Tag Archives: Curriculum Vitae

Behind the Scenes: How I Read an Internship Application

Image by Alicja from Pixabay

I thought it would be helpful to share my personal process for reading an internship application.  This is a highly personalized process- please don’t assume that others go through the same process. Nonetheless, I thought it would be helpful to share what goes through my brain, so here it is:

First, the internship application through the match is organized like this: standard application information (entered when you apply through the VIRMP), letter of intent, CV, transcripts, letters of recommendation.

From the standard application, I scroll down to the veterinary education section.  I notice if they went to school at an AVMA-accredited program or an unaccredited program.  I note the class rank and graduation date. I glance at the references to get an impression of what sorts of letters they have.  Very little hard decisions are made at this step- it’s just collecting data.

The letter of intent is where I begin to apply some discrimination.  Is it more than one page? If so, I probably won’t read it unless it appears to be an _incredibly_ unusual applicant.  If it’s more than one page, I will review the rest of their materials to decide, “Is this person even worth considering?”  The vast majority of the time, the answer is “no”, so my job is done and I move onto the next. If the letter is one page or less, I skim it until I find an interesting, useful, unique piece of information, then read that segment in detail.  I also read for grammar and spelling errors. I consider how they structured concepts and what I learned about the applicant. The letter is extremely important to me and I will start to put the applicant into one of three bins- not rankable, rankable good, rankable OK.

For the CV, I check to see if they have any obvious gaps in professional progression not addressed in their letter of intent.  If so, this is a red flag. Have they done research- if so, what was their role? If they were the first author on a submitted publication, great.  Otherwise, I don’t think much of research experience. Did they have an officer role in a club? What is interesting about their experience? Did they travel?  How will I summarize this person in my Excel file where I track all applicants (see below)? The CV is not a major deciding factor for me but helps fill in the picture of the applicant.

The transcripts are fluff for me.  I skim them briefly to see if there are any “D” or “F” grades and, if so, in what subject they are.  If not, I spend no time on the transcripts unless they are from international applicants. In that case, I review them carefully to get an idea of what academic material this person has studied.

The letters of recommendation, with the letter of intent, form the greatest portion of my evaluation.  In the letters, I look at the qualifications of the letter writer, are they from the applicant’s current institution, how many interns they have worked with, and their connection with the applicant.  I then skim the ratings of clinical & technical skills and professionalism to see if there are any particularly low marks. Most of my time is spent reading the qualitative data provided in the remarks section.

In the qualitative remarks, I primarily look to see if the person is easy to work with, eager to learn and accept feedback and act in a positive, professional manner.  If the letter is not very detailed, that is also flagged as concerning. I will also look for indications of humility, eagerness to work, and emotional intelligence. It is rare to read a letter which is not laudatory, so I need to read between the lines.  Remarks which focus on the intelligence of the applicant, without mention of them being easy to work with, are flagged as problematic.

Once I have read through everything, I will go back and make notes in an Excel document which has the following column headings: name, class rank, education/experience, letter, clubs, miscellaneous, research, references, score.  I make short notes for each of these and then make a determination of placement: do not rank, rank in bottom third, rank in the middle third, rank in the top third.

So, that’s the process.  This forms the basis for some of my advice, and it may differ among evaluators.  Maybe some people care a LOT about research, maybe others ONLY consider the objective data provided in letters of recommendation.  However, in discussion with dozens of colleagues, most of them follow a similar process to that described here. So I think this is a helpful start for you to review.

Mastering the Internship Application Timeline

The process to make your application most competitive for an internship starts long before your senior year.  Each step along the way is important, and poor decisions can make it progressively harder to be an excellent candidate.  Here is a timeline to help you be the best internship applicant you can be.

First Year – Get involved in at least one vet school club.  Work hard so you are a shoo-in for an officer position next year.

First Summer – Participate in a summer research scholars program or equivalent professional experience.  This does not mean going back to the clinic you worked at growing up. That does not add to your CV.

Second Year – Be a leader in your club(s).  Now that you have the hang of vet school, make sure you have at least one extracurricular activity you could put on your CV in addition to the club responsibility.

Second Summer – If you didn’t do a summer research program last year, do one this year.  If you already did one, try to get some professional-adjacent experience, ideally overseas or with under-served and/or marginalized and/or low SES populations.

Choosing Rotations – This may happen in your second or third year.  See the post on maximizing your senior year for internship success when choosing rotations.

Third Year – Study study, pay attention, show up, and do the work.  These classes are often the most clinically applicable. If you can get a handle on the material now, you will be a more competent senior student.  If possible, wrap up any lingering projects from earlier in vet school- you may not have time during senior year.

