Tag Archives: internship

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!

Making the Most of your Internship Interview

The Vetducator - pawn chess piece left standing when all others have fallen around it.
Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

Internship applicants have it rough.  You are one of a faceless horde trying to get the best position.  Your letter of intent and CV help, and your letters of recommendation are crucial.  Some programs may require an interview, some may allow for one, and others are only irritated if you try to ‘interview’.  In addition to basic interview etiquette, let’s unpack the internship interview.

Scenario 1) They don’t want you to interview.  Many programs receive so many applications that they really don’t want the hassle of trying to interview any of them.  These programs may allow visitation days, but make no mistake- those days are opportunities for you to see if the program is a good fit for you, not for the program to determine if you are a good candidate.  Programs like this want to evaluate every applicant de novo. Spending time at these institutions only helps you know what you are getting in to, it does not help your candidacy.

How do you know if a program doesn’t want you to interview?  You can always ask something like, “Does an externship at your facility factor into your internship selection?”  If doing an externship does not affect their decision-making, an interview certainly won’t. If they do an intern visitation day, you can ask how important that is for their selection process.  Many academic internships do not consider your presence on their campus in any way. At UGA, we actively discouraged intern applicants from coming to visit- otherwise we would have been overrun and expended a huge amount of time for little benefit.

Scenario 2) You may interview, but it is not required.  This probably includes many private practice programs and some academic ones.  The smaller the program, the more important an interview is in their decision making.  If you do an externship or visit and spend time with the program directors, it may positively influence your application.  If this is the case, follow the guidelines on how to act on an externship.

Scenario 3) Formal interview.  Many private practices will do a phone or video interview as a standard part of the intern selection process.  These range from highly technical- “you are presented with an ADR 12-year-old GSD with anemia”- to more behavioral- “describe a situation when you had to demonstrate leadership.”  If possible, establish how long the interview is scheduled for and what you should prepare ahead of time. Follow the suggestions for in-person, video, or phone interviews as appropriate.

Internship interviews are rarely a make-or-break step.  Those programs that do interviews obviously factor them into the decision making.  Don’t worry if they don’t do an interview and don’t spend too much of your valuable senior year clinic time trying to do externships at places to impress them.  Particularly for academic internships, they probably won’t look at you any differently than other applicants. Use your time wisely.

Six Steps to Win the Scramble

You applied through the match for an internship or residency- great job!  Now, 8am on match day has come… and gone, and you are without a matched position.  You still want to do an internship or residency, and there are programs which did not fill all their positions.  What do you do now? Now you Scramble.

The Scramble is the informal term for the process following 8am on match day.  All unmatched applicants scramble to find good positions while programs with unmatched positions scramble to find good applicants.  It is an absolute mess and a travesty of a system. Pharmacy has a two-step matching process to avoid the chaos of a scramble, but veterinary medicine, as always, lags behind.  

It can be an emotional blow to not get matched, but realize that not matching does not mean you are a bad applicant.  The vagaries of the match mean that good programs and good candidates go unmatched every year. Scrambling to pick up an open position is a normal part of the process.  Heck, I scrambled after I didn’t match for a surgery residency and ended up having a terrific career. If you decide to scramble, you can maximize your success with six steps.

Step One: Be Prepared.  I’m sure your application packet is superb because you have followed the advice on this blog.  Nonetheless, the match is capricious, and even the best candidates may find themselves unmatched if they didn’t find a good fit or were too restrictive in their selections.  Be ready for not successfully matching by answering these questions:

  1. Do you still want to do an internship/residency?  If you are disheartened by not matching where you wanted to go, are you still excited at the prospect of going SOMEWHERE?  Decide this beforehand- don’t be wishy-washy in the middle of the Scramble.
  2. Are your materials ready and updated?  Is your CV and letter fully up-to-date?  Can you send them off today with a high degree of confidence they reflect your current state of mind, ideas, and experiences?  If not, get them ready.
  3. Have you looked at all the programs to which you didn’t apply but would consider?  If there’s a position unfilled somewhere, do you have to do research to find out about that position or are you poised and ready to go?
  4. How do you feel about going into a program that is not quite what you wanted?  If you wanted to do a surgery residency, would you ever consider something else for a year which may position you better to apply next year?

If you are prepared mentally and practically, then you may be successful with the Scramble.

Step Two: Don’t wait.  Email programs with open positions at 8:10am on match day.  You can get this list from your institution’s VIRMP administrator.  If you wait a day or, god forbid, a week, most open positions will be filled.

