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Trouble finding experience?

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by r00, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. r00

    r00 UF CVM c/o 2017
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    Wow, two threads in one day - watch out everybody I'm on a roll...

    I'd hate to blame it on the economy like everyone else blames everything, but I have FINALLY (after about 3 months) gotten my first call back about a chance to volunteer at the SPCA of C. Fl. and I have yet to even get a call back about any applications I have put in for employment at shelters or vet's offices. It seems every position (volunteer or job) that is open is a catch 22 in that they want experience and I have none but I have to start somewhere. Only other opportunity I have found is 99 miles from my house working at Big Cat rescue in Tampa - which is amazing for adding diversity to my animal experience, but it's gonna end up costing me a lot in both $$ and time.

    Is anyone else having issues finding animal experience and even more trouble finding vet experience? Any tips?
     
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  3. nyanko

    nyanko 360noscope squidkid
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    If you have absolutely no veterinary based experience you're probably going to need to volunteer/shadow somewhere first. I lived in Orlando for 3 years while I did my 2nd bachelors at UCF, and had two different clinic jobs, but that's because I put in my time as a volunteer during my first bachelors at a local shelter. Started off cleaning kennels, moved to adoption counseling and then to helping out with the spay/neuter/vaccine clinics, which gave me a good foundation for applying to vet clinics that are open to doing SOME training.

    Many people go the route of shadowing a vet or volunteering at a clinic before working at one. That's probably what you'll need to do.
     
  4. r00

    r00 UF CVM c/o 2017
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    I get that I am in a bad situation - I have decided to pursue a DVM pretty late in my life and with working full time and taking pre-reqs I can't do the amount of volunteering I would like to do. While 23 isn't THAT late in the grand scheme of things, you know what I mean - I have finished my first bachelors, I now have to go back for a second, I am married, I own a home, I work, etc. The biggest problem with volunteering for a vet is that so far none of the clinics within 20 miles of me take volunteers for insurance purposes, and while I may be volunteering at the SPCA they specifically said I won't get any interaction with the vet staff because they only keep trained techs in there. I feel like I will be stuck to cleaning kennels and helping adopt out animals until I actually become a vet (assuming I get in to school with this limited experience).
     
  5. DVMorBust

    DVMorBust UW SVM Class of 2013
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    I was in your same situation when I went back to school. Don't panic! You don't NEED a ton of veterinary experience to get in. When I applied, my total veterinary experience amounted to:

    60-70 hours volunteering/riding along with an equine vet (one day every other week for a few months, and then saturdays for another few months)
    15 hours with another equine/large animal vet
    10 hours shadowing a small animal vet
    8 hours shadowing a zoo vet

    The rest of my experience was animal experience and research experience.

    I've already been accepted to one school this year, so even though it's not nearly as much as a lot of people on this board have, it didn't seem to be an issue.

    They want to know that you understand what it means to be a vet. You don't need to work in a clinic to do that. Try doing some shadowing across a wide range of things - contact some vets that work for the government and see what they do all day, shadow a DVM that does research, shadow shadow shadow even if you're unable to volunteer. If you do shadow, you'll get to know the vets and who knows? they may be willing to hire you if something opens up, even though you haven't been doing 'hands on' stuff.

    Also - I found that large animal vets generally have a lot more leniency when it comes to contact with animals. I couldn't touch the animals at the small animal clinic I shadowed at, but I was more like an unpaid assistant to the horse vet I rode around with.
     
  6. Barnaby

    Barnaby Colorado State PVM 2013
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    Along the lines of what DVMorbust is saying, I think research is extraordinarily valuable to adcoms and to applicants. I can't emphasize enough how grateful I am for my research experiences not only for helping me get accepted, but for all that I've learned from them which will be applicable to learning medicine.

    That said, have you considered looking into research opportunities at the institution from which you are taking your pre-reqs?

    It's my personal opinion that if you do some scientific research they're a little more lenient on the amount of vet. experience you need "in the field". It's an unsubstantiated opinion, but there it is.
     
  7. tastrophe

    tastrophe NCSU c/o 2013
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    Just my $0.02, but I would absolutely go work at BCR if you have any desire at all to work with wildlife/large/exotic animals. You didn't say whether it was a paid position or not, but if not, I'd at least put in one day a week or so for a few months. It's a long haul, no doubt about it, but it will certainly set you apart. At least, that's my opinion :oops:
     
  8. TurtleLover

    TurtleLover LSU SVM c/o 2013!!
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    Tastrophe, I totally agree with you and I feel the economy is a large reason for this as well. I have 9 months of kennel and tech. assistant experience in two clinics (one in miami and one in orlando) and countless hours of research and wildlife experience too. While working as a tech assistant I learned how to run labs, draw blood a couple times from the front arm, and assist with many other things.

