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Sufficient Volunteer/Hands-on Experience

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by MooSuga, Dec 26, 2008.

  1. MooSuga

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    I live in NYC and most of the animals here are mainly in the "small animal" classification. With a vast number of shelters and animal organization, my experience and hands-on experience is limited.

    I tried calling many veterinarians and asked if they accepted volunteers but many doesn't.

    So far, my experience with animals are from volunteering with animal adoptions, kennel cleaning, dog walking, cat socializing, animal neutering, and as a zoo docent (some animal interactions). I am a bit worried about the level of animals experience I am suppose to have when applying for vet school.

    I know diversity in your experience is a great thing, but how many hours of experience is deemed sufficient? I just started volunteering like crazy but the work I am handling is minimum.
     
  2. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    remember that biomedical or research experience also counts. Try to get some of that under your belt at school - either through an internship or with a professor.
     
  3. Groominator

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    for large animal experience, you can try volunteering at a stable. There's the Kensington stable at Prospect Park, there's one off exit 11 on the belt parkway, and Central Park should have one. I don't know what part of NYC you're in, but they exist. But it sounds like you're pretty diversified.
     
  4. ylrebmik

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    well don't forget that there at two different types of volunteering with animals you should be getting under your belt. 1. animal 2. vet

    You sound well diversified. I would just continue doing what your doing and try to get involved with the places you have a lot and really see the ins and outs.

    Good luck!
     
  5. MooSuga

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    yes, i know of the Kinsington stables. I heard about their therapuetic riding program for children with disabilities. Currently, I am so consumed with volunteering for many organization, it's hard trying to fit in another project in my schedule. But I think their program will help me too.
     
  6. MooSuga

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    Thanks alot ylrebmik.

    Experience with animals doesn't seem hard to get. But trying to get experience at an animal hospital and a veterinarian seems a bit more challenging.

    I copied down all the phone numbers of Veterinarian serving in Queens and Manhattan. And I spent 2 weeks calling each of those office and clinics asking to volunteer. Most of them told me that thy will get back to me or others say they aren't interested due to lawsuits and insurance problems.

    Currently, right now....I will try again and contact those veterinarians serving in Queens and Manhattan. Hopefully, I have better luck this time around.
     
  7. MooSuga

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    (sigh) Unfortunately I have no clue how to get my hands dirty with biomedical or research experience. The college I am attending doesn't even offer any types of veterinary courses. My school is really known for it's nursing program and most of it's research projects are generally given to nursing student volunteers.

    Is there any way to gain research/biomedical experience other than a school? How can one go about obtaining such a position? :confused:
     
  8. GellaBella

    GellaBella Penn Vet V'14
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    I think any type of research will be beneficial, not strictly veterinary-related research.

    I'm currently doing my PhD, and I can almost guarantee, if you go on any university's website, look at the faculty doing research and find someone who's work you are interested in, you can send them an email telling them you would like to volunteer. Attach a resume. Often if they cannot accept you they will email the email to other faculty members and SOMEONE will LOVE to have a free set of hands in the lab.

    But! You need to be willing to put in the time and be a quick learner. You would probably need to commit time (doesn't have to be a whole day) on consecutive days since often times you do an experiment one day and analyze the results the next day (I work in Microbiology, this is the case for bacteria, it may not be the case for work on eukaryotic cells). Also, most places are willing to train you but time in research is expensive so you will need to prove you can learn things quickly and become an independent member of the lab.

    Its not really as scary as it sounds and it should be easy to find a lab to begin work in. Good luck!
     
  9. MooSuga

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    GellaBella, thanks so much for the advice. I will surely follow and try to see it through. I am browsing different colleges/universities in NYC and hoping to come across the different types of research projects they might need assistance with.

    I'm keeping my fingers crossed. :oops::xf:
     
  10. Groominator

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    I've actually had the best luck showing up in person at clinics and asking to volunteer. In fact I've tried it four times and its worked thrice (AMC just had me fill out a form and never got back to me). It seems like Manhattan clinics would be the more difficult ones - although they would give a much more varied and interesting experience, methinks.

    Also i assume that since you're doing several volunteer gigs at once, once you gain a good amount of hours at one, you can switch it to something else, therein diversifying.
     
  11. mstweetie

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    hey MooSuga! have you tried/can you take on a part-time job at a vet clinic? like you mentioned, most vets may not be willing for you to simply "volunteer". it might be best for you to obtain a PT job, know what it's like to work with a vet and at a vet clinic first-hand. If time doesn't allow for a job at the moment, try using the term "shadowing" when asking if you come by the clinic. That might seem a less involved than volunteering, perhaps, to the vet. I've done a couple shadows (spent a day at a clinic and just followed the vet, did minor restraint, etc, but didn't necessarily volunteer my time to help or clean or anything like that) hope it helps!! good luck!
     
