good on the app =)

Volunteer like crazy. Join organizations like AQHA, GRCA, etc. Shadow Vets.

Check your city's job listings.

My first job I ever had, I went to the city's job bank, browsed through the listings and found "Animal Shelter Worker." I was hired at 15 with no experience making $18.50/hr with full health benefits working 40 hrs a week lol...yeah... that didn't last long, but man it was a great learning experience, and it got my foot in the door at many other places.

So, ya never know =)
 

4theanimals

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Re: large animal/equine experience: I don't know New York at all. But one way I got great experience was by volunteering with therapeutic riding. Most don't care if you have any previous horse experience. You may groom, tack and lead horses. And there is usually a vet who works with the horses that you can watch too. Here is a link to the listing of NARHA (North American Riding for the Handicapped Association) approved riding centers in New York. http://www.narha.org/Centers/center_state_search.asp

Re: genereal experience. I too began volunteering at a veterinary office. I was fifteen at the time and showed up with a resume in hand and dressed professionally. I had to go to a lot of practices but one of them eventually took me on as a volunteer. Within a month I was a paid assistant. I worked there for two years. I also can highly recommend the shelter route too. The vet experience will depend on the shelter though. I have been involved in the medical center of our county shelter for almost four years now. It's great experience where you get to learn about "herd health", emergency medicine and a lot of gerontology (at least at my shelter).
 

Moonpaw

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I've been able to manage some small animal experience, but it's getting serious large animal experience that's the problem. I go to school in NYC, so I need something that's accessible by (preferably) the subway--the LIRR is kind of expensive for volunteering at something. Although I live in LI, I don't have a car, so again, getting around within a reasonable amount of time is the issue.

I actually considered starting a pre-vet club at my school, because the pre-professional office doesn't really know that much about getting into vet school, but I gave up on that and started a facebook group instead.

Another stupid thing is that a lot of large places (zoos, large animal hospitals (as in the hospital is large), etc.) that have official volunteer programs require serious time commitments that I can't make as a full-time student, and they're not very willing to bend the rules for me when there are plenty of people who can follow their rules.

*sigh* I know I shouldn't get discouraged, but after trying multiple times to get jobs or volunteering positions, having a great interview where the vet really seems to like you, and then being told "we're sorry, but there's no space," I just need some place to rant.

Anyways, thanks to everyone who did come up with suggestions--I'll definitely try them and hope something works!
 

kate_g

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Is there anyone who knows how to get decent large animal experience living in NYC?
Racetracks? Dunno if there are any in NYC proper, but maybe something you could get to by subway.

If you want to show the vet schools you're really hardcore, figure out who the USDA inspector is for the local meat packing plants - there must still be a packing district in NYC, no? Lots of USDA inspectors are vets, and shadowing one could be a great experience.
 

kate_g

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There is no animal shelter that is so well-funded, well-staffed, and under-occupied that they would turn away free help.

Plus, as a lot of shelters operate somewhat under the radar licensing-wise, you'll probably get to do an awful lot of stuff right from the start that you'd never be allowed to do with owned animals at a clinic.
 

KittenKiller

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Is there anyone who knows how to get decent large animal experience living in NYC? I've tried calling a stable in Brooklyn about volunteering, and I've left at least three messages with people, but the woman in charge hasn't called me back, and it's been well over a week. I also tried an equine hospital, but to make a long story short, they sort of screwed my whole summer.

Get out of nyc! Thats what I did. There are a TON of international opportunity to work with horses and cows and get worked to the bone on slaves wages (and have a good time doing it, really). There are probably things to do in the states, too, but most things I found wanted me to pay or didnt pay at all.

Jessica
 

Moonpaw

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There is no animal shelter that is so well-funded, well-staffed, and under-occupied that they would turn away free help.
Totally true. I was talking about big hospitals and private practices and such.

Plus, as a lot of shelters operate somewhat under the radar licensing-wise, you'll probably get to do an awful lot of stuff right from the start that you'd never be allowed to do with owned animals at a clinic.
Again, very true. I volunteer at a cat shelter nearby, and we definitely do stuff that volunteers without formal training technically shouldn't be doing, but under the circumstances we have no other choice. It's a great way to learn how to deal with angry/semi-feral cats as well.
 

mistifical

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My first "animal experience," aside from being a pet owner, was part time work at a small pet store.

I then became curious about the veterinary field and looked into the vet. tech. training program at a local community college. In order to be accepted into the program, you had to have some veterinary experience and take an introductory course. I took the introductory course, and one of my classmates recommended that I look into getting a job at the practice that I work for today.

I suggest looking into (not necessarily applying to... unless of course you want to) some of the vet tech or vet assistant training programs in your area. Somebody involved with the program should be able to advise you on practices that will take on volunteers or employees with no prior experience, especially those that require that the students have veterinary experience prior to applying to their program.

Good luck!

Also... incase nobody has already mentioned it... but it probably already has come up... try to assist one of your college profs with their research! Schools like to see that you have a variety of experiences, and if you're having trouble getting vet experience now, maybe some research experience might make you stand out a little more than other applicants when you send in your resume to get vet experience. Depending on where you live, large animal experience may be difficult to come by, but definitely try to get some... even if its not veterinary. Varied experience is definitely where my application is lacking and will likely be what schools recommend I improve on if I reapply.
 

Boxsterluv

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A lot of sound advice has been given already; I just wanted to add one more thing... Some people find it beneficial to print out several copies of their resume and then go physically visit every place that you are interested in, be it a veterinary office/hospital, animal shelter, pet store, whatever. Actually showing up shows a lot, and by being dressed appropriately and looking professional, you're selling yourself a lot better than your resume could alone. When you go to vet hospitals, it has been suggested that you ask to speak with the doctor. If you leave the resume with the receptionist, it is less likely that the doctor will see it, but if you ask to speak to the doctor him/herself, you will get the chance to be in front of him/her, put your resume in his/her hands, and actually say, "I want to work with you" or something. I agree that volunteering is the best start, then go from there.
 

sambone

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I'm procrastinating writing a lab report now! Haha...
anyhow, I totally feel your pain - I had a ton of trouble with this too, especially b/c I work FT, go to school and don't have a car, so the times/places I could volunteer were really limited.

I'm pretty shy about going into clinics (tried it a couple times and got shot down) so I emailed a vet who works for the local university explaining a bit about myself and asking if he knew of other vets willing to take volunteers/shadowers. He invited me to shadow him, and while shadowing him I met employees from a local shelter who got me into the medical center there. If i'd gone the regular shelter volunteer route it would have taken a lot longer. To be honest, the shadowing was pretty awkward b/c I wasnt allowed to help out at all and I felt like I was in the way more than anything, but I'm so glad I did it because it got me great connections.

Also, definitely try volunteering in a research lab. I'm training a volunteer right now how to do certain types of rodent surgeries!
 

thereservoirdog

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thanks everyone

I have another question. What can a vet who specialized in wildlife do? Besides a wildlife rehabilitation clinic?
 

kate_g

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I have another question. What can a vet who specialized in wildlife do? Besides a wildlife rehabilitation clinic?

Park service/dept. of interior and USDA to name two likely areas off the top of my head. Academic research, of course, if you're so inclined. Work for logging companies doing the same types of forestry/management stuff that you'd probably do with the park service, if you want to go the sell-your-soul-for-loan repayment route... ;)
 
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