Fourth Year – At the start of each rotation, let the faculty know you are interested in an internship.  If you did well, at the end of the rotation, ask if they would be willing to write a good letter of recommendation for you.

  • September – Begin working on your letter of intent and CV.  You want lots of input from mentors and friends on this- give them time to give it to you.  Begin to research prospective programs.
  • October – You should have most of your letters of recommendation requested by now.  If you have a rotation in November, you may wait for one of them. If you didn’t ask your potential letter writer at the end of the rotation, ask them now.  Do not wait. Your letter of intent and CV should be in near final form.
  • November – Make the last tweaks on your letter of intent and CV.  All of your letters of recommendation should have been requested by now.  Narrow down your list of programs to which you want to apply and rank.
  • December – Match applications are due.  After submission, some programs may want to do phone or video or even in-person interviews.
  • January – Your rank order is due and the programs submit their rank order later in the month.
  • February – Match results come out!  The Scramble happens in the event you didn’t match.  Hopefully, you have a position now and can cruise until graduation.

If you aren’t sure if you want to do an internship, that is just fine.  I advise any students who are on the fence to proceed as if they will apply for an internship.  If they decide not to, no worries. But if they did not prepare and decide they do want to apply later, it can be an uphill battle.  Start early and be prepared. Have any questions about how to prepare? Post in the comments!

How to Create the Best Vet School Application CV

The Vetducator - CV image for vet school.

The vet school application CV is not a tremendous make-or-break piece of the application.  The bar is set pretty low- you’ve probably never made a CV before, and evaluators understand that.  However, if you do make a great-looking CV, it may get slightly more notice. That slight notice may be enough to bump your application into the ‘accept’ pile.  So it is worth spending some time on. Here are some guidelines which will help your CV pop.

There is no page limit. CVs do not have a page limit.  Many vet school applicants don’t understand the difference between a resume (which should be 1-2 pages) and a CV (which can be infinite) and try to cram everything on to one page.  Use some white space, include more details. The CV is an exhaustive description of every work-related thing you have done.

Judicious job descriptions.  In veterinary medicine, we generally do not include job descriptions.  I know what a technician or an animal assistant or a kennel worker does.  However, in undergrad you may have pursued some out-of-discipline activities which are valuable experiences.  For example, I don’t really know what a home healthcare provider does. In these cases, you can include a SHORT description of responsibilities.

Reverse chronological order.  Start with the most recent activities in each heading first, then work your way towards older things.  Make sure the formatting is consistent. If you have dates on the left hand for your education, use dates on the left hand throughout.

Emphasize important points.   If you have an important role in a club, like President, highlight that with italics or bold or underline or set it apart somehow.  You want to bring attention to important information. Don’t overuse this, though, or the CV will be too cluttered and difficult to track.

Order according to importance.  For vet school applicants, this will be education, experience, awards, clubs, and references.  You may also have sections for research/publications and teaching. If you have research or teaching experience- even if it is outside the domain of veterinary medicine or even academia- include it.  If you taught ballet in your high school years for 5 years, that reflects a level of maturity and responsibility, which are key qualities for a good veterinarian.

Include extracurricular activities.  For vet school applicants, I think this section is particularly important.  All of the applicants are smart, but a good veterinarian needs good communication skills.  Did you hole up in your apartment and study constantly? You may not be the best vet school material.  Demonstrate that you can relate to other human beings.

Keep it clean.  Use lots of white space.  Use clear section headings.  I use a template from Word and recommend you browse through some templates to find one you like.  Keep the dates clearly separate from the text. Examples below.

Less Clean:

2018        President, Campus Campaign to Reduce Waste in Dining Halls

Dr. Jo Smith, Veterinarian, 1033 This Place Rd, Columbus OH 43035
Dr. Harry Applegate, Owner, Best Friends Vet Clinic, Tempe AZ 85284


2018        President, Campus Campaign to Reduce Waste in Dining Halls


Dr. Jo Smith
1033 This Place Rd
Columbus, OH 43035

Dr. Harry Applegate
Best Friends Vet Clinic
Tempe, AZ 85284

Just having a nicely formatted, thorough, and easy to ready CV will not guarantee you a spot in vet school.  However, if you have qualifications identical to another applicant, and your CV looks like you have spent time on it and made it look as professional as possible, and the other applicant just slapped together a CV without doing any research, which do you think the evaluators will choose?  Me, too.

Making the Best Intern/Resident CV

The Vetducator - VIRMP intern matching statistics.

The curriculum vitae is not hard to do well, and it performs an enormous job.  It has to be organized, clear, detailed, and help create a narrative of what you have done.  There is no one right way to do a CV, but here are some guidelines which will help.

