Working with animals is, for many, a dream job – and where there are dream jobs, there are also likely to be plenty of people eager to fill them. So whether it’s becoming a vet, working with dogs, farming or landing that equine job you’ve always wanted, here are a few tips to help make that dream become a reality...
Most schools and colleges operate a work experience program. Talk to your careers advice officer to arrange work experience in an appropriate setting. There are also work experience companies who can point you in the right direction and match you with opportunities in your area for your chosen field. A good example is Work Experience UK (Workexperience-uk.com).
Another option is to find work during your gap year: many students combine travel with work experience through companies such as Workaway (Workaway.info) who have hosts all over the world who provide your food and accommodation in exchange for work. Check their hosts for those who need helpers to work with animals.
Veterinary surgeries, riding stables, the RSPCA, farms, dog groomers and zoos are always willing to accept volunteers. The work is often menial – and dirty – but every job you do is another entry on your CV and another reference you can call on for your future employment. Most of us have to start at the bottom of our chosen career path and work our way up, so why not do some good along the way too? Contact your local zoo, animal refuge or vet to have a chat about your options. (Here's a list of UK zoos as a starting point for your research: Zoos.bizland.com.)
In this digital world you can find out any information you need at the touch of a button; you can also connect with just about anyone you need to (who doesn’t have Facebook these days)? Get networking and make some contacts. Research the people you’d like to work for, follow them on Twitter and like their Facebook pages; get to know them through social media and when it comes down to getting a job with them you have an advantage.
Beyond that, who you know is increasingly becoming almost as important as what you know. Set up a fabulous LinkedIn profile, use it as your online CV, update it regularly and follow all the right people on there.
Keep your CV in mind
If your CV reads like a what’s what of the animal world it will grab prospective employers’ attention immediately – providing you can follow it up with glowing references and evidence of training and qualifications. Jobs working with animals are obviously highly desirable and employers may have to plough through hundreds of CVs before applicants get through to the interview stage. You can’t rely on your sparkling personality alone, as you may not get an interview if your CV doesn’t stand out from the crowd. Ask a teacher or a friend to check it for spelling and grammatical errors and don’t use fonts or colours that are difficult to read. (Here are some top tips for you on how to write a good CV: BBC.co.uk/news/business-15573447.)
Training and Qualifications
Finally, experience is all very well but it needs to be backed up with the correct training and qualifications. When choosing your school or college subjects, choose wisely, keep your future plans in mind and check what qualifications you will need for your career.