marycatherine

working on the pre-reqs
Nov 14, 2009
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So I just got a call I wasn't expecting-- Sea World is offering me a job working at one of their summer camps. While camp counseling isnt animal-related, from what I've heard on your off days you get to help with animal-things.

However this summer I was planning on taking both Chem 101 and 102 (my only pre-req so far is the first Biology course, but I've got everything scheduled so I can fit in the classes in the next two years.) Additionally I won't be able to make any money if I work there (and might end up having to borrow money from my parents.)

I can't believe I'd ever have to say no to working at Sea World... but if I take classes this summer I could feasibly apply to my in-state this fall. (I was planning on applying in Fall 2011, and if I go to Sea World I can still apply then.)

Any advice, SDN? Both of my parents don't want me to go, so my house is a bit biased. My dad has been telling me that while working at Sea World sounds amazing, my dream isn't just to be a camp counselor. But I keep thinking about how amazing an experience it would be, and how awesome it would look on my application. Should I just buckle-down for the pre-reqs? Or should I take the opportunity to live in Orlando for two months?

If it makes any difference, my weakest point is my grades-- they aren't very pretty, though I have a decent explanation and only recently switched to pre-vet. I've got a great job at a vet's office, and my boss said she would let me go to Sea World and keep my job if it's what I wanted to do.
 

sumstorm

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so...do you enjoy working with kids? and will the pay cover the expenses? I think that would determine the decison.

Do not ever count on access to additional oppurtunities unless they are spelled out in your contract. it takes one person to cause the entire access to change...and that person could be another volunteer or counselor screwing up; a kid or parent griping, or a change in management anywhere within the organization.

The only other thing is if camp counselor tends to be an opening position into other jobs (ie next summer you would be in the kitchen or with the animals.) I know our counselors hardly ever went to other positons unless they had another connection.
 

marycatherine

working on the pre-reqs
Nov 14, 2009
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so...do you enjoy working with kids? and will the pay cover the expenses? I think that would determine the decison.

Do not ever count on access to additional oppurtunities unless they are spelled out in your contract. it takes one person to cause the entire access to change...and that person could be another volunteer or counselor screwing up; a kid or parent griping, or a change in management anywhere within the organization.

The only other thing is if camp counselor tends to be an opening position into other jobs (ie next summer you would be in the kitchen or with the animals.) I know our counselors hardly ever went to other positons unless they had another connection.
I definitely do enjoy working with kids (worked summer camps for 2.5 years and have done tutoring programs for 7 years... I was going to be a teacher before the switch to vet).

The money is one of the biggest issues. I think I could manage to live paycheck-to-paycheck there, though if I stayed at home I would be banking a lot more money, which would make the future classes easier to take. My parents have been nice and offered to pay for some of the courses, though I'm not sure how much they're willing to pay if they think I'm not serious-- dad thinks that my going to Sea World is just for fun. EDIT: Which I guess is the root of the problem-- I've always wanted to work at SeaWorld just as the sort of childhood dream, and I do think it will be incredibly fun, so I guess I'm trying to swing it to also help my application.

I do know that there is some handling involved, as the children are introduced to animals and whatnot, however I agree that it won't be many hours. I also know they sometimes hire the counselors to do animal care related jobs after the summer is over-- I've heard of many animal trainers who started as counselors. However I won't be staying after the summer, since I need to take courses, so this almost doesn't apply to me.
 
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smilin1590

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My parents have been nice and offered to pay for some of the courses, though I'm not sure how much they're willing to pay if they think I'm not serious-- dad thinks that my going to Sea World is just for fun.
I know sometimes it's hard to listen to your parents but you will have so much debt after undergrad and vet school that I personally would not pass up any opportunity of someone who wants to pay for my schooling (wish I knew someone LOL)
I do know that there is some handling involved, as the children are introduced to animals and whatnot, however I agree that it won't be many hours. I also know they sometimes hire the counselors to do animal care related jobs after the summer is over-- I've heard of many animal trainers who started as counselors. However I won't be staying after the summer, since I need to take courses, so this almost doesn't apply to me.
Also since you would not be staying past the summer it probably won't be as worth it as you maybe hope it will be. Why don't you take your summer classes, somewhere in between here visit sea world on vacation if at all possible, and try to get diverse experiences closer to where you live (plus this way you can save up $$$ for a little summer trip to sea world if you really wanted to just go and visit) Just my two cents, keep it or sweep it. Good luck in your decision:thumbup:
 

that redhead

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You and I are in roughly the same boat, as I recall: lower GPA, good experiences. I actually even asked a really similar question a while back when an awesome opportunity popped up for summer work. I decided I was going to buckle down and get some more classes under my belt to a. get the last of the pre-reqs started and b. hopefully boost my GPA. Believe me, I know it's hard to pass something awesome up but it's in your best interest.