There is no page limit.  Unlike resumes, which should be 1-2 pages, CVs have no page limit.  Obviously, you shouldn’t pad your CV with unnecessary or irrelevant information, but don’t worry about cutting blank space to smoosh it onto a page or two.  Let it be expansive.

No job descriptions.  This is veterinary medicine.  I know what a technician does, I know what a rotating small animal intern does.  I know what RAVS is and what it means to be a club member or a president or a founding president.  Unless it is fairly out of the box for veterinary medicine, we don’t do job descriptions.

Reverse chronological order.  None of this narrative CV nonsense.  Make sure the formatting is consistent.  If you have dates on the left hand for your education, use dates on the left hand throughout.

Emphasize important points.  My name is underlined in all of my publications so it is easy to spot in an author order.  If you have an important role in a club, like President, highlight that with italics or bold or underline or set it apart somehow.  Imagine reading one hundred CVs. It’s easy to let your eye blur over them. Make sure there is something to bring attention to important information.  Be careful not to overuse this, as then it can make the CV look too confusing and all-over-the-place.

Structure according to importance.  Generally, this will be education, experience, research/publications, teaching, awards, associations, miscellaneous, and references.  There are a lot of different sections you can have, but for internship/residency applicants, these are the most common. I recommend putting education and experience in one, so that it is easy to track what you have done from undergrad matriculation through to your current position.

Include extracurricular activities.  Opinions may differ, but I like to know an applicant has a life other than school.  Particularly if you have some kind of leadership or teaching role in your extracurriculars, this can illustrate that skill set.

Remember that academia is about teaching, research, and service.  If you have capabilities in any of these areas, make sure they make it onto the CV.  If you have research, the general order of importance is: first author publication, second or last author publication, any-other-order author publication, manuscript accepted, manuscript submitted, research in progress.  Many many applicants have research in progress which never evolves to a submission. If at all possible, I strongly encourage you to structure your research pursuits to produce a submitted paper by December.

You should be thorough, clear, and make sure the appearance is clean.  No one wants to slog through paragraphs of text in a CV. Use white space.  Make it classy and simple.

Guidelines for the Best Faculty CV

The Vetducator Guidelines for Best Faculty CV - Sign of what you can't do here.

Even if you have experience writing a CV for vet school, internship, residency, or grad school, you can always improve your CV-writing skills.  I see CVs from applicants all the time and think, “Who advised you to do it like this?” There aren’t many rules when it comes to faculty CVs, but you can make the most of your application with a few simple guidelines.

Length.  Make it as long as you like.  The CV is intended to be exhaustive.  Mine is 17 pages, and I trimmed a fair bit of content.

Font.  This isn’t particularly critical, as long as it is readable and not tiny.  I would keep it between 9-12 point font and have seen recommendations that Times New Roman is one of the easier-to-read fonts.

Time.  You probably don’t need to include awards you got in undergrad, or externships you did in vet school.  If you are applying for a new assistant professor position, potentially including awards from veterinary school, internship, and residency are acceptable.  After that, unless it occurred when you were on faculty, you can remove them.

Organization.  Create headlines in decreasing order of importance.  End with references. If you are applying for a clinical position and are residency trained or boarded, open with that.  Then, education and experience are up, with publications close behind. Teaching experience follows, then any other service information.  If you are applying for a non-clinical position, highlighting grant funding is important. Everything should be listed in reverse chronological order.

Headings.  You can chose many or a few, and there is no proscribed list.  Here are some examples of potential headings to get your creativity going: Diplomate Status, Education and Employment, Professional Progression, Publications, Research in Progress, Submitted Research, Research Funding, Grants, Teaching Responsibilities, Mentees, Awards, Associations, Committees, Reviewer Responsibilities, Presentations, Special Skills/Certifications, Conferences, Abstracts Presented, External Rotations, Interests and Activities.

Research.  List publications by year and highlight your position in the author order.  If you have non-peer-reviewed publications which are not obvious (book chapters are obviously non-peer-reviewed), label them appropriately with an * and indicate so at the bottom of the section.  If you have a lot of publications, you can keep a running count.

Teaching.  If you have little teaching experience, list everything and give details (number of contact hours, number of students).  If you have extensive teaching experience, you can summarize. Indicate if you were the course coordinator.

New teacher:

2016 Fall                    Lecturer, SAMS 5373 (Basic Surgical Techniques)                                      – 4 lectures, 16 lab periods (4 labs); 120 students

Experienced teacher:

Principles of Anesthesia                                                         Course Coordinator 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

The CV is a practical document, not a time to express your individuality- that comes from your letter of intent.  When in doubt, include more content rather than less. If you are an Associate Professor or full Professor, you may want to condense some material or drop whole sections which are not that relevant for a search committee.  What other guidelines do you think should be considered for the faculty CV?