How Should I Spend My Summer?
Posted on April 16, 2012
Depending on your veterinary program, many of you will still have the summer(s) off for the next year or two. Take some time to think about how you will spend the summer months and what you can do to build up your resume and prepare yourself for post-graduation applications.
It may be tempting to go back to your hometown and stay rent-free with mom and dad and hang out by the pool all summer. However, it will be more beneficial in the long run to at least aim for some veterinary related work experience during this time. Even if you don’t do a specific preceptorship or have a full time job, you may be able to do some volunteer work and have a little fun, all while building up your resume! If you have to get a job out of the veterinary field to pay your bills (as I did one summer), try to find just a little extra time to learn about something new regarding veterinary medicine.
Here are some ideas:
1) Visit your veterinary college website. Most schools have a database of job listings. Look under the externship/preceptorship category. This will list openings for summer jobs or externships all over the country (some paid, some un-paid). If you find something interesting, contact them and see what type of summer housing could be available. For example, I was accepted for a pathology preceptorship one summer in Boston when I was in vet school for a couple of months. I called them to ask if they knew of any temporary housing opportunities. They directed me to a nice woman who lived less than two miles from their facility and rented me an area in her house for that summer. Perfect! Even though I did not ultimately decide to become a pathologist, that experience was invaluable and I met many wonderful people who wrote me recommendation letters down the road.
2) If you already know you are headed home for the summer (wherever that may be), or if you are staying in your college town, drop off your resume to local clinics. Let them know you would be interested in part-time/full-time temporary work for the summer while school is out, or would be interested in volunteering for a couple of weeks to gain some experience. Even if you just volunteer your time for a week or two at several clinics, you will learn how the hospitals are all different, how cases are managed, etc. This information can be valuable once you are out of school and looking for a permanent job.
3) Don’t forget about the local zoos or animal shelters. These facilities are always looking for extra volunteers! Why not try something new for a few weeks during your summer? It looks great on your resume and, in the case of shelter medicine, you are giving back to the greater good.
4) If you are staying in your college town, how about asking that favorite professor if he needs any extra help with his research projects during the summer? This is a great opportunity to learn something new and build up a relationship with colleagues in the university.
An important thing to remember: The world of veterinary medicine (no matter how vast it may seem) is a small world. Many professionals know each other, even if they live on different sides of the country. Often, many of the people that you meet during these experiences will help you to find an interest, or may be an important contact for you in future endeavors!
Don’t forget to send a thank you note to the places at which you volunteer or work. Thank them for taking the time to show you new things and helping you gain invaluable experience.