  12. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    I agree with mtsweetie - a job is probably the way to go. See if anyone needs help at their front desk or cleaning kennels, then work your way up. I've found a couple of jobs on Craigslist. You might try looking there.

    Also, GellaBella pretty much hit the nail on the head with the research stuff. It definitely does not need to be veterinary related!
     
  13. Els9547

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    I would for sure use the words shadowing and part-time job when you go to these clinics...I went to one clinic and asked about volunteering and they turned me away, but two days later when I went back and asked if they needed any part-time help I was interviewed on the spot and hired as a technician within two days..for some odd reason it seems to make a difference...
     
  14. MooSuga

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    I would like to thank everyone for your insightful help. :)

    But with what GellaBella has said about research, its seems that some of these projects require some type of experience or a degree in a related field.

    But nonetheless, I will keep on trying to look for a research-related position.

    I understand diversity is good, but also you need to prove that your a well-rounded person as well. When it comes to the hours that are involved with the different fields of volunteering. How do you know when you have enough hours?

    Also, I am assuming its great to have more experience in the area you would like to specialize in.
     
  15. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    Research can require advanced degrees or experience, but it certainly doesn't have to. I got research experience in undergrad simply by speaking to a professor. He wanted summer help with one of his projects and me and two other students of his provided that help. I was still in school, had never done research before, and certainly didn't have any advanced training in what we were studying (it was sort of an ecology project.) Anyways, what I'm saying is that you don't know if you can get the experience until you ask. Also some projects are more intensive than others, so check out what your profs are researching and find something that interests you. Then send them an email.

    There are summer research programs for undergrads at the NIH, too, if you're interested. You may have to travel, but I believe they give you a living expense stipend. You can check it out here: http://www.training.nih.gov/student/ The NIH has a lot of cool training opportunities and they're studying basically everything health related you can think of.

    I think a lot of pre-vets who're just starting their experience make the mistake of thinking they need a MILLION hours of experience directly following behind and learning skills from a vet. That's just not true. Any good research experience you get is going to be helpful - even if it's totally unrelated to animals. Likewise, experience cleaning kennels or mucking out stalls is helpful, regardless of whether a vet is involved or even if you get to directly handle the animals much. These little bits of experience can provide you with the stepping stones you need to get more and more or better and better quality stuff.
    </soapbox>

    Sorry, that wasn't directed just at you, it was more of a general thing.

    I'm not sure if getting more experience in your desired specialty is helpful so much as gettibng lots of different experience is. I mean, you don't want to walk into your interviews saying you'd love to do large animal having never really looked at a cow, but you also don't want to box yourself in to, say, shelter medicine now and get lots of that experience when you could be out working with horses or zoo animals or whatever. Basically, you want to get lots of different experience. As many different kinds as possible. That way, you can actually make an informed decision about what you're interested in and, when you get to interviews, you can speak to why you'd like to work in this or that part of the field. Plus, it gives you a broad view of veterinary medicine and all the opportunities provided by it. Definitely a good thing.

    For being "well rounded," I'd say just do things that interest you. Don't go out of your way to join organizations just to pad your resume. You'll wear yourself thin participating in activities you have no interest in while getting veterinary and animal and research experience and getting good grades. Just find some things you enjoy and work on those. Leadership positions in clubs probably look better than just being a member, but be sure to only take on what you can handle and keep things in balance. (I say this as someone who's constantly over extended and whose grades suffered because of it.)

    That was a little disorganized, but hopefully also kinda helpful. Good luck!
     
  16. MooSuga

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    Actually Pandacinny, what you said makes alot of sense. Thanks alot for the website info i will be looking into that.

    thanks for the info, i will be asking around my school to see if any of the professor needs help in their research!
     
  17. GellaBella

    GellaBella Penn Vet V'14
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    Yep, no experience is necessary to get involved in research, just a willingness to learn.

    Most colleges/universities have departmental websites. I'd go and look at the faculty profiles in the Biology dept (or whatever dept you're interested in). They usually describe the faculty research and give an email address. If you see something of interest send of an email to the faculty member.

    We take students with no experience all the time at my university. We have a girl in right now who has no research experience but wants to do a PhD so wants to gain experience before applying. We have several masters students who had no research experience who want to go to medical school.

    It's very common and especially if you're willing to volunteer your time, its a free set of hands in the lab. And who knows? You might even be able to get a middle authorship paper out of it (no guarantees there but you never know).
     
