Making your professional life successful is as much about what NOT TO do as it is about what TO do. The Match is probably the highest-stakes professional selection in academic veterinary medicine- even more so than getting into vet school in the first place. As a result of this pressure, people make a lot of mistakes which adversely affect their professional future. This is not an exhaustive list, just the most prominent ones I have encountered.
1) Trying to game the matching algorithm. Please don’t do this. I know it’s tempting. I did it because I was foolish, didn’t talk to anyone wiser, and the internet was barely a thing. Rank the places you most want to go highest and then move it on down.
2) Not reviewing your application materials. How is it possible there is a misspelled word in your letter of intent? You have spell-check on your writing program, don’t you? Run basic diagnostics and read and re-read your materials. Simple errors like this suggest to me that the applicant isn’t really all that interested in the position. If they were, they would have spent more time on their application.
3) Not sending out your application materials. You must get others to read your letter of intent and CV. Preferably veterinary academics who have looked at many such applications. However, even your friends and family can be helpful. Tell everyone to be brutally honest. Your goal is to get the best application possible, not to assuage your ego. You don’t have to take everyone’s suggestions. In fact, if you send it out enough, you will start to get conflicting suggestions. But you must have others review them. You would not believe the poorly written letters I have helped people improve.
4) Not getting your ducks in a row in time. Hopefully, you strategized your time to maximize your match success. And you did give those writing letters of recommendation plenty of notice, didn’t you? And you have gotten all your materials in well before the deadline, right?
5) Not preparing for interviews. If you apply to institutions which hold interviews, you must do your research and study up on how to do a successful interview. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
6) Delaying the decision. I know some students and interns who waffle on whether to apply to the match and then make a decision at the last second. That is unacceptable. If you THINK you may want to apply, set up everything as if you will. You don’t have to submit your rank list until January. If you put in applications and don’t rank any institutions, you won’t match anywhere and can carry on as if you didn’t go through the Match.
It’s not a long list, but you would be surprised at the number of people who continue to make these mistakes– hence this post. Try to avoid being one of them and let me know if you need help!