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LydiaC

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I am really excited to have several volunteer opportunities this summer. I am applying to volunteer at the Dallas Zoo, at Equest therapeutic riding, and at Rogers Wildlife Center, which specializes in bird rehabilitation.

What has been your favorite volunteer experience? Have you ever had a negative experience in a volunteer position, and if so, how did you deal with it? Do you have any recommendations for people seeking volunteer experience? How do you think volunteer experience influences resume quality and veterinary opportunities in the future? How did volunteering prepare you to work in the field of veterinary medicine?
 
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dyachei

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Act like you're applying for a job - dress well, interview well, be polite, and bring a resume. I think they are super important. Vet med is a small world, exotics/zoo is even smaller. Everyone knows everyone. You want to build relationships not destroy them.

Volunteering allowed me to assess what I really enjoyed and what I did not. It allowed me to get hands on experience in smaller amounts than working.

I did not have a negative experience.

Favorite was at a clinic I worked with later. I was given more opportunities to watch and assist with surgeries than I would have if I were employed. The one vet also did house calls and I tagged along. It was excellent.
 

Posey

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Since the OP is in Dallas...
I always wanted to volunteer with In Sync Exotics in Wylie. If the zoo doesn't work out, look them up. They have a summer internship program.


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Devastating

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I guess out of what I've done so far, I most enjoyed intern/volunteering for an exotic animal facility during my last year of undergrad (the sort that will bring animals to educational presentations at schools and such, as well as hold public events on the premises--think they were also pursuing wildlife rehab licensure too). It is a somewhat young business that was just starting to really get off the ground when I joined, so they needed lots of volunteer help and we all got many opportunities for hands-on stuff in addition to the facility renovations and general grunt work. I was there for a relatively short span of time since I graduated early, but I still got a lot of experience both on the animal side and in dealing with the public. I think this has helped a lot as far as getting me/my resume noticed, a lot of interviewers were interested in my wildlife/exotics experiences. I've been accepted to an internship at the Texas State Aquarium (in the bird/mammal department), I think the public side helped a lot with that. I'll be starting next month, really looking forward to it! Can't think of anything really negative from any of my volunteer experiences.

While in undergrad, the best way to find volunteer opportunities was via the Pre-Vet Club or other relevant student organizations. Since graduating, I've mostly had to scour online job boards and such for internships to apply to. If seeking an opportunity in person (for shadowing at a local clinic, etc.), Dyachei's advice is spot-on. Zoo/wildlife internships may ask you to send an email/resume or fill out an application.
 

sheltermed

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Anyone do anything cool that wasn't animal or veterinary related? I'm trying to come up with something to do this summer in that category!
 

Devastating

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Anyone do anything cool that wasn't animal or veterinary related? I'm trying to come up with something to do this summer in that category!
if it doesn't relate to animals it's not cool...right?

Haha, all I can think of is I used to be in college Quidditch, and for 2 years I traveled to NYC for the "World Cup" national competition, the second year as a volunteer. Of course you're likely not gonna be able to just travel to wherever it is the world cup is this year (and I think it already happened a month or so ago?? according to Snapchat, anyway), but maybe volunteering for a similar public event?
 

sheltermed

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if it doesn't relate to animals it's not cool...right?

Haha, all I can think of is I used to be in college Quidditch, and for 2 years I traveled to NYC for the "World Cup" national competition, the second year as a volunteer. Of course you're likely not gonna be able to just travel to wherever it is the world cup is this year (and I think it already happened a month or so ago?? according to Snapchat, anyway), but maybe volunteering for a similar public event?

I've done a couple of public events that were meant to introduce STEM careers to young students. I'm trying to find something that could potentially give me more hours and make me more "special." A professor told me that my experiences are great, but I haven't done anything "special." (I have a lot of diverse veterinary/animal/research hours, but it's not good enough to make me stand out, apparently..)
 

WildZoo

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I've done a couple of public events that were meant to introduce STEM careers to young students. I'm trying to find something that could potentially give me more hours and make me more "special." A professor told me that my experiences are great, but I haven't done anything "special." (I have a lot of diverse veterinary/animal/research hours, but it's not good enough to make me stand out, apparently..)
Not to discourage being special, but I wouldn't go chasing experiences just because. If you find something non-veterinary or animal related that you want to do, then great, go for it. Would have to see your exact stats but there are a lot of ways to make yourself stand out. The only "special" thing I did was decide to be a fiction writer, and that was because I wanted to, not because I thought it would give me a leg up. It was a point of interest in interviews and maybe something that made me stand out, but it's not like there aren't a billion other fiction writers in the world.
 