Step Three: Be decisive.  Contact programs with open positions and attach your letter and CV in that initial email.  Tell them why you are reaching out to them. Not just because they have an open position, what you would be excited about if you got to work there?  If you get an offer, you need to be prepared to accept or decline it on the spot. Programs won’t wait for you to decide, because their second choice may be gone by the time you decide to decline.

Step Four: Cast a broad net.  Don’t just send your materials to the top 2-3 places you want to go.  They may fill up with someone else, and by the time you look around, your top 4-6 places may be already filled, too.  Send a message to every open position where you would be happy immediately after the match results come out. Realize that, at this point in the process, there is no more official ‘ranking’.  Just as with the match, though, you need to be prepared to accept any program which gives you an offer. If you get an offer from a place you’re willing to go, but not excited to go, go back to planning in #1.

Step Five: Be attentive.  Don’t send an email and fail to follow up.  If you don’t hear back, a polite follow-up the next day is appropriate.  Most positions get filled in the first few days after the match results come out.  If they reply with, “Thank you, we will be in touch in the next 2 days”, send a follow-up on the second day.  You need to be present without being pushy.

Step Six: Be at peace.  The Scramble is frustrating, intense, and emotional.  Be prepared for the possibility of not finding anything.  Be prepared to commit to a program and have them back out at the last second.  Have contingency plans laid out so you are ready whatever the outcome.

It’s always frustrating to fail to match.  I failed to match for a surgery residency and scrambled.  I even applied for transfusion medicine fellowships and similar programs.  Ultimately I thought, “I can go do anesthesia for a couple of years (residencies were 2 years then) and then go into surgery!”  Here I am 20 years later, perfectly content in anesthesia. As always, the key is to be honest with yourself.

Why You Need an Elevator Speech and How to Make a Great One

How do you sum up everything that you are and do professionally in a short span of time?  This is the premise of the elevator speech- a few lines of dialogue which encapsulate your professional experience, approach, and future.  We don’t use them often in veterinary medicine, but I think it’s useful to have one ready. Let’s look at who the elevator speech is for, some uses for the elevator speech, and how to make a great one.

Use #1 – Talking with non-veterinary types.  Although most of the people you engage with during an interview are in the veterinary field, you may encounter some who are not.  Maybe you have a meeting with a Senior VP (for higher-level positions), maybe you have time with a basic sciences researcher or someone from a different college.  These people need a purchase to stand on and enter a conversation. Your elevator speech gives them a starting point.

Use #2 – You may get asked regardless.  Particularly in larger group interviews, you may get asked to give a quick summary of what you do.  Hopefully, everyone has read your CV and letter, but those don’t necessarily answer this question. If you don’t have an answer prepared, you can flail around looking for an answer.  This question may come up as, “Do tell us about yourself” or “I’ve read your CV- give me some insight into your overall approach.”

Use #3 – Priming your brain.  Similar to a mission statement, having an elevator speech helps to crystalize what you do and why you do it.  This can inform any professional interaction you have, even if you don’t actually say your elevator speech.  You can refer back to it and ask, “Is this still true? Do I want it to be?” You can even ask, “How would this project fit into my image of myself, given my elevator speech?”

Now that we’ve decided it’s useful, let’s work on crafting one.  Here are the few short, sweet suggestions:

1) The most important rule is to keep it short.  One to three sentences- what you could say to someone as you ride an elevator to the next floor.

2) Give some context for who you are now and what you do.

3) Provide an example.

4) Make a conclusion.  Or not. I like to leave the ending opening for a question.  You can see that in my elevator speech:

“I’m The Vetducator, I’m a Professor of Veterinary Anesthesia at the University of Wherever.  I look for improvements in systems- teaching, research, service, policies- using an evidence-based approach.  For example, I measured how students performed on quizzes of varying length over the years to arrive at the best amount of time to balance efficiency with student performance.”

Let’s look at how it hits the four points above:

1. It’s short- 3 sentences.  It takes about 18 seconds to verbalize.  2. The context is I work at this place in this role.  Since people may not know what a professor of anesthesia does, I expanded on what I do on a fundamental level.  Saying “I anesthetize pets and research animals” doesn’t add much to “I’m a veterinary anesthesiologist.” Also, it doesn’t really encapsulate my whole professional approach and philosophy.  3. There’s an example of my research. 4. I don’t give a conclusion because I want to leave them with something to ask. Hopefully, this gives the other person an easy next step in the conversation: “What did you find in your study?”

