Internships/work experience after Freshman year

Our DD is a freshman biology major/environmental studies minor and wants to go to vet school. We realize it’s a requirement to get some real world experience, either through an internship or at least volunteering, if she wants any chance of getting in.

Would it be realistic to expect to find something after freshman year? She has a job available but it’s not related to veterinary medicine, and she does volunteer at the horse barn where she rides, but that isn’t really medicine related. Thanks.

Is there an animal shelter nearby or any pre-vet clubs at the college?


Yes, her college has a pre-vet club, and she’s involved. We live about 2 hours away from where she goes to school, so this would be a summer job, ideally near her home.

Ok, animal shelter might work. Would also suggest shadowing a vet (which of course is not paid)

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I am trying to remember how our daughter started off. I think that she started off working at a barn just cleaning up and leading the horses back into the barn at the end of the day. Then she drove the tractor a bit when it was needed. She also worked at a summer camp that had animals, but she was mostly just “herding children”. At first none of this was “medicine related”.

The university that she attended had a summer program where she got to continue to clean up after animals, but also got to draw blood, administer medicine (some by shots, some by placing the medicine inside the appropriate part of the cow), and she got to pull baby calves out of the mother when the time came (all of this under the supervision of someone who knew what they were doing). I do not recall whether this was after her sophomore year or after her junior year, but I am guessing the latter.

Quite a bit of her experience came while she was an undergraduate student, but I think that the majority in terms of hours came after she had graduated with her bachelor’s degree. Some of this did involve working for a vet. I think that this started off simple but gradually the vet had her take on more responsibilities.

If your daughter rides, has experience with animals, gets along with people (even slightly annoying people), and has strong references, then she could also think about a summer job on a dude ranch somewhere approximately “out west” (or at least way west of where we live, which includes most of the USA).

Working for a veterinarian is important experience. I would not be surprised if in many cases this starts off as volunteering / shadowing.

The pre-vet club at your daughter’s university should have some ideas.

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My son worked for an equine vet after freshman year as a vet tech. He had worked for him prior to his freshman year also as a vet assistant. He started out by going to several vets and taking resumes, calling vets that we took our animals too and just letting folks know he was looking for vet jobs. The job came about from a friend that knew him and knew the vet. Turned out he was an alumni of the school where our son was going undergrad and hired him. The next vet he worked for was the uncle of one of his fraternity brothers. So the key is to network. Have her put out there she is looking for a position. See if the school has any contacts. He got free housing for one of the jobs for the summer. He was a certified vet assistant when he started but certification is not required in our state.


The animal experience that some of the vet schools require or will give her a leg up for admission are looking for direct animal care under the supervision of a vet. The shelter work and barn work is great experience, shows initiative, responsibility, etc, but it is not direct veterinary care under a licensed vet. My daughter volunteered for 6 years at a primate sanctuary and assisted the exotic animal veterinarian with procedures, she was the team leader for great apes and trained new volunteers. She also volunteered as a vet assistant at a local clinic for almost a year while they trained her and then they hired her as a vet tech. This, and the work that momocarly speaks of is what will be the most critical. Vet schools also want to see leadership in areas other than veterinary science. Community service, research, and enriching other skills and talents that the student has, (music, dance, art). Service to church, community, their college clubs, and local government in leadership roles is important. The vet schools want a well rounded, mature applicant who is comfortable speaking and interacting with adults and have had enough experience to be aware of the challenges and rewards of the profession. Best of luck to your daughter. This forum is a great place to get insight from us parents who have gone through the process with our kids.

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