Devastating

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Hm...I wonder what kinds of experiences (mostly of animal/vet but non-animal too) would be considered super "unique" in admissions. It's hard for me to think of any off the top of my head because even when you think of "cool"/not-as-common things like exotics or any volunteering in another country or something, adcoms have likely seen it dozens of times and probably wouldn't immediately connect that alone to an applicant being stand-out.
 
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sheltermed

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Not to discourage being special, but I wouldn't go chasing experiences just because. If you find something non-veterinary or animal related that you want to do, then great, go for it. Would have to see your exact stats but there are a lot of ways to make yourself stand out. The only "special" thing I did was decide to be a fiction writer, and that was because I wanted to, not because I thought it would give me a leg up. It was a point of interest in interviews and maybe something that made me stand out, but it's not like there aren't a billion other fiction writers in the world.

I wasn't clear. It's not the only reason why I'm seeking such an experience, and I most certainly wouldn't do something just to give me a leg up. I've had relatively decent experiences at a nursing home when my great grandmother was in one. I wouldn't mind going there and making friends with the residents, for example. I made it sound as though it would only be for my application, but it's definitely not the case.
 

WildZoo

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I wasn't clear. It's not the only reason why I'm seeking such an experience, and I most certainly wouldn't do something just to give me a leg up. I've had relatively decent experiences at a nursing home when my great grandmother was in one. I wouldn't mind going there and making friends with the residents, for example. I made it sound as though it would only be for my application, but it's definitely not the case.
Well like I said, if you find something unrelated that you want to do, then great, especially if you're satisfied with your vet experience hours. I just wouldn't worry too much about not being special enough. Everyone's a unique snowflake, ya know ;)
 
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dyachei

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Anyone do anything cool that wasn't animal or veterinary related? I'm trying to come up with something to do this summer in that category!
I tutored refugees for 1-2 semesters. It was a lot of fun and those kids were super motivated, just didn't understand English so well.
 
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Jess Monster

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What has been your favorite volunteer experience?

In 2010, I volunteered with a group who put on a equestrian camp. This organization was a new non-profit start up that was looking to provide riding lessons and other equestrian-education based services to under served intercity children. They only did the camp for one summer (it was very expensive to maintain), but it was very successful and garnered a lot local and state news coverage. I got to help the children with the various craft projects and eventually led the projects and worked with another volunteer to make materials to aid in the educational component of the camp. I enjoyed it most because the people in charge were sincerely thankful for the help and treated me like part of the group. They let me take over in situations where they recognized me as having the most skills and it worked out really well. The kids loved it and I still have communications with some of the people I worked with there.

I'm currently volunteering with a vet who does wildlife education programs with her small non-profit. I haven't done enough yet to say with any certainty how things are going to go, but I'm hopeful that it will turn into a great experience. She seems very nice and she has a lot of interesting wild animals she's collected (animals that can't be rehabilitated).

Have you ever had a negative experience in a volunteer position, and if so, how did you deal with it?

The recurrent negative experience in some of my volunteer positions has to do with people in charge not warming up to you or bothering to learn your name, even when you make efforts to interact and spend a considerable amount of time doing work. The first private shelter I volunteered at for a couple years in high school was one such experience. There were two women in charge. One was very personable and learned my name right away. She was helpful in training and suggesting schedules. The other woman actually owned the property, was not particularly pleasant, and would spend all the time in her office. Since I was in school and volunteering in the evenings, I largely had to deal with the latter person and that became a chore in itself. This shelter is no longer operating.

In regards to how I dealt with those issues, I just did my work and put up with this woman. I knew that I would be leaving for college at some point so I wasn't going to be "stuck" there forever... and I was doing it to help the dogs and cats.
 

LDK_93

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Favorite volunteering experience:

Working in South Africa at a cheetah breeding facility. Cheetahs have always been my favorite animals so it was a dream come true! Four weeks in South Africa working with hand-raised cheetahs, walking the epileptic serval, and trying to sweet-talk the very mean caracal. (My avatar is a picture I took of one of the cheetahs). It was more animal-care related than veterinary/medicine related, but it was awesome and something I would totally recommend!

How did volunteering prepare you to work in the field of veterinary medicine?

I mean, I am certainly not yet working in the field (only starting first year of vet school this fall), but my volunteering has helped me get used to working with people. I certainly got some good medical-related experience at a wildlife rehabilitation center (which was definitely useful and very interesting) but to me the most valuable experience was working at a small veterinary clinic and dealing with all the clients, phone calls, scheduling, etc. I definitely needed the people-experience! I definitely recommend not only focusing on animal-centered volunteering, but also on opportunities when you can work with people, because if you go into a regular practice you'll be spending a LOT of time working with people/owners.
 