  18. rachroo

    rachroo OSU CVM c/o 2013
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    Do any of you know if one can get research expereince if they no longer attend the univeristy? I just graduated a week and a half ago...if I wanted to volunteer doing research (and learn about the cool things different profs @ my school are working on) is that a viable option?
     
  19. DVMorBust

    DVMorBust UW SVM Class of 2013
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    ratchroo - I don't know the details, but one of the people in our lab over the summer was a HS teacher who wanted to get experience in the field over her vacation. I don't think it was paid - I think she was just helping out, so it's definitely an option at some schools. Probably easiest at your alma mater, since you already know some of the professors, but I find it hard to believe that it would be impossible elsewhere either.
     
  20. MooSuga

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    So for this research experience, what does vet schools look for?
    Are there specific tasks that would appeal more when I apply to vet school?

    What of some of the researching position that I can get is just basic admin tasks? Does that still help with your application?
     
  21. DVMorBust

    DVMorBust UW SVM Class of 2013
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    Schools probably vary quite a bit on what they see as applicable. I can tell you what research experience I have, and it made up the majority of my experience for applications:

    Work in a genetics lab for 1.5 years (basic lab work - running PCRs, histology, spawning fish, etc.)

    Student in a chem lab for summer/fall semester (again, basic lab work - worked with a grad student on helping to find a way to grow bacteria that he was studying)

    Work on a project studying snakes (taking data - catching snakes, weighing, sexing, and measuring)
     
  22. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    Rachroo, if you want something more formalized, you might look into post-baccalaureate training through the NIH. They have a couple of different post-bac training options, but you'd have to have a year set aside. I'm not sure if that would be too much of a time commitment, but it is an option. The website I linked above has all of the NIH student training info. (Sorry to keep plugging the NIH - I work in the area and have met quite a few kids in their IRTA program.)
     
  23. MooSuga

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    Digressing from the subject but does it help to read ahead?

    i have a huge collection of bio, genetic and chem books. i am wondering if it would be beneficial for me to study them independently.

    Back to volunteering, I am possibly hoping to get into the AMC program that they have for students.

    I'm guessing they also might have a research development area that I can lend my volunteering services too as well.

    Thanks for the help guys! you guys rock
     
  24. GellaBella

    GellaBella Penn Vet V'14
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    you don't have to still attend the school to get a volunteer research position. also, you don't have to worry about getting stuck doing "administrative work" , we don't do that in research. you'll learn techniques.

    I think it is more about learning what "Real Research" is all about ( sorry to say it but lab work in college level courses...thats not real research science.) You learn to troubleshoot, you learn to deal with the way research works - which means you learn to deal with disappointment and things not working.
     
  25. littleinky

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    Howdy,

    Just wanted to respond to someone's list of stables in NYC. Kensington Stables in Prospect Park is open but Claremont Stables (near Central Park) closed abruptly 2 years ago. I was a volunteer for the NY Therapeutic Riding classes there for about a year when the stable announced it was closing with 1 week notice. Never did get my letter of volunteering from them:(

    So I have no proof that I have volunteered/worked with horses. I think the way it works is that if you don't have a letter substantiating your volunteering it doesn't count...right?

    Question to the group at large, do riding lessons count towards large animal experience? I can get letters from my instructors of how long I have been riding/ practicing natural horsemanship but does that count?

    Thanks!

    P.S.- I would suggest trying to enquire at the vet hospital or clinic where you take your own pets. IME, it's a lot harder to say no to a client.
     
  26. DVMorBust

    DVMorBust UW SVM Class of 2013
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    littleinky - definitely counts for animal experience. You can use the volunteering for that as well - you don't need to turn in letters for animal experience activities. Contact information is even optional - which is useful when a LOT of my earlier horse experience was with people who have since moved and I have no idea how to track down.
     
  27. Ben and Me

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  28. MooSuga

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    I actually went searching on the 1st link. Although it's for NYC I really didnt see any animal related internships. (maybe I dont know how to read)

    I will keep on searching.
     
  29. Ben and Me

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    At many veterinary schools, biomedical research doesn't have to be specifically animal-related to count as veterinary experience. I'm pretty sure that NC State, for example, allows you to count any biomedical research as veterinary experience. And even if it doesn't count as vet experience, it certainly looks good. The best way to find out for sure is to check out different vet school websites and email the admissions people if you have any questions. They always seemed to appreciate my asking beforehand, as opposed to waiting until the last minute.

    I think NY has pretty strict rules on who can actually restrain/handle animals (I think you have to be a licensed tech) at veterinary practices, so that might be part of the problem with finding clinics that are willing to let you shadow/hang out. You may need to explore options in NJ, CT, etc.
     