    I quit my job at my last place because after talking to the vet schools that I applied to last year, they said I need more experience working along side the doctors, that kennel work wasn't going to benefit me anymore. So I applied to pretty much every clinic in Orlando and Oviedo for a vet tech. and I have gotten several interviews, but no job offers. After asking the employers why I wasn't hired, every answer was the same: "You don't have enough experience for our clinic".

    So I definitely feel your pain. I am almost 23 myself and don't have the time to start new in a kennel and slowly work my way up to a tech in the same hospital. So now I am pretty much giving up looking for a tech job since I already have been accepted to St. Matthews and know I am going to vet school anyways. So I'm still volunteering a lot with my wild animal place in Christmas (which if you want non-medical hands on experience with wild animals, PM me and I'll give you some more info.) and taking some upper level and graduate classes at UCF just to keep my brain going.

    But it does seem like a catch 22 because everyone wants you to have experience, but only a fraction of the clinics are willing to hire you to give you the experience that you need. So you're not alone in Central Florida! Just keep your head up and hopefully something will come your way if you keep pursuing it.
     
  9. TurtleLover

    TurtleLover LSU SVM c/o 2013!!
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  10. sumstorm

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    I shadows 6 vets for the few months that I was unemployed. Within 3 months, I had 5 job offers. I entered vet shadowing with exotic animal and pet training experience. I also had attended several conferences such as AZA and APDT, which gave me some valuable information to share. I am also taking courses in animal nutrition as a pre-req, which my now employer is happy to take advantage of. Oh, and because I WANT to learn more, the vets in our clinic are quick to take advantage of my willingness to read any and all journals they hand to me and to research any topic they desire.

    So, perhaps frame shadowing as a chance to get something back for the vets. Ask them if there is a topic they wish they had time to research, and offer to do the research in exchange for observing. Offer to sign liability waivers and to stay 'hands off' if that helps. At this point, I have had the opportunity to research vax protocols, raw diet nutrition, dietary supplements, and a few new drugs. I learn something valuable, the doctors get info they want off the clock, and I obtained a job in the field. I also get access to all the journals and portaled websites my bosses use.

    The other option might be to see if there is a way to get a rider on your homeowners insurance for liability while volunteering, which would help protect the vets.

    The nice thing about shadowing is that if you end up in a not so great place, it is easy enough to bow out and you can get variety. I just happened to be out of work due to a relocation for my husband's job.
     
  11. ckd816

    ckd816 Dick Vet c/o 2015
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    I also think the economy has made it harder to find experience... I worked at an animal hospital in the kennel from November 2007 to August 2007, and then volunteered as a vet assistant in the same hospital for about a month after I left the paid kennel position. I thought more time in a kennel wouldn't really help me in the long run so I decided to do the volunteering thing instead since I couldn't do both with school. I only got about 32 hours volunteering as a vet assistant before I realized I didn't like it... the hospital had about 13 doctors, so every time I went it seemed like I was with another vet. It was really dead most of the time I went and I didn't feel I was establishing any connections with vets there so I wanted to go to a smaller practice.

    That was a really long set up to get to the point that I could never find anyone else who would take me! Things really went downhill for me during that time anyway and I've moved since then, so I am about to start bugging clinics again that are closer to where I am, but the economy has only gotten worse since then so who knows what will happen...

    I haven't had any problems with getting animal experience, however. I am an Arizona resident, so I have started volunteering at the Phoenix Zoo but it's nothing hands on. Also, I managed to get an internship with the Wildlife World Zoo for the summertime where I will basically be an assistant keeper.

    Anyway, I apologize for being long-winded. I just wanted to rant about being a poor, unemployed student and the lack of veterinary experience (paid or unpaid) that is available in this area! :mad:
     
  12. cerealrhapsody

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    You are definitely not alone! I am having the same problem (and I also live in FL).
     
  13. WildlifeSaver

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    I am in deep. I also haven't found experience working alongside a vet. I however, just got a interview this sat for a fish and inverts position at a aquarium. I have been trying to get in for over a YEAR now though. If I get this position I could be doing some neat things eventually. At first, I will be slaving away cleaning tanks and lifting heavy objects. This still isn't vet experience so to say, but its in a different type of area in enviromental conservation. I hope to gain excess to the wildlife vet there to ask for shawdowing time. I have also been a volenteer on and off and a wildlife center here in NJ for the past 3 years. I hope I am making the right choice if I get this fish and invert position and not waste time.

    It is just super hard to get gigs :(. I feel for everyone too that lacks getting close to veterinarians or get some good interesting vol/work positions.
     
