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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Career Choices Know No Borders

Let's close out the week with another international reader...

My name is Aina Kamaruzaman and I'm a veterinary student of the newly vet school in Malaysia (the 2nd vet school apparently) and are moving to third year this september. I've been following your blog and I read your post about foreign graduates. I have no intention to work overseas rather than study (because I want to serve Malaysia due to the shortage of vets here) and I have few questions for you since you are the senior vet and probably can understand a typical vet student like me.

1) We are the smallest vet faculty in Malaysia (established in 2008) and we are the pioneer batch for the faculty. How to get ourself in the same level as other vet students in the more established universities because some people (even in Msia) probably wouldn't notice us as vet students. And how do we can promote ourself being recognize internationally so that people worldwide know our existence?

I'll admit to not having a clue on this part, though perhaps my readers might.  Also, this is more the duty of your school's administrators than it would be for you and your fellow students.  As students, you don't have ways to get connected within the international academia community as easily.  One possibility might be to talk to students in vet schools outside of your country and work out an informal exchange program, spending a week or two with them and then having some of those students come to Malaysia to see your facilities.

2) I am moving into third year but still do not know which field I'm going to be involved with when graduated. I've been exposed to field work, ruminants, non-ruminants, horses, small animals, zoos, clinical and laboratory works but still couldn't make up which to choose. Is it normal for a third year student like me have this problem?

Now this I can answer!  Aina, this is actually a very common situation for many students, regardless of where you're going to school.  When I was a veterinary student I considered cardiology, surgery, exotics, and lab animal medicine as possibilities.  I was even the first president of our school's Student Chapter of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine and wrote an article on a career in lab animal medicine.  I ended up going into general small animal practice and developed side-interests in surgery and exotic pet medicine.

It's also not uncommon to change your focus over the years.  I had several professors who started out their careers in one field and ended up doing something completely different.  One of the great things about a veterinary degree is that you have a lot of flexibility in where you work and what you do, and you can change that as you gain experience.

Now you'll need to have a basic idea by the time you graduate so you can figure out where to apply for your first job.  But if your school is a standard four-year program, you still have a couple of years to determine what you want to do.  When you start your clinical rotations, you'll learn what things you really like doing daily, and that should help your decision.

Best of luck!