And to be super honest, even though its under the name Sea World, you're still working as a camp counselor which isn't necessarily the best experience ever. If it were training their dolphins or shadowing their vet or something superduperawesomelyepic, it would be harder to turn down. Although leadership and education are also important on a resume, I think this isn't really something that should overshadow getting more courses done!
 

GellaBella

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Personally, at this point, I would stay home and take the classes.

While working at SeaWorld sounds cool I just don't think you're going to get enough animal experience to make it worth your while. Additionally it would be only animal experience not vet experience, which while still valuable is not SO important (in my opinion, can't speak for the adcoms there).

I think if you need to bump up your GPA then you should focus on that, plus having your parents willing to pay for some of your classes is huge and you should take advantage of that.

Save SeaWorld for an internship/externship experience when you can actually be involved in animal care.
 

marycatherine

working on the pre-reqs
Nov 14, 2009
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Thanks everyone, I think it's what I knew I should do, but needed more people that just my parents to tell me so. I have trouble because my parents are always the super rational ones and my boyfriend is the one saying to take the crazy experience and I'm stuck in the middle, whew! :laugh:

Here's to knocking out gen chem this summer. :scared:
 

smilin1590

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Here's to knocking out gen chem this summer. :scared:
I'm right there with you! Woot Woot for Gen Chem 1 and 2 in the summer. Now I know who to find on the forum if I'm confuzzled. We can share our summer chem love together LOL!:laugh:
 

rileydog

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Jan 20, 2010
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Sounds like you already made your decision but I would try to work at Sea World if it was me. If you want to do an animal/vet internship/externship or work there in the future, I would see this experience as a step in the door. What if you are competing for a spot against someone equal to you in every way, but you had this summer experience? Who do you think they would hire?

I did the college program at Disney the spring semester of my freshman year. I worked in a restaurant which obviously has nothing to do with animals. But it was a great and fun experience and since my dream is to work at Animal Kingdom, I hope that my time there may help me in the future.

Is taking online classes an option? Maybe not chemistry but some other prereqs or classes you need to take? That is what I did that semester. I know money is an issue, so is it possible to get a part time job and be a counselor too? Good luck, I know this is a big decision to make :)
 

PearlDVM

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Jul 16, 2009
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i can see why this is a tough one - and here's my experience, and why I'd choose classes.

I just got in this year, on my third try. My first real animal experience was actually working in a marine mammal lab at my state university, directly with the sea lions (we're talking VERY hands-on: training, feeding, brushing their teeth). My experience there was crucial in my decision to go to vet school - but after five interview experiences at various schools, i was surprised that no one seemed that interested in the marine animal time. When I asked one adcom person, I found out that it was a good experience - but not as important to the schools as time with an actual vet. I think it added to the breadth of my experience, and gave me insight into animal research and wildlife - but, again- my questions in the interviews were all about vet experience and my lower GPA. Now - if your interest is in wildlife vet med- maybe you should call sea world and ask about a part time volunteer animal caretaker position. I'm in california, and there are quite a few orgs out here that do take on such volunteers - who are VERY hands on.

I'd say - focus on the grades first. That was my greatest challenge in getting into vet school, despite some great experiences. They want you to have those moments with the vets and the animals so that you get perspective - that you understand what you'll be doing as a vet and why.

That said . . . if it tears you up inside when you think about passing up this opportunity at sea world - do it, even if it means it takes you more time to get to a point where you're ready to apply - educationally, experience-wise, and financially. I think that it is better to take the long road, and know you saw everything - than to take the short cut and wonder what you missed.
 

PearlDVM

UC Davis c/o 2014
Jul 16, 2009
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also - if you do decide to go ahead with the camp thing . . . you can always use it as an example of your teaching abilities - and enthusiasm for sharing animal info - after all, a vet spends a huge portion of their time educating their clients. :)
 

sumstorm

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What if you are competing for a spot against someone equal to you in every way, but you had this summer experience? Who do you think they would hire?
This depends. very few places offer graduated experiences. so you would have to be an amazing employee + the staff would need to think you have the skills/mentality/etc for the other position...and the staff will have to be ageeabe!

