by Erin Hanley, Assistant Academic Director, Loop Abroad
Are you looking for a veterinary internship position? Being a veterinary intern is a great way to gain more experience before entering into a practice or starting a residency. It could also be a good way to get experience with a certain species like lions during a big cat internship for example. If your goal is to be an aquatic animal veterinarian, the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine strongly recommends gaining experience with domestic animals and an internship might be a great fit in this case.
Make sure you start your search as early as possible. If you are looking to start an internship in the summer, you should start looking in the fall because interviews are probably taking place during the winter months.
The American Association of Zoo Veterinarians is one example of an organization that has a career center that can help you get your search started and give you some ideas in terms of the types of placements available. It is also extremely important to take advantage of the individualized help that your university’s career center, pre-vet club and advisors can offer.
A strong application, cover letter and resume are essential for making a good first impression. Of course you know how important it is to check spelling and grammar but you should definitely have more than one person check over your work in case there is something that is unclear or that you may have missed.
Your documents should look polished and professional but don’t get too caught up in fancy formatting–what matters most is the content itself so be clear and succinct. Resumes should be one page in length and if you are asked to submit a cover letter for your veterinary internship, make sure that you follow the parameters and stay within the required length.
Potential employers may also get a glimpse of who you are through your social media presence so be sure that if your accounts are public, you are careful about how you present yourself. If you are pursuing a big cat internship, make sure any photographs posted of you with a cheetah are of you providing care or enrichment and not taking a selfie! Is the person that you have created online what organizations would be looking for in a veterinary intern?
Before going to an interview, study the organization to the point that you have a strong command of the types of services they provide and the wildlife that they work with. Do several practice interviews with people that you can rely on to give you honest feedback about your answers and how you are presenting yourself.
Make sure they ask you practice questions that specifically speak to the organization’s general philosophy as well as the species that they provide care for. The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey, for example, would be looking for candidates that have a ‘respect for wildlife, conservation and Florida’s environment.’ If you are interviewing for a position with black rhinos, research the rewilding process specific to that species and any health concerns they may have upon release. For a big cat internship, be able to discuss preventative care or anesthesia for big cats in captivity.
Upon starting your veterinary internship, take advantage of the opportunity to build as many connections as possible in the wildlife medicine world! The experience will be more rewarding the more you put into it so be aware of what is expected of you, present yourself as a professional and be eager to learn all you can. As a veterinary intern, you can have a lasting impact on the animals under your care. For some examples of international internship opportunities, check out Loop Abroad’s offerings here!