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!