My wife’s is: “I’m The Pharmducator; I’m a PharmD and PhD at the University of Wherever. I teach pharmacy and other healthcare topics and I research natural products. The project most people are most interested in is my research on the phenolic and antioxidant content of craft beer and its ability to inhibit some of the processes by which diabetic complications arise.”

Let’s look at how it hits the four points above:

1. It’s short- 3 sentences.  It takes about 16 seconds to verbalize.  2. The context includes her degrees, which is important- she can do both clinical and basic sciences work.  She specifies what exactly in pharmacy she does. 3. She gives an interesting publication. 4. She doesn’t include a conclusion, but beer and science are always intriguing to people, so giving them an example, which will make them curious, leads them to asking about it.

The elevator speech is not often found in veterinary medicine, but I think it’s a good tool to have ready, just in case.  I believe it also helps to cement what you are interested in professionally, which can affect your global thinking.

Should I Send a Thank You Note?

The Vetducator thank you note for interviews.

Interviews are tiring events for everyone.  The interviewee has to be ‘on’ all the time.  But the interviewers are taking time out of their busy schedule to meet with you.  Academics always feel overwhelmed and time-stressed. Staff are often underappreciated.  Thank you notes acknowledge the time and energy dedicated to your interview.

Should I Send Thank You Notes?  Yes.  You won’t be cut from the shortlist for not sending a thank you.  But you DO appreciate people’s time, don’t you? Why not show it? This reflects a level of class and professionalism.  Who wouldn’t want to hire the classiest, most professional applicant?

Should I Send a Thank You Note to Staff?  Yes. I always send a thank you note to the staff who helped arrange the interview.  I have gotten reports from my admin during faculty interviews ranging from, “She seemed really nice.  She asked me questions and was interested in the area” to “We drove in silence the whole way.” Staff can subtly alter the perception of your visit- let them know their hard work is appreciated.

Should I Send a Thank You Note to Faculty?  Maybe. I recommend sending one to anyone you spent a significant amount of time with.  These will be the individuals who directly interviewed you. If you had a large session with 20 faculty for an hour, I wouldn’t send a note to all of them.  But if you had lunch with 2 faculty, a note to each is suggested.

Should I Send a Thank You Note to the Hiring Managers/Committee?  Yes. If applying for an internship/residency/faculty position, you should send thank you notes to the decision-makers.  For faculty positions, this is the search committee and the department chair, possibly to include the Dean. For internship/residency positions, this is whomever is in charge of those programs, assuming you met with them (Intern Training Committee, group of specialists for residencies, etc.).

What Should I Say?  I recommend personalizing each note as much as possible.  If you can remember a specific topic discussed with that person, mention it in the note.  If not, you can make it generic. It does not need to be long- 3 sentences are plenty. Begin with “Dear Title Lastname,” and end with “Salutation, Yourfirstname Yourlastname”.  Do not use your title in your salutation. Respectfully, sincerely, with thanks, and regards are all good salutations.

What Form Should the Note Take?  This is up to personal opinion so I will not be prohibitive here.  Your options are email and a physical thank you card. I personally prefer to send a physical thank you card, but an email in this day and age is acceptable.  I feel a physical thank you card is a little classier and more consistent with my professional image- I am a little bit old school and a little bit formal. It can also be hard to find email addresses for some individuals.  If you are concerned about a physical card arriving after the decision-making group meets, an email may be preferable. Decisions are rarely made less than a week after an interview, though, giving plenty of time for a physical note to arrive.

What Happens if I Don’t Send a Thank You Note?  Probably nothing. For vet school, those who interview you may not be on the selection committee.  In this case, after the interview is over, they have no say in your selection. For internships, residencies, and faculty positions, those who participate in interviews will probably have varying levels of influence on any hiring decisions.  I’ve never heard anyone say, “Well, that person didn’t send a thank you note, so I think we should put them lower.”

Does a thank you letter change them from a “no” vote to a “yes” vote?  Unlikely. In the event of two equally qualified candidates, does getting a thank you letter cause them to vote slightly higher for that candidate?  Possibly. It is a very low-cost action to take which may ever so slightly improve your chances of success. Why not send a thank you note?

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

The Vetducator - mentor growing pupil.

You would think this would be simple.  You need a letter of recommendation. You contact someone you think could write one for you.  You ask them to do so. Job done, right? For some reason, I continue to encounter students who do not do a good job with this step. Those students need help, and I am here to give it to you.