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Anyone do anything cool that wasn't animal or veterinary related? I'm trying to come up with something to do this summer in that category!
I participate in historical reenactments! Dress up as people from whatever time period the event is for and give tours and act as a character from that time for all the visitors coming through. It's fun to not only learn about history but then help teach people about it, and the costumes are fun too. :p Once the local historical society did a wedding reception reenactment for the character who used to live in the historic home that I usually portray. I had a 1920s wedding dress made just to fit me! :)
 
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vetmedhead

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Anyone do anything cool that wasn't animal or veterinary related? I'm trying to come up with something to do this summer in that category!
Do whatever seems fun! I always enjoyed activities where I got to help out people in the community - which also, conveniently, gave me a nice break from vet med sometimes. I've coordinated food drives, participated in food drives (my favorite: trick or treat for cans!), volunteered at 5Ks, painted people's houses, raked people's yards, volunteered at the aquarium (I was in customer services, so no animal contact), and I even volunteered at my local library shelving books for them.
I participate in historical reenactments! Dress up as people from whatever time period the event is for and give tours and act as a character from that time for all the visitors coming through. It's fun to not only learn about history but then help teach people about it, and the costumes are fun too. :p Once the local historical society did a wedding reception reenactment for the character who used to live in the historic home that I usually portray. I had a 1920s wedding dress made just to fit me! :)
You. I like you.
 
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pinkpuppy9

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Anyone do anything cool that wasn't animal or veterinary related? I'm trying to come up with something to do this summer in that category!
I've done a lot of volunteering with special needs children, mainly with mental disabilities. So rewarding for everyone involved. Can't recommend it enough.
 
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sheltermed

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I've done a lot of volunteering with special needs children, mainly with mental disabilities. So rewarding for everyone involved. Can't recommend it enough.

That sounds really great. Where have you been able to find opportunities like that? I know of a few local places by me where I might be able to do that. I've always wanted to. I am going to start working with middle schoolers with learning disabilities, but that won't be until the Fall :(
 

pinkpuppy9

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That sounds really great. Where have you been able to find opportunities like that? I know of a few local places by me where I might be able to do that. I've always wanted to. I am going to start working with middle schoolers with learning disabilities, but that won't be until the Fall :(
I went through my local ARC chapter, but you can offer help with summer programs as well! Summer camps are upon us, lol. My favorite part about ARC was the continuity of the programs, though. You have the little kids, but you still get to see the 'graduated' kids who are venturing into the real world too.
 

genny

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My favorite volunteering experience was the summer I helped out at a local nature center. They had animals housed mainly indoors that were native to the state, but couldn't be released back into the wild. It was like a mini-zoo. So I helped with enclosure cleaning and food prep and basic stuff like that. But the best part was during the middle of my shift, when I got to staff the info desk. I also like to draw, so they had me designing a coloring book featuring nature center animals and an activity book about dinosaurs for their summer camp. I would work on those at the info desk, or near one of the animal enclosures. Elementary-aged kids would come in and ask me the best questions, it was just a lot of fun. I remember being asked if the turtles thought they were flying in the water, and if the frog was upset because he had to eat bugs. A lot of the kids had never seen any of the animals before, and their sense of wonder was infectious. I'd do it again in a heartbeat if I still lived in that state. The last time I visited, they were still using the coloring book and activity book I made years ago. Made me feel good that they got so much out of my free labor!
 
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lee chase

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Last summer I did a work experience trip with Loop Abroad in Thailand. It was pretty awesome, got to hang out with elephants and the vets were really nice and we all got to draw blood and learn vetty skills like that and even helped out with surgeries. It is really expensive but totally worth it. Got to go zip lining through the jungle too which was one of the highlights. I originally decided to drop that kind of cash to 'volunteer' because I wanted to have something that stood out on my application to vet school. I figured everyone volunteered locally, but not many took the plunge and went abroad. I'm thinking about doing the whole semester program next year, I have to look into it a bit more but ive heard I could even get credit for it. Has anyone else done Loop Abroad? especially interested in anyone who has done the semester program.
 

johannydalia

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Last summer I did a work experience trip with Loop Abroad in Thailand. It was pretty awesome, got to hang out with elephants and the vets were really nice and we all got to draw blood and learn vetty skills like that and even helped out with surgeries. It is really expensive but totally worth it. Got to go zip lining through the jungle too which was one of the highlights. I originally decided to drop that kind of cash to 'volunteer' because I wanted to have something that stood out on my application to vet school. I figured everyone volunteered locally, but not many took the plunge and went abroad. I'm thinking about doing the whole semester program next year, I have to look into it a bit more but ive heard I could even get credit for it. Has anyone else done Loop Abroad? especially interested in anyone who has done the semester program.


Hey! I did my last spring semester with loop abroad. It was really amazing. It was 3 months non-stop of hands on experience. I would recommend it! Just let me know any questions you may have, or anything you'd like to know.
 
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