Now for the dreaded resume-building talk. It feels like we can never escape, that there is always this pressure to be the best. The competitiveness to get into vet school just doesn’t seem to go away after you get in. It is there when you think about getting an internship, a residency, a job. It is engrained in us early that to be competitive you need to stand out. What I suggest is to be passionate about something, that will make you stand out and you won’t stress yourself out trying to be the best. The best way to do this is to branch outside of the classroom or clinic and found something you enjoy that also prepares you for the veterinary world.
This could be any of the student clubs offered at your campus or volunteer work within your community. To me, all these extra ‘activities’ are there to help you find your passion. If you are interested in surgery, join a surgery club where they practice suture techniques. If you are all about repro, the Theriogenology club may be the thing for you. Or if you are interested in mission trips, a shelter medicine club or IVSA may be fun. They are just tools to help you find your niche. Yes, they are great resume builders, but if that is solely your focus you will make yourself go crazy. Instead, focus on what you enjoy – pick a few clubs or events that you know will be fun for you. We already have limited time, why stretch yourself thin when you don’t have to. I have seen too many classmates take on endless leadership roles in multiple clubs to build their resume and they end up getting burnt out way too quickly.
Personally, I did not know what my niche was and I am still currently finding it. I went to the club fair at my campus and was overwhelmed by how many there were. I walked around trying to find one that spoke to me. I found myself at the SAVMA (Student American Veterinary Medical Association) booth. At our campus, SAVMA is an umbrella organization, where to join any of the clubs on campus you have to be a SAVMA member first. Well, since that was the case I had better join since I knew that I probably wanted to join a club eventually. In the end, SAVMA itself became my club.
The two reasons I was drawn to the SAVMA delegate position; I was terrified of public speaking and I wanted to get over it and second because you got to travel. The latter was a big deal for me since I had never traveled outside of Arizona but a handful of times. So far, I have quadrupled my flying time and I am still nervous to public speak. The delegate position was much more to me than that though – I found that I enjoyed being a leader within my student body, and I wasn’t half bad at it. As a two-year commitment, I attended both the annual SAVMA symposium and AVMA convention twice. A fellow student from my university and I sat on the House of Delegates and represented our college. I learned a lot about the importance of SAVMA and what it does for veterinary students as the student arm of the AVMA. They support them by providing helpful resources, financial support, and maintain a national voice for all veterinary students. A majority of a delegates work is within their committee. You can read about all the SAVMA committees here.
I wanted to continue speaking on the behalf of veterinary students so last year I was elected the national SAVMA Editor-in-Chief on the executive board. It is a two-year position where I am given the duty of managing The Vet Gazette Blog and making the monthly SAVMANews newsletter. All the executive board officers work in what little spare time they have to improve opportunities, promote awareness, and advocate for the issues students face such as student debt and financial literacy, student wellness and mental health, inclusion and cultural diversity, and just being there for your fellow student.
It makes it easy to build your resume when your ‘extracurricular activities’ are something you really enjoy and you are surrounded by great people. The work that I do for SAVMA does not feel like a job or added stress, it is something I am passionate about. I have found my donated time has been valuable to my career exploration and obviously by resume. The niche I found as a veterinary student may be unique but it speaks to the fact that you need to find something you passionate about and enjoy so that it does not feel like added stress. The added bonus should be that it looks good on a resume.
I highly recommend as a student you attend SAVMA Symposium, you can get involved in endless opportunities and meet great people. This next one will be held at the University of Georgia in Athens. Check it out here.