What I Learned Reading Intern Applications Last Year

Although time consuming, I greatly enjoy reading the intern application packets we get.  They are packed full of interesting stories, and the accomplishments of these applicants honestly amazes me.  Many of them have faced serious personal hardship- cancer diagnoses, generational poverty, fleeing war-torn countries.  Many of them are truly inspirational.  Most of them are just fine, and a few have some serious flaws in them.  I am going to share some things I noticed reading applications this year which I hope help your own application.  Realize these are my own personal idiosyncrasies and may not represent the majority of evaluators.

CV Considerations

Don’t use a fancy format for CV with information within side panels.  It makes it hard to follow and it alters the display of the PDF.  An example is displayed here. 

DO use a standard CV template and separate out information into appropriate sections.  Don’t have “CE” listed under “Education”; give it its own area.

Including veterinary job descriptions in the CV tells me you don’t know veterinary medicine

Do not list references as “Character references”.  These are professional references.  Why describe them at all?  Just label them “References”.

I expect SOME leadership and/or research experience.  Most applicants have been Treasurer or President of a vet school club or did some tutoring or did a summer research project.  If an applicant has none of those, I make a note of such.  It isn’t a fatal flaw, but it makes me worry that all they did during vet school was study, and maybe they’re not great with people.

I ignored the GPA this year and barely glanced at class rank.  Even when I did know the class rank, I don’t think that knowledge affected my decision.

Personal Statement Considerations

Excellent letters are rare but very impressive to me.  They are well written and tell me about the candidate.  I suspect most of the writers of truly excellent letters have some non-scientific skills (i.e. scored higher on the English than Math portion of the SAT).

Well-crafted phrases are a joy.  “…create a safe and inclusive learning environment…”  “As someone who benefits from a feedback-driven learning environment”  “…the importance of tailoring communication to everyone by never applying judgement…”  “…I am dedicated to creating an environment that celebrates what every clinician, student, and client can bring to the table…”

Terrible letters are recitations of the CV, disconnected stories, stories that don’t go anywhere, and blocks of text.  I have a hard time reading every word of these letters and frequently score the applicant down for them.

If you have something weird in your CV (missing a year of activity, moved countries), it needs to be explained in your letter.  If you jumped around jobs a lot, that has to be explained in the letter.  If you have worked at five different places for only 3-6 months, I’m going to assume you’re hard to work with.  If there was some legitimate reason, you need to explain that behavior.

Letters of Reference

A truly glowing letter of reference (“This person is brilliant, pleasant, and humble, and is the best student I have worked with in the past 5 years”) can balance out a poor CV and letter, but can’t get you back at the top with me.  If you have a poor letter or CV, you’re not going to be in my top third.  Other people may feel differently- I know some evaluators look almost exclusively at the letters of recommendation.

Those are the primary thoughts that jumped out at me as I was reading application packets last year.  I hope these help you in your journey!

4 comments on “What I Learned Reading Intern Applications Last Year

  1. -

    Can’t agree more, great examples! Glad to see you’re still at it!

    • - Post author

      Thanks, glad you agree! Slow output but I’m trying to get a post out at least each month now.

  2. -

    I hope this message finds you well. I poured my heart and soul into writing my letter of intent, and I would be immensely grateful if you could take a moment to read it and share your valuable thoughts and suggestions. Your input means the world to me and would truly help me refine my message. Thank you in advance for your kindness and support.

    • - Post author

      Hello, thanks for reading! Unfortunately, I don’t offer individual reading services at this time. There’s lots of resources on the blog- keep reading around and I think you’ll find a lot to help you! Good luck!

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