The academic career system is predicated on other academics vouching for you.  This process ensures that someone familiar with the position’s demands and your abilities can evaluate your preparedness for the position.  They then write an analysis of your preparedness in a letter of recommendation. Letters are ubiquitous and are variably important, depending on the position to which you are applying.  We will cover elsewhere who you approach to write for you. Here we will discuss how to approach a potential letter writer.

Once you have identified who you want to contact, you have three options: email, phone call, in person.  In all cases, the specific phrase you need to use is, “Would you be willing to write me a GOOD letter of recommendation?”  The good is important. It is often implied, but you need to make it explicit. Otherwise, you may end up with someone writing you a letter of recommendation which is not good.  It is possible even if you ask them to write a good letter that they will not. But most academics are professionals, and if they feel they cannot write you a good letter when asked explicitly, they will tell you. You have three options for initiating this request:

Email.  This is the easiest, lowest-stakes, and generally preferred method.  You have time to compose your message and consider how you want to phrase your request.  In general, you should open with the position to which you want to apply. If you have not been in contact with the person for a year or two, you may mention your current position or your interest in the new position.  The only reason not to use email is when you have an individual whom you know who does not rapidly (or ever) respond to email. Then you may need to resort to other means.

Phone Call.  This requires some preparation and timing can be problematic.  You need to reach them when they are available to listen to your spiel and are not distracted.  After the usual opening pleasantries, you can ask, “Is now a good time to chat?” If not, you may ask about a time to schedule a call.  You should have a plan for what you want to say. If it has been a while since you have been in contact, you should chit-chat about your current status and ask how things have been for them.  You can then make your request.

In Person.  This is usually done with individuals you see regularly and it is just as easy to ask in person as it is in email.  Usually you won’t need much of a lead-up, but asking, “Can I ask you something?” is a decent opener. As with other steps, explain what you are applying for and then make your ask.

For phone calls and in person asks, ALWAYS FOLLOW UP WITH EMAIL.  Send them an email reminder of your request. After you receive a “yes”, regardless of contact, make sure to send a follow up reminder a couple of weeks before the due date.  Reasonable people will find this helpful and not irritating.

What if you get a “no” response?  That’s fine, it’s better to know before they send off an unflattering letter!  Thank them and, if appropriate, you may ask their advice for whom else you could ask.  Hopefully they will give you some constructive advice and, if not, you haven’t lost anything.

Most professionals who are willing to write letters of recommendation are not scary.  It should not be an anxiety-inducing experience to ask for a letter from someone with whom you have worked.  Most professionals will be flattered. Try to be realistic about it. What’s the worst they can say? “No”, and then you know they would not be a good writer!  It’s a win-win. Be bold and respectful and everything will be fine.

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.

Should You Take a Break Before an Internship?

The Vetducator - Image of vet career progression with option private practice step.

Many times, new graduates are on the fence about doing an internship versus going into private practice.  I have heard several say, “Well, maybe I will go into practice first, and then come back and do an internship.”  Although this is not impossible, it is very much the harder path.

Internships and, to a lesser extent, residencies, are designed to fit within a certain career progression.  Vet school leads to internship leads to residency. This is rarely deliberate on the part of the program supervisors, but it is a side effect of a number of differences between academia and private practice.

Letters of recommendation.  When you are a senior student, you will get letters from specialist clinicians who work with you in that context.  If you go into practice, who will write your letters? Your former faculty perhaps, but they haven’t worked with you as a veterinarian- they can only speak to your performance as a student six or more months ago.  Your boss and colleagues in practice probably don’t have much experience writing a letter of recommendation for an internship or residency, and this lack of experience shows plainly when evaluators read applicant packets.

Mentoring and advocacy.  If you are at an academic institution, you have mentors who know the system and can give sound advice on how to proceed through it.  I routinely would get an email from an anesthesia colleague who was on the internship selection committee at their institution asking my opinion on the list of students applying that year from my institution.  I knew them and had worked with them, so could advocate for them. The boss at your practice is almost surely not getting that same email.

Money.  Oh man, is it addicting to get a real paycheck.  I remember going from a resident salary to a faculty salary and thinking, “How am I going to spend all of this?”  Fortunately I saved/invested a lot of it, and you should, too. But many people get the big paycheck and realize, “Hey, I don’t have to eat ramen every week!”  It is very hard to go from earning a fair salary in practice to a third or less in an internship or residency.

