Recruiting for the Future
Posted July 10, 2018
From left: Fourth-year veterinary student Austin Hardegee,
associate dean for professional programs Dr. Karen Cornell, and
fourth-year veterinary student Caitlin Conner
Veterinarians from the farthest corners of Texas, some driving
four to five hours, traveled to the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) on Nov. 18 to
meet, network with, and, hopefully, recruit students.
Here at home, more than 200 eager first- through fourth-year
veterinary students entered booth-filled lecture halls in the
Veterinary & Biomedical Education Complex (VBEC), armed with
their resumes and ready to secure coveted jobs and externships in
their preferred areas of the state.
The first expanded Veterinary Job & Externship Fair was a
resounding success, drawing a tremendous number of practices of all
sizes that care for animals of all species, as well as students who
were serious about securing positions.
“In the spring of each year, the college has traditionally
organized an evening of interviews during which practitioners
interested in hiring a new veterinary school graduate would meet
with interested fourth-year veterinary students. This year, we
wanted to maximize graduating students’ opportunities to meet with
practices seeking an associate, earlier in the year,” said Karen
Cornell, CVM associate dean for professional programs.
“Additionally, we wanted to give our first-, second-, and
third-year students the opportunity to meet with practices and
discuss possible summer employment opportunities and
After developing the idea of the Veterinary Job & Externship
Fair, Cornell contacted the Texas Veterinary Medical Association
(TVMA), and they were excited to partner with the CVM to provide
this opportunity for both students and practices seeking
“This is an event that has been needed for a really, really long
time,” said Dan Posey, TVMA president and academic coordinator for
the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Center (TVMC) at West Texas
A&M University. “This actually allows the students to see what
the opportunities are.
All four classes of veterinary students took
advantage of the chance to speak with
prospective employers at the fair.
“There are 110 practices here that are all looking for
veterinarians,” he said. “That opens up the eyes, the first-,
second-, and third-year students get to learn about the
opportunities in Texas. And it happens in one place, where students
actually don’t have to get in a car and drive all over the state of
Texas, so it’s really student-friendly, too.”
That student-friendly aspect appealed to many of the students
who attended, each of whom had their own reasons for
Carling Urben, a second-year veterinary student who plans to
specialize in mixed-animal medicine, came to the fair looking for
summer externships and to begin scouting fourth-year externships
“because it’s never too early.”
“It’s been a pretty positive experience; it’s been super
helpful. Everyone I’ve been talking to has been really open to
summer externships and been really awesome,” she said, adding that
she was impressed by the variety of exhibitors. “They brought a lot
of people together; I’ve talked to someone from Beaumont, someone
from Abilene, the Dallas area, Houston area; so, it’s been really
nice to be able to kind of get all corners of Texas and talk to
Urben said that while she’s been told that she shouldn’t be
concerned about her job prospects following graduation, a bit of
anxiety about that had persisted until she attended the fair.
“It seems like a lot of people are looking for associates soon,
or looking for people to take over their practice. Yeah, it kind of
looks like the future’s bright for us,” she said. “It is nice to
have it cemented that all of these people are looking.”
Likewise, fourth-year veterinary student Stephanie Dodd had
experienced a bit of “job-related anxiety;” she wants to practice
mixed-animal medicine but she plans to return to the Houston area,
where she’s from, where her boyfriend works, and also where there
aren’t a lot of mixed-animal practices.
“I was a little nervous, for sure, because there were only three
practices that were mixed that were in the area that I was looking
for, but I had some good conversations and the couple practices
that I talked to today really seem like good potential jobs,” she
said. “I’m excited to go and schedule some time later to spend some
Dodd said that while salary will be a contributing factor to the
position she ultimately decides to take, her biggest consideration
will be the type of people with whom she will be working.
Employers from all over the state of Texas attended
the fair to recruit externs and future veterinary
“I think the things that I value are good mentorship,
veterinarians I’m going to feel comfortable going to asking for
advice, asking you know, ‘What would you do in this situation? I’ve
never done this. Can you just be there and make sure I’m doing
everything OK?’” she said. “I think long-term, my goal is to own my
own practice. So right now, it’s just getting the experience under
my belt and having the right mentors.”
Exhibitor Joe Hillhouse, owner of Carson County Veterinary
Clinic, two mixed-animal practices in Panhandle, Texas, also said
that personality is something he is looking for in potential
“We hire by character; we look for work ethic probably more than
anything. Secondarily, we look for somebody who is enthusiastic
about a mix of things. And then once they get into the practice
they can have an opportunity to develop niches within the practice
of things they like to do,” he said.
One reason character can have such a high priority in his hiring
process is because he knows he’ll get solid, skilled veterinarians
from Texas A&M, he said, adding that he believes the education
students receive in food animal medicine from Kevin Washburn and
Brandon Dominguez as part of the two-week Texas Department of
Criminal Justice rotation fourth-year students can take as an
elective is particularly valuable.
“I’m very, very pleased with our Aggie graduates,” he said.
Hillhouse said networking with and tracking students has become
a big part of his recruitment process, especially in their
location, where there is a huge demand for veterinarians, and the
CVM’s Veterinary Job & Externship Fair will become a big part
of those efforts.
“I like this (event); I think that we, as practices, need more
opportunities to bring our faces forward,” he said. “Networking is,
I think, the most important part. If we can pull the students in to
talk to us, if nothing else, we will have developed an initial
relationship with colleagues that may last for years.”
Overall, Cornell was pleased with the fair’s turnout and is
looking forward to making the activity an annual event.
“We had more than 110 practices in attendance and provided
students in all four years of our DVM program the opportunity to
interact with their future colleagues from all over the state of
Texas,” she said. “We learned a great deal from this first event
and plan to utilize the feedback from practitioners and students to
make the event even better next year. We truly appreciate the
support of the TVMA and the practice colleagues who joined us here
in College Station for the fair.”
The 2018 Veterinary Job & Externship Fair will take place at
the CVM on Sat., Nov. 3rd.
For more information about the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our
website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
This story originally appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of CVM Today magazine.
Contact Information: Megan Palsa, Executive
Director of Communications, Media & Public Relations, Texas
A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science; email@example.com;
979-862-4216; 979-421-3121 (cell)
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