Significant Other’s Job During Academia

With only 38 accredited veterinary schools in the US and Canada- and many of those in small rural towns- starting vet school, internship, residency, or a faculty position can be a distinct strain on a romantic partner’s ability to get a job.  Within the US, I count about 10 veterinary schools in a decent-sized city where jobs may be varied and plentiful.  Otherwise, most of the towns are college towns, often far in the countryside, where getting a skilled job may be difficult.  How do you handle your significant other’s job when you move to a town with a veterinary school?  I see three potential solutions- chime in if you have more!

1) Location-independent job.  This is probably the best option, so I’m putting it first.  Since the pandemic, many companies have realized they don’t actually need people on site to do their job.  Some jobs have become completely location independent.  So your significant other can move with you freely, wherever you want to go!  Best case scenario.

2) Local job.  This seems obvious, but can be a challenge depending on the industry/profession your significant other is in.  If they’re in banking, for example, I’m not sure any of the cities with a veterinary school would be satisfactory.  Your significant other may need to compromise on their own career progression while you work on yours.  

This happened with my best friend in college.  His wife was going through vet school, and he was working as an administrative assistant in one of the departments on campus.  The deal was that, once she graduated, he would go to school to get his PsyD.  This has all sorts of repercussions- from personal satisfaction in work to financial consequences of “starting late” for saving and retiring.  In my friend’s case, they got divorced so he didn’t get his “side” of the deal (he still went to PsyD school, it was just much more difficult financially).  My wife ended up being a lab instructor for a year- earning a pittance and far below her two-doctorate-qualifications- primarily to stay “in academia” so her CV didn’t have a big hole in it while I worked at a vet school in a new city for us.

3) Spousal hire.  This is only an option for a faculty position.  I have addressed it before, but the principle is to get a job offer at the university, then leverage that offer into an offer for your (obviously qualified) spouse.  It’s far from a sure thing, though, so I would definitely not make this “Plan A”.

Ideally, your significant other can find something they want to do wherever you are.  But I think this is harder, given the few numbers of vet schools and where they tend to be located.  Work fills an important role in many people’s lives, not the least of which is financial.  Going off to vet school, internship, or residency without your significant other is difficult.  Accommodating their job prospects is an important consideration in the whole process.

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