As many of you know, I accepted a job offer with Veterinary Emergency Group (VEG) for next year. I have received so many questions about how to stand out as an applicant to their Early Entry Track (EET) program, so I thought I would share some tips to prepare while in veterinary school.
1) Experience in Emergency Medicine
Get as much emergency experience as you can! It is important to show that you are passionate about emergency medicine, and the best way to do that is through experience. However, if you don’t have a ton of emergency experience before applying, that is ok too! I did not know I wanted to do emergency until I started my clinical rotations, so most of my experience was in general practice and exotics. Additionally, COVID really messed up my clinical schedule so my Emergency and Critical Care rotation was pushed back until January of 2021 (currently on ECC while I am writing this). Based on the clinical rotations I had before I applied to VEG, I knew I thrived in a fast-paced environment, and I knew I loved variety. I sought every opportunity to get inside VEG hospitals and fell in love with emergency medicine. I believe that I was really able to convey that message despite the relative lack of experience. If you want to set yourself up for success though, get into every VEG and/or emergency hospital you can! An added bonus is that you can be sure you want to do emergency medicine before you commit.
2) Apply to the VEG Scholarship
This is how I got hired so early – I applied to the VEG Scholarship. Although I didn’t win the scholarship, I landed a job out of it and made incredible connections with the company. When you apply for the scholarship, you are showing initiative before the EET application even comes out. Regardless of the outcome, it is an amazing opportunity to possibly get your fourth year of veterinary school paid for while making incredible connections along the way.
3) Build Relationships with Mentors
Do as many externships as you can and build relationships with your mentors. I highly recommend a VEG externship, or any other emergency externship if you don’t have a local VEG hospital. I externed with Dr. Ashley Gray in Charlotte and she became one of my closest friends. I truly believe her recommendation letter is what helped me stand out. Clinical rotations are also an excellent time to build relationships with faculty who can write really solid letters of recommendation. I had a variety of different doctors write my letters of recommendation, so don’t assume they all have to come from ER doctors. The most important thing about letters of recommendation is that that person knows you well and can vouch for you.
4) SEek opportunities with veg while in school
If your school offers a VEG ambassador position, I highly encourage you to apply for it. This is a great way to start building connections with VEG. Also, attend any talk that VEG offers at your school and ask questions. Email the person who lectured and connect with them. Tell them you are interested in working with VEG following graduation. Be bold and ask for what you want!
5) be authentic
Most important of all, be yourself. Authenticity is key! It is important to do some self-analyzing prior to any interview. Look up commonly asked interview questions and prepare answers. It is also important to have a good understanding of typical cases you will see as an ER vet (e.g., blocked cat, toxicities, foreign bodies, etc.) Don’t try to oversell yourself. Stay authentic. What do you bring to the table that makes you stand out? Everyone has something unique within them and interviews are a time to highlight these qualities. I believe that authenticity shines through when you are responding to questions in interview scenarios. And I think people really resonate with this quality when they experience it in an interviewee.
- Gain Experience in emergency medicine
- Apply to the VEG Scholarship
- Build relationships with your mentors
- Seek opportunities with VEG while in school
- Be authentic
My hope is that these tips can help you as you begin to apply to your first job, whether that be with VEG or another hospital. Seek opportunities as they present to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. You will be successful! And always remember – if one door closes, it just means that door wasn’t meant for you at this moment. You will end up where you are supposed to be.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions. If you are in the process of applying to VEG, don’t hesitate to reach out! I always love meeting aspiring VEGgies.