A marathon not a sprint - message to new graduates

Posted on 23 September 2015

I have been recruiting veterinary surgeon's now for over ten years. Every year at around this time I talk to hundreds of graduate veterinary surgeons eager to embark on their career once their finals are over. Regardless of which university the graduates attend there is a common theme. Nearly all want to work for a large, multi vet surgery with a spread of special interests, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, imaging, medical, dermatology etc. All the things that will give them the exposure they require and deserve after five years of of one of the most challenging degrees out there.  

On the surface this seems like a perfectly reasonable, and I would say logical ambition. However, lets consider the volume of vets graduating each year form RVC, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Cambridge each year, that is quite a number. Then lets consider the number of vacancies in these large, multi vet hospitals that are actually open to new graduates... Sadly the the two do not match up. Indeed many graduates will be lucky and realise their vision of veterinary life form day one. For the other, less fortunate graduates, there is another way.

Consider those roles where you may be the second vet, being the second vet means you will be involved in large amounts of surgery from day one, not just one day per fortnight. You will be managing your own client base form day one. You will be learning about how a practice works, from day one. Consider those "corporate" vacancies. Often these vacancies come with very structured CPD laid out from the start and will also come with extra benefits not always available with other roles.

Unfortunately as a recruiter of veterinary surgeons I see far too often people turn down the opportunity of an interview due to preconceived ideas of a role or practice. Sadly, I also often see those same graduates still looking for roles close to Christmas post graduation. A situation that I cannot imagine was in the initial vision.

In short, your career is not a sprint, it is a marathon. As a new or recent graduate, you would make an assumption about a suspected gastrointestinal foreign body, you would investigate. Similarly, you shouldn't make assumptions about what a practice could offer based on size, location, number of vets, you should also investigate. The best way to do this is in interview. It is better to turn down an offer because you know it is not right, than to not receive offers at all because you didn't apply...​

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