The time of year when you need to be thinking about what to do for the summer! If you don’t already have a plan, that is. Most people I’ve spoken with who are studying vet med either end up working in clinics or doing research during the summer. You also have the set of people who go home and relax, which after going through an entire school year is just what the doctor ordered for many of us. This year, I actually do have a plan in place, so I thought I’d share some of the things I did differently this year that led me to have secured summer plans relevant to veterinary medicine.
But before I get into that, first things first: what am I actually doing? Well, I’ll be going back to where my whole higher education journey started and doing research at Virginia Tech. The reason I found out about this program is because a representative visited my school in the fall, as well as last year, so I had the opportunity to meet twice. This brings me to my first point:
Be sociable. You don’t have to over act or be overly enthusiastic (trust me, people can see through that), but genuine interest and a good disposition really work. The whole reason I approached the representative from VT was solely based on the fact that I walked through the atrium in one of the buildings and saw the banner of my alma mater. That connection led to a conversation about the research program, my own personal research interests, and so on. The second time we met, when I realized the representative remembered me from the year before, I decided to apply.
Which kind of brings me to my second point: Don’t think you can’t do it. I realize in hindsight that a large part of the reason I didn’t apply the first time was that I didn’t think institutions would find my application competitive. PLEASE don’t sell yourself short! This goes for any venture you try to pursue within veterinary medicine. If you’re interested, apply. Worst case scenario is you’re told no.
The best advice I can give is to start thinking about the summer early. I know, when you’re in the middle of the fall semester the last thing on your mind is what you’ll be doing in May. However, a lot of schools will send recruiters to your campus, and it’s a good way to see if you’re interested in a program and meet a program contact. If research isn’t your thing, start seeking internships early. Ask your professors to see if they know alumni in your area or in your field of interest. You really have a wealth of resources, but the key is to start being proactive early.
Summer is the time when you’re likely to have your most influential experiences. Definitely take advantage!