Finding a Veterinary Job

After graduating from vet schools, new veterinarians must begin the search for a job. Most students will begin the actual search while they are still attending school, and some will take jobs where they performed their internships. Graduates will need to line up references and have resumes prepared to obtain interviews with potential employers. There are many factors to consider before beginning the search for the first job after graduating from veterinary school.

Internships should not be overlooked as potential sources for jobs. Some veterinary schools have students serve in an internship role during their final year, usually in an area of interest for the student. Some students also choose to take internships after graduating, which can also be useful in finding future employment.

Regardless of their internship status, students should prepare to have references available well ahead of graduation. It is also helpful to begin building a resume as soon as possible after starting vet school. Many students begin preparing resumes while they are still in their undergraduate programs and are able to use this information during the vet-school application process. It is also helpful to begin practicing interview skills early, as interviews are not only part of the process for entering vet school, but also will help the newly graduated veterinarian find a first job.


References are an important part of the job-searching process for those newly graduated from vet schools. References need to be acquired early, even as early as during undergraduate study. New vets often use professors or previous employers as references for employment. Anyone that the new vet has worked with during clinical training in school may also be used as a reference. Other students are also sometimes used as personal references for the new vet. There are many sources of potential references, and the newly graduated veterinarian should be aware of them all.

When preparing to enter the work force, students often ask previous professors to provide references. Because professors are asked to write references so often, students should be sure that the professor can actually rate them on something other than the grades obtained in the course. It can be helpful for a student to get to know at least a few professors so that the professors can speak about the student on a personal level, as well.

Previous employers are also often asked to provide references for former employees. Students should be sure that the employer will speak highly of them before using them as a reference. The work performed at the previous job should have been excellent, with a stellar attendance history, or the employer might not give a positive reference. Employers may not legally speak poorly of previous employees, but they can refuse to answer any questions other than about the length of employment. An employer refusing to answer questions can be just as negative as if he or she had actually spoken poorly about the previous employee.

Personal references are sometimes requested by new employers. These should never be family members but should be people that the student has worked with closely. They may be classmates that were in study groups with the new vet and can give observations about how hard the student worked. New employees may also want to use as references former coworkers, who can also speak to the abilities of the candidate. Candidates should never give the names of anyone who has not agreed to provide a reference, and they should be fairly confident that the person named will be able to speak highly of them.

References are an important part of the job-searching process. New vets should line up references early, and should be confident in what previous employers and coworkers will say about them when they are called.

Job Interview

Interview skills should be acquired early by those attending vet schools. As interviews are required by all of the veterinary schools in the United States, new vets will already have had some experience with the interview process. Many undergraduate schools have practice interview sessions where students can build their skills and practice what real-world job and graduate school interviews are like. Students should practice these skills as much as possible, as they will need these skills for the rest of their careers.

Job interviews, like graduate school interviews, can be very stressful for the candidates. Most interviewers will ask similar questions to warm up the candidate, but more difficult questions may follow. Candidates can initially expect to answer questions about why they decided to enter the field of animal medicine as well as more general questions about what they enjoy doing during their time off. Employers may then give the candidate difficult scenarios and ask them what they would do in a given stressful situation that may come up during the course of the job. Some interviewers may even ask strange questions that might make no sense to the candidate. Some employers feel that asking unusual questions can help the interviewer judge how the potential employee would handle a strange event or occurrence that could come up on the job.

Interview skills are important to practice. Many schools, particularly at the undergraduate level, provide students with free help in building interview skills. They may provide extracurricular classes and mock interviews with evaluations to help students build their confidence. Interview classes are sometimes also available, especially in associate-level programs, to help students prepare for real-life interviews. Students who are particularly nervous about public speaking or interviewing should look into such programs before attempting to interview for employment.

Interview skills are among the most important skills in helping a candidate stand apart from his or her peers, both in the workplace and in graduate school interviews. Obtaining good interview skills early in the undergraduate career will help the student both with entry to the graduate program and eventually with landing a job.


It is important for people who have newly graduated from vet schools to make sure that their resumes are up to date. Resume building should begin early in the academic career, since resumes can also be used when applying for jobs and graduate school while still enrolled in an undergraduate program. There are many helpful websites and services that will help students to build a resume that will allow them to stand apart from their peers and give them a better chance of earning a job.

It is important for all students to have a resume, regardless of their current level of education. As veterinary schools require a great deal of experience with animals before being eligible to apply, it is helpful for students to keep track of their experience by listing employers in resume format. This can be helpful in remembering who to ask for references, as well. Undergraduate students may want to seek employment while still attending school, and having a resume that is already built and ready can help them to find relevant paid employment that will also be useful when applying to vet school.

Students enrolled in veterinary school should maintain a list of their clinical activities and locations on their resume. This can be used to help the student when applying for employment after graduation as a newly licensed vet. Having this information ready will allow the student to e-mail or send the resume without delay when a job opening of interest is found.

There is help available for those who may struggle with building a resume. There are numerous websites dedicated to helping students write excellent resumes; these sites may include tips on what types of experiences students should list. Each city also usually has businesses that will, for a fee, help with resume writing. Students can check a phone book under “Resumes” for these businesses.

Having a well-written resume should be a top priority of every new veterinarian. A good resume written well ahead of graduation will help the new vet apply for jobs as they become available. It is often a good idea to continue modifying a resume throughout the academic career, beginning during undergraduate study.


Internships can be an important and invaluable part of attending vet schools. Internships can be done during the course of study and are often a requirement of veterinary schools before the student is allowed to graduate. Internships can also be voluntary or elective, and some students choose to take extra internships during summer or holiday breaks to vary their experience. Other students may choose to take a post-graduate internship, allowing them to further specialize in their field of expertise. Students should consider internships as a way not only to network, but also to potentially gain employment.

Most veterinary students will have to perform an internship during their final year of school. The internship is often in their field of interest, and allows them to work with experienced veterinarians and gain valuable experience that they cannot attain in the classroom. Students may choose to do internships in any number of areas, including at small-animal hospitals, farms, clinics, research facilities, or private companies. These final internships often allow the student to obtain, at minimum, a reference for employment, but might also lead to a job offer, as well. Many companies will extend offers of employment to those who have done an exceptional job during their internships.

Many veterinary schools also offer elective internships during breaks from school, usually during the summer or holiday break. These may include opportunities to travel overseas and work with veterinarians in other countries, something that the student may otherwise have never been able to do. These types of internships look great on resumes and show that the student has voluntarily acquired a great breadth of knowledge and experience while still enrolled in vet school.

After graduation, some newly licensed vets will opt to take an internship with a company or university in a post-graduate role. Doing so allows students to specialize in a particular field of veterinary medicine and allows them to acquire more experience than they may have been able to get during school. This option is particularly popular among vets who want to work with exotic species, as there are not that many opportunities available to student veterinarians in this field. These internships may be paid, as when working for a company, or unpaid, if the student is interning with a university. Teaching at the school may be another paid internship option. Internships can provide excellent work experience for the new vet. Students should seek out as many varieties of job experience as they can; these will look good to future employers and may lead to future employment.

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