Early in the semester, I was offered the opportunity to sign up to have a veterinarian in the community serve as my mentor. A major facet of this program is a series of events held at the school. Once a year, the school holds a dinner one evening and then other activities on the following day. All of the mentors are invited and all students are welcome. Obviously, the goals are to get to know your mentor, get advice and guidance that can be applied to our own careers, and create connections that will help later on in life.
While attendance was completely optional for students, it was well worth my time. This was a very unique experience because of the wide diversity of veterinarians present, each with their own perspectives on the industry. I met food animal, small animal, and even public health veterinarians. One used to be the president of the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, one worked for large food companies, many went straight into private practice, some were graduates of VMRCVM, and others were from schools all across the nation. For me, listening to everyone’s story and how they ultimately ended up in their current position was the most valuable to me. By finding mentors with paths similar to my career goals, I was able to figure out what worked for them and what challenges they faced, all of which would be relevant to my future. Each of the mentors I talked with was more than eager to help, and many invited me to shadow at their clinics. Since many of the veterinarians graduated a long time ago, hearing how veterinary schools and the profession have changed over time also fascinated me. As the events ended, I left feeling more confident in myself and with a better idea of the route I will take after graduation.
Taking advantage of opportunities like this is something that everyone should do if given the opportunity. Learning from others who have been there and done everything before you will make everything so much easier and help anyone get the most out of their work.