  30. MooSuga

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    Ben & Me,

    Your right about NYC being slightly strict with gain hands-on experience. i did come across some clinics that rejected my request. It was due to insurance problems or possible lawsuits. But I know there are many within NYC that are more than willing to help you...I guess, I just got to find the right places.

    I still haven't had any luck with gaining research experience. I basically, emailed all the professors in my school (Hunter CUNY) that are involved with research projects. Most of their labs are full and have no occupancy. (sigh) But considering I have a good 3 years before applying to vet school...I'm sure an opportunity will come across.

    Thanks!!:)
     
  31. Ben and Me

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    I know what you're going through, MooSuga. I emailed/mailed a resume and cover letter to every single veterinary clinic on Manhattan, trying to get a volunteer position for the summer of 2007. I wasn't hired by a single one, and most didn't call me back. Of course, you're at an advantage in that you're actually in NY--you can walk in and speak to the office manager. It's much harder to turn someone down to their face.

    I will say with my two most recent veterinary jobs/volunteer positions, I only got them because of my resume and cover letter...not because I had a ton of experience on there but because it was professional looking (neatly formatted, no grammatical/spelling mistakes). In fact, both people who hired me commented on that, and actually said that was WHY I got hired. So, if your resume is messy and you don't have a professional cover letter, I'd go about fixing that before I applied to anymore clinics. You'd be amazed at what some people think pass for a resume... :eek:

    You may also want to check out positions at the Zoos. I know that volunteers who do a really great job in the Childrens Zoo at the Bronx Zoo are oftentimes asked to apply for volunteer positions at the Wildlife Health Center at the Bronx Zoo. While the Children's Zoo position would only count for animal experience, if you can morph it into a volunteer position with the Zoo Hospital, that would be a unique veterinary experience that few other applicants would have.
     
  32. MooSuga

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    Ben & Me,

    I actually got accepted to working as a zoo docent at Prospect Park. Their volunteer program offers animal handling and care. I will be attending the orientation soon. I am hoping to suck up to the zoo veterinarian with hopes that I can possibly follwo him/her around or gain some special experience.

    I will look up the zoo hospital, had no idea that there was one.

    Since my prior career choice was accounting, I only have experience with accounting related fields. But I only have very few volunteer experience and with animals.

    I'm also going to try out for the AMC, if they reject me...try, try again
     
  33. Ben and Me

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    MooSuga--I sent you a PM. :)
     
  34. NycVet

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    hey MooSuga, didn't see your thread. Im from NYC too, Im in York College CUNY. I noticed that you were looking for some hands on experience with large animals. Try the Therapeutic Riding Academy on the belt parkway (it actually is open) or go for something near Astoria like the Aqueduct. A proff at my school said the racing horses are privately owned, so if they let you in you can score serious hands on experience. I plan on doing, that but later on. And as for the research, try other Cuny schools. At York I got an internship with the FDA and I am going to join a research with a Biochem proff in the spring. But like some members already mentioned you have to demonstrate that you are willing put in some time and pick things up fast.

    Anyway it was nice meeting another new yorker. :D Good luck :thumbup:
     
  35. MooSuga

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    Thanks for the advice. I attend Hunter College, they are well known for their BIG nursing program and have many research opportunities but all of them are filled up. :(

    I will look at other CUNY schools and see what they have. Wow, congrats on your internship with the FDA, hope it works out well for you.

    i'm trying to get into AMC in Manhattan. they are well known for their medical facility, i heard getting volunteer work or internship is quite tricky. I wish you the best of luck as well
     
  36. MooSuga

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    I just signed up for orientation with the ASPCA in NYC. They just posted their orientation schedule on their website.

    I am aiming to get a volunteer position as a Veterinarian Assistant. I'm hoping that it will help open doors for me.

    Btw, how do everyone survive with studying for all your courses and spend many hours volunteering. How does it leave time to work and earn money?

    I'm 24 yrs old but I have a mortgage to pay off. Plus my fiance is attending law school and that isn't cheap either.
     
  37. banditalfi

    banditalfi Cornell 2012
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    I would also check craigslist for jobs - there are always a few vet offices looking for jobs. I worked at a clinic in midtown for a few years and my friend volunteered at AMC. You can also check out FAVS which is a big hospital...
     
  38. Truth74

    Truth74 DVM
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    Welcome to the "Orange" MooSuga. The ASPCA is a great place to learn a lot.
     
  39. MooSuga

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    What is FAVS? I tried googling it, no luck.