Habits.  I don’t agree with this, but I do know program evaluators who are worried about those who have been out in practice coming back to academia with bad habits which will have to be corrected.  I know one prominent neurologist who wouldn’t consider an applicant if they had graduated more than 3 years before applying for a residency for this reason.

Ego.  Are you prepared to go from being The Doctor to being a cog in the wheel of academic medicine?  You have clients who look up to you, even if you’re “the new doc,” you have a certain degree of authority.  In an internship, you will have to swallow your ego and be OK being near the bottom of the ladder. I know some programs who are concerned accepting applications from those who have been out in practice too long, because they are worried the applicants’ ego will be too developed to be teachable.

I know some residencies- notably radiology- tend to take a fair number of applicants who have been out in practice for several years.  In general, though, most programs will select those who have gone through a more traditional route. You can be successful going out into practice and then coming back into academia, but it is an uphill battle.

Writing a Good Internship Letter

The Vetducator image of career progression with arrow at internship.

This is a specialized version of a post I have about general application letter writing advice, aimed at intern applicants.

It may be impossible to describe a letter written by a highly-ranked internship applicant, but we will apply Justice Stewart’s test– I know it when I see it.  Given the wide variability in internship evaluators, and the subjective nature of the process, can you actually write a good letter of intent?  The answer is yes. Let’s do it.

Once evaluators have whittled down the list by tossing those applications which are clearly unacceptable, they will more carefully review the remainder.  You want to be at the top of this list. While your entire application packet matters, the letter is fully under your control right now. It is one of the few ways you can connect with the evaluator and they can get an idea of who you are as an applicant.  You have to make the most of that opportunity.

Your letter should achieve the following goals:

  • Tell them why you want an internship.
  • Demonstrate good communication skills.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of what the internship entails.
  • Illustrate why the program should choose you over another applicant.
  • Create some memorable or interesting personal detail for the evaluator to remember.
  • Avoid all of the mistakes previously described here at The Vetducator

Tell them why you want an internship.

If I have to read another letter that starts, “I want to pursue an internship because I want to continue my education” I will punch my computer.  OF COURSE YOU WANT TO CONTINUE YOUR EDUCATION, THAT’S WHY YOU’RE APPLYING FOR AN INTERNSHIP! As a general rule, don’t waste space in your letter writing anything that is self-evident.  I understand why you do it- you need to open with SOMETHING, and this describes your motivation in the most simple terms possible. Instead, open with the position to which you are applying and be specific about what you are looking for and what you can offer.

Demonstrate good communication skills.

In addition to avoiding grammar and spelling mistakes, you want to be articulate.  I will devote an entire blog post to this topic because it is expansive. In general, be sincere, use simple (but not simplistic) language, use punchy sentences, use appropriate openers and closers, present your thoughts in an organized way, use paragraphs, create narratives, and use good punctuation.  You may also demonstrate good communication skills by relating a story of a challenging communication you had with a client, another student, clinician, etc. Everyone knows communication is essential to any job- show them you can do it well.

Demonstrate an understanding of what the internship entails.

Everyone knows you work a lot during an internship, but what is “a lot”?  How do you know? Do you just see the interns at the hospital late at night, do you talk to them, do you have a family member or friend who did an internship?  What else do interns do? You want to show the evaluators that you know what you are getting in to. They want to know if you have what it takes to be successful at this job.

Illustrate why the program should choose you over another applicant.

This is the real kicker, and consequently almost impossible to pin down.  You need to draw from your experiences and who you are and showcase your best characteristics.  Don’t just tell them what you did in school. They have your CV, they know WHAT you did. WHY did you do it, WHAT did you learn, HOW does it make you a better person and candidate?

Create some memorable or interesting personal detail for the evaluator to remember.

First, make sure your details are not too quirky- this turns off some evaluators.  What you want is when they are reviewing the 40-60 shortlisted candidates and your file comes up, one or two of them will say, “Oh yeah, that’s the one who talked about learning about One Health when visiting a small village where the animals and people all mixed together.”  This is not essential, but if you are able to pull it off, it is a slight one up in your favor.

Avoid all of the mistakes previously described here at The Vetducator.

Please?  For me?

At the end of the day, you have to express yourself, and no rules or formula can tell you how to do that.  Have others review your letter- friends, classmates, mentors. When you get suggestions for changes, though, you don’t have to accept all of them.  We can probably take 100 people and generate a ‘typical’ good letter, but it won’t be YOUR letter, it will be a regression to the mean. Now get out there and write!