  14. WildlifeSaver

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    Oh and one thing I wanted to ask everyone is when you are required to stay a year for a commitment..and you can't..DO u still try for a vol position anyway? I just feel like I don't want to lie to them, but I know I waited a long time and this could be good for me. What would you do? I am moving to WI for fall 09 for undergrad to hope for admissions one day.
     
  15. Angelo84

    Angelo84 Tufts Class of 2011
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    I volunteered with the Franklin Park Zoo in boston. The position was supposed to be once a week for a year for 250 hours. I wanted to do the same number of hours in 6 weeks--they thought I was nuts but they let me! I would just be upfront with them.
     
  16. cozycleo

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    Older nontrad here. Since I am not applying for at least 1-2 years, I have been taking whatever experience I can get. I work full time, own a home, have a husband, and I spent one day a week over the summer caring for and releasing orphaned squirrels at a wildlife center. I plan to return next summer to work in a different part of the center now that I have my rabies vaccs. I recently took on a weekly volunteer position at a local zoo. I don't even interact with the animals right now, but I am doing all the diet prep for the aquatics animals as well as sanitizing the back areas and water testing. It's not direct animal work, but I also know that it can lead to other opportunities if I put in my time and work hard. I couldn't ask for a nicer group of people to work with, and they want to help me succeed.

    I also happened to just know someone on another forum who works for a clinic. I emailed her to ask her opinion on how to go about getting veterinary experience (not asking her or her clinic for help), and she turned out to be the office manager of her clinic (which I didn't know) and offered right off the bat to have me come in to shadow her 3 vets. I couldn't believe my luck on that one.

    Never underestimate the power of networking. Even if you are starting "late" in the game, put yourself out there. Check out places like volunteermatch.org, call rescues and shelters, talk to your friends and family. The best lesson I learned working with attorneys all those years is that networking pays off! We all want to help the animals, but it's key to be good with people too.

    I have a long way to go yet, but I feel like I'm off to such a good start. Best of luck to you!
     
  17. Electrophile

    Electrophile Working Dog Doc
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    I'll second that! Even if your local shelter vet or your own vet won't let you shadow for whatever reason, sometimes just asking "do you know anyone who needs help?" does the trick. Hopefully the local vets are getting together for local CE and local organized vet med meetings, so they do talk amongst themselves. Sometimes also just asking if you can shadow for a day and then help out doing what even the assistants don't like doing: cleaning the blood off the floor and surgery table, sweeping up the fur while the patients are being prepped for surgery, and so on.

    A lot of large/food animal vets are probably likely to want to some free help, even if it's just something like taking notes while they preg check or helping fill syringes while they are working on the cow at the head gate. Plus the rides on the truck to and from the farm are a good way to ask questions and get lots of war stories. :D I always felt I got a lot more questions asked and answered that way than back at the clinic where I didn't want to get in the way or take up too much time. Good luck! :luck:
     
  18. WildlifeSaver

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    Thanks Angelo for your input. Eh and ugh, its tom too and still thinking about how long it took me for this interview and only 8 people will get the position. I just don't want them to have a reason to be like "well she is leaving in about 6 months so I am not sure about this one" pile. I will prob be fine though. I have to stop worrying now because I got the interview! I should be upfront though then go with my original plan of saying Rutgers and a few others.

    Also, wow 250 hours?!? In 6 weeks?!? Your dedicated!
     
  19. TurtleLover

    TurtleLover LSU SVM c/o 2013!!
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    Well I never thought I would see this day, but I got a call from a vet clinic I applied to over 8 months ago, got an interview, and got the job the same day as a veterinary technician!!

    I am super thrilled they are willing to teach me everything I need to know and I get to keep the job as long as I continue to show improvement and learning capabilities in the next few weeks :D

    WOO HOO! IM FINALLY A VET TECH!!
     
  20. InfiniVet

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    One thing I want to tell y'all: When applying for a job at a clinic, for whatever position, DO NOT talk to the manager or receptionist. You want to talk to the doctor - they have been where you are and in my experience will bend over backwards to get you some 1st hand experience. However you will need to explain to them that you are getting into vet school come hell or high water and that you have a strong back & a weak mind & are an eager student. They'll get it. The manager/receptionist won't. The best way to do this is make an appt for your animal and blindside them ;) Attend your friend's veterinary appt and blindside them too. Hey it worked for me!

    Also, it helps to have other volunteer stuff on board so that you appear willing to do work for free. Hospice volunteering, ASPCA, red cross, organizing benefits/charity events, habitat for humanity, tutoring high school students, mentoring those less fortunate than you, even getting CPR training, all of these can help you land a veterinary type job and will plus (!) look good on your veterinary application.

    It shows you are willing to donate your free time and be slave labor because you will need to be able to do that in VetMed haha :)
     

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