    I want to volunteer with the AMC but I know their program doesn't start until the summer. I been keeping in contact with their volunteer coordinator.
    I actually have been checking craigslist and applied to ALL of them...but I haven't gotten any responses. Boo
     
  40. MooSuga

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    Aww thanks. i'm soo excited to work along with them...I think I will put alot more hours with the ASPCA than other places.

    I'm also trying to get into the Bronx Zoo Hospital. But it's no secretive, I can't find ANY information on them whatsoever. I currently volunteer at the Prospect Park Zoo as a zoo docent. None of the other zoo's (Central Park Zoo & Queens Zoo) offer any animal handling.

    Like I mentioned before, I'm hoping to kiss ass there and hopefully work my way to the hospital. If I do, it would be awesome.
     
  41. littleinky

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    Howdy Moosuga!

    I am actually a volunteer at the ASPCA, now. Do you know if you are going to be in Adoptions or the hospital? (they are 2 seperate entities within the same org) I have been trying for the past year to get a VA position in adoptions but no dice. Still on the waiting list. But I wish you better luck!

    The hospital doesn't have a formal volunteer vet assist program. (they do however have a formal hospital volunteer program) if shadowing is what you really want, you'll have to work it out yourself, when you get there. Everyone there is really nice and I have been very glad to help out where I can. You can PM me if I can help in anyway- esp since I'll prob see you there and we go to the same school:)

    As far as your other questions regarding job/school/volunteering juggling. I have a FT job in an unrelated field. It pays the bills and the people are nice so I can't complain. I work about 45-55 hrs/week. I go to school at night 2-4 days per week. Depends on the semester and whether Hunter is offering enough options for me to stack my classes. I volunteer on the weekends.

    The only way I can make this work is by not having a social life. Since I'm a non-trad I'm Ok with the lack of social life. I already have my bachelor's degree and am working on my pre-reqs now :oops: Not everyone I know is happy with that same compromise- but you'll have to weigh out what is more important for you.

    It is possible to get everything accomplished that you need to, but you have to want this and be willing to organize, sacrifice, and sometimes get really creative with your scheduling.

    Good Luck!!!
     
  42. sambone

    sambone Cornell 2013
    5+ Year Member

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    littleinky you are definitely living my old life! I did exactly what you are doing for 2 years in Pittsburgh. It stunk, big time!

    By the end, I was so stressed out trying to schedule the classes I needed around my 9-5:30 job, and trying to find diverse experience in the city that I ended up quitting and moving to NY for a much more flexible job (much less money too :( ). It was a little scary, but definitely worth it. In my case moving to a totally different location opened up a lot of doors. (although it's definitely harder to do that as a traditional college student)
     
  43. PigCowSheep

    2+ Year Member

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    PHEW! I just got off the phone with the Hampton Veterinary Hospital in Hampton, NH. I'm interviewing next week for a front desk position. The nice man on the phone said that the busy season is coming up and that if I get hired, there would be lots of "hands on" experience coming my way. I think I might have leg up here because he and his wife have both spent time in Iowa (I'm from Iowa) at Drake and Iowa State respectively. I'm glad you guys think a front desk position is an okay place to start. A clinic is a clinic right? And if I'm working there, I'm experiencing the field, right?

    I also am waiting on a call later in the week with the Kittery Animal Hospital in Kittery, Maine. I got an email today from the office manager saying she'd call me later to set up an interview.

    From what I've learned so far, send out your resume and cover letter to EVERY vet clinic in your area, or anywhere that has animals, for that matter. Even if they aren't actively looking for someone to hire, most will politely tell you no and file your information away, should a position arise later. If you don't get any response out of them in, say, a week, send out a follow up letter to just reiterate your interest in joining their (practice, facility, what have you) so they know you're really serious!

    Good luck!
     
  44. MooSuga

    2+ Year Member

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    Littleinky,

    That is awesome,I dont know what division of the ASPCA I got into. I'm hoping to get a volunteer position as Animal Care Tech, Mobile Clinic Asst or even the Vet Asst.

    What is your major @ Hunter CUNY? I'm actually considering changing my major from Accounting to Bio. Realized that I would spend alot of time with my Ugrad if I wasn't going into Bio.

    As of right now, I volunteer with NYCares, Prospect Park Zoo, ASPCA and probably Animal Care & Control. I volunteer approximately 20-30 hours per week. I don't know how many hours I will be volunteering once school is back in session.

    I'm kinda nervous, exactly what about I don't know...but the entire process is a bit nerve-racking
     
  45. MooSuga

    2+ Year Member

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    PigCowSheep.

    Congrats on your position...I hope you get to have lots of hands-on experience!
     

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