Shadow as many different jobs as you can! From the age of 5, I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian. I have always loved animals and started volunteering at various shelters as soon as I was able at 15. When I graduated high school, I started the pre-vet program at the college of my dreams and landed an unpaid internship/volunteer/shadowing opportunity at a vet clinic with an awesome veterinarian my first semester. That same semester, I applied to become a volunteer at the Humane Society’s hospital (since I had been volunteering with their dogs and cats for 3 years) and got accepted. I was scheduled to start volunteering that March. At the end of my first semester, I landed a job at Petsmart in their pet care field, and while for most people it isn’t a ‘dream job’, it definitely was one of mine since I had the opportunity to work with many different animals and help out families.
And at the end of my first semester, I knew I was in the wrong field.
I hated the ‘business’ aspect of becoming a veterinarian. I hated the financial part and how, realistically, a clinic is a business and while the staff at the clinic were compassionate about animals, it all boiled down to money in the end. Owners had to have enough money to save their animal’s life and if not, there was no hope for their pet. Everyone was so desensitized to the torment of these animals; I made myself watch an euthanasia and balled my eyes out. They said it would get easier but I dreaded going back to the clinic Tuesdays and Fridays. I thought I wanted to work in shelter medicine, but after a tour of the Humane Society’s hospital, knew it was worse. There is not nearly enough money to help all the animals. Euthanasia is, realistically, the only option for many homeless animals that came in; when I realized I’d have to work with animals who were dying every day without any owner to speak of, it broke my heart.
I hated the classes. I hated chemistry, physics, and calculus, and although I loved biology (I always have) I can’t go to vet school with zero passion for the other sciences. My heart was crushed. I had dedicated so much of my life preparing for this dream, and after only my first semester, I knew it wasn’t meant for me.
Second semester I withdrew from the Humane Society’s hospital position and only lasted another month in my internship. I ended up failing 2 classes that semester, and coming from a student who had always gotten A’s and B’s since kindergarten, I felt like my future was over. But my saving grace was my job at Petsmart. I LOVE my job. Loved it then, and I love it now. I realized my favorite part of my job isn’t taking care of the animals or giving them medicine or cleaning their habitats: it’s talking to families, teaching them about animals and animal care, and helping guide them into the right direction for whatever animal is right for them. A coworker said to me once, “You would make a great teacher. You’re very passionate.”
I was moved by this but carried on the semester as a pre-vet major. Then, on the first day of finals, after dealing with weeks of stress and anxiety on how I would perform on my upcoming exams, I had a dream. It was very, very vivid. I was walking in my college and travelled up a building to the top floor where it was lined with classrooms. Children were filled in each room. I went to the last room and an older woman handed me a file and said, “Okay, Megan. These kids are all yours. You get to teach them.” I was overcome with so much joy I started crying in my dream. When I woke up, I felt a sense of peace I hadn’t felt all year. I was thrilled by the prospect. So that day, I texted my mom and told her, “Mom, I think I’m going to be a teacher” (which surprised the hell out of her) and arranged to shadow a second cousin who runs a fourth grade classroom.
And I absolutely LOVE it. I have since shadowed teachers in 3rd grade, 4th grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, and 8th grade, and hope to shadow teachers in younger grades, too, so I have a complete picture of the field. I am now in my second semester of sophomore year and will be applying to the teacher’s college in March; if I get accepted, I get to formally join classrooms as an intern.
So shadow and explore and observe as MANY careers as you can! Had I not witnessed what being a vet was really like before, who knows where I would be?