Nobody can prepare veterinarians for what it’s really like out there. In December of last year, I relocated from Hawaii to Colorado. I had a couple years of experience as a veterinarian under my belt, so I thought finding a job would be a lot easier than it had been when I was a new graduate. Virtually nobody wants to hire you when you’re a new grad because you don’t have experience. And if they do hire you, you should expect to get paid a dismal salary.
Sounds depressing, right? It is. Here are just some of the challenges I faced earlier this year before landing my “near perfect” position.
Challenge #1: You will feel like you are wasting your precious time.
Finding the perfect job is kind of like finding your perfect match via online dating. With absolutely no guarantee that you’ll find the job for you, you’ll spend a lot of time reading through job ads, making your resume look perfect, writing cover letters, calling and emailing clinics trying to establish contact… Then, the clinics swipe right or left. For those that swipe right, you schedule a meet and greet, then an interview. If you pass all that, you may get “asked out” for the “third date”—a working interview—which you may or may not get paid for. Throughout all of this, you have to keep your “profile” up-to-date so other potential matches will swipe right.
If reading all that exhausts you, just think about how it feels to do it all, step by step, week by week, application by application. This doesn’t even include time spent shopping for interview clothes, scrubs, lab coats, and other items you may need to ace the interviews.
But in the end, it will be worth it. All of this will bring you closer to finding the right fit for you… Right?
Challenge #2: You will be confused.
Oh, the decisions you’ll have to make!
• Do you want to work for a corporation? Some are hidden corporations, and, unless you’re asking the right questions, you won’t always know.
• Will you want to buy in to the practice?
• What are their core values? Do they match yours?
• Will you want to help them grow? Will they want you to help them grow?
• What kind of salary and benefits will you ask for?
So many questions, so few answers. However, in the same way you rule out diseases by ordering different tests, you will rule out the “imperfect” places by asking the right questions.
Challenge #3: You will be rejected.
I once faced a brutal rejection in the middle of a working interview. It felt like I was hit in the face with a ton of bricks. It was especially painful because I was supposed to come back the next day for a “part two” of my working interview. In less than a day, they had decided that I was not a good fit and that they didn’t want me to come back. Ever.
Even though it sucks and you may want to run to your car and cry—trust me—the more you’re rejected, the easier it is to deal with. You begin to learn that rejection is part of the game, and you’ve just gotta brush it off and keep going. I ended up feeling grateful for all the places that rejected me, because if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have found the job I have now.
Challenge #4: You will make mistakes.
I once made the big mistake of arranging an interview at the last minute, and I didn’t have time to study up on the company. I didn’t know their core values, or anything about them, really, which was painfully obvious during the interview. To top it all off, I fell off my chair during the interview. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.
While it was a really big mistake I made (you should avoid that one if possible), I learned from it. I learned from all the mistakes I made. And, by the time I was interviewing for the company I work for now, I had done all my homework, and I got the results I wanted.
(Side note on working interviews: They can be stressful. Your nerves and extra efforts can make you prone to making mistakes. My advice: Remember to breathe, and be yourself. Trying to be anyone other than yourself is exhausting and not sustainable. And, these practices want to see the real you!)
Challenge #5: You will want to give up.
Toward the end of my job-seeking adventures, I ended up applying for jobs outside of veterinary medicine. I was having such a hard time finding a place I wanted to work, as well as a place that wanted me, that I considered giving up. After going through all of this with no results, it’s normal to have these feelings of despair.
But, I didn’t give up. And you should never give up. It’s OK to want to explore other options, but don’t give up on something you really want just because it’s difficult, and don’t compromise your core values just to hook the job. There will always be challenges—they are unavoidable. But you can choose which challenges are worth facing and still maintain your sense of self.
Although it can be a grueling task, it is possible to find your perfect job match. Keep trying, and keep in mind that we’ve all faced the same challenges you might be facing right now. You can do this.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Hilal Dogan completed veterinary school in 2015 at Massey University in New Zealand. She has spent most of her life traveling and has a diverse cultural background. She is the founder of the Veterinary Confessionals Project and is also a certified clinical trauma professional (for humans). She currently lives and works as a relief veterinarian in Denver, Colorado. She enjoys both general practice as well as emergency medicine. Her other passions involve taking naps, yoga, writing, cooking, comedy, sports and traveling.