If grades are questionable, focus there & get vet experience....and even volunteer in an exotics environment....that will help in nabbing an internship more in my professional zoo experience (including hiring interns & councelors, but not for Sea World.)
 

TractorKid

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1. I have not read this whole thread and
2. I realize no one asked for my opinion but I'm giving it anyway

As someone who is an older student, let me just say that summer fun opportunities don't come up that often (at least for me) and if this is something you want to do, just do it! The last thing you want is for it to be 6 years down the road and you're busy busy busy and you think - "remember when I could have worked at Sea World? That would have been cool."

Anyways - just playing the other side.
Good luck with your decision.:luck:
 

sumstorm

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As someone who is an older student, let me just say that summer fun opportunities don't come up that often (at least for me) and if this is something you want to do, just do it! The last thing you want is for it to be 6 years down the road and you're busy busy busy and you think - "remember when I could have worked at Sea World? That would have been cool."
LOL! Just a reminder, Tractorkid...you can STILL apply and be hired to work in such places as a camp counselor and have fun! I know the positions are targeted at college students, but that is because they are temp and minimal pay w/out benefits. My favorite hires for camp? Retirees and stay at home parents returning to work!
 

TractorKid

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LOL! Just a reminder, Tractorkid...you can STILL apply and be hired to work in such places as a camp counselor and have fun! I know the positions are targeted at college students, but that is because they are temp and minimal pay w/out benefits. My favorite hires for camp? Retirees and stay at home parents returning to work!
You are correct sumstorm. But I made the assumption that after finishing her veterinary degree the OP would be working full time or a regular part-time position and not have free summers to do this (and probably doesn't want to wait until retirement :laugh:). I guess she could do it during her the summer between first and second year? But the opportunity might not be there later.
As I said - just playing the other side.
Some of my best summers in college were spent working in the education department at my local zoo. I wouldn't want anyone to miss something that fun because they are worried they will "fall behind"
 

marycatherine

working on the pre-reqs
Nov 14, 2009
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To be fair, I've had a lot of fun summers already. :laugh: I'm about to graduate school but need the two years of sciences to apply to vet school. All through undergrad I worked summer camps and went on a hiking trip through Spain one summer, so I'm thinking it might be time to finally buckle down.

Plus I realized that if I take these chemistry courses over the summer, then I can apply to my IS this fall!
 

dyachei

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I personally would take the Sea world job. It is a huge benefit to you to have experience interacting with people, even if they are kids. Maybe this is just coming off of a practice management class where we were told that having experience in customer service is huge for finding jobs after graduation. Vet schools also like to know you have people skills.

The rest of it seems like it would increase the breadth of your experience since it's pretty hard to get marine mammal experience.

Still, it's a hard decision.
 

purplesaurus

I'm still waiting...
Mar 5, 2010
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Here's my take on the situation.

You have said your grades are a weak spot. If you stay home for the summer and take chemistry, then apply for vet school this fall, you will have weak grades to show to adcoms. Sure, you might get As in chemistry, but if you are about to graduate, you likely have too many credit hours for two classes to improve your cGPA much.

Also, from what I read, I take it you still have some pre-reqs to finish. My pre-vet advisor told me adcoms like to see as many pre-reqs (or at least upper-level hard sciences) as possible, with good grades, so they know you can handle the course load. To me, this say you should hold off a year before applying. That way, you will have more good science grades under your belt.

So I say, take the Sea World job! It sounds like something you will really enjoy, and you might get a chance for some unique animal experiences.

I know it's really exciting that you might meet the minimums to apply this fall, but you have to look at how you are as a candidate as a whole. I was in a similar position a few years ago (well, no Sea World opportunity, but still...). I had a few pre-reqs done, and I figured I could apply and then cram in the majority of my pre-reqs.

However, my advisor pointed out that all I would have to show for myself academically was an unimpressive GPA (3.25, I think). I put things on hold to take my pre-reqs and other classes, and my last 45 GPA was something like a 3.8. No, I was not offered a spot this year (wait listed, though!), but I can tell you it was definitely not due to academics.
 
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