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I am twenty-five years old, and have been fascinated with animals since I was very little. My ambition when I was young was to one day become a veterinarian. I was fortunate to grow up in a home where animals were considered part of the family. I don't think there was a period in my life in which I didn't have a cat or a dog, sometimes even four at once! Right now my career choice is to be a veterinary technician. It is not the same as being a veterinarian, but it allows me to work with animals and to work with patients that I love.

When I go to work, I never know what to expect. Over the years, I have encountered many different animals and situations. Some days animals will come in who just need their vaccinations. Other days, there have been animals that come because they've been hit by a car or they've been shot. It's amazing the ability that these animals have to heal and to endure. I have witnessed an animal who came in who had been hit by a car and had her leg hanging on only by skin. When she was on the table being examined, I patted her tummy and she just wagged her tail. Even though she was in pain, the touch of my hand on her belly was enough to make her happy.

Another part of my job involves dealing with more difficult situations. When you work in a veterinary clinic, you get to know your patients. You feel a bond with them and their owners. There is a time, though, when the pet may get sick or may get hit by a car and the doctors cannot do anymore to save it. Then the owner has to decide whether euthanasia, or putting the pet to sleep, is best for the animal. That is when my job is the hardest.

Being a veterinary technician involves a lot of grunt work. My job lets me handle cute, cuddly creatures, but it also has me handling creatures that bite and scratch. It can, like any career with animals, be dangerous at times. I have been bitten by a dog and scratched and bitten by a cat. Both times I had to go to a doctor for my wounds.

If you think you might want to be a veterinary technician, take a day and visit a veterinary hospital to see what it's like. And ask yourself some simple questions like: Can I handle animals in pain? Does blood bother me? Do weird smells make me sick? These are situations that you will have to deal with if you work as a veterinary technician.

—Pilar, a vet tech from
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Making Cents Out of Summer

Summer, some say, is the sweetest of seasons. And with long days, lots of sunshine, and no school, who would argue otherwise? But if you're like many students, summertime spells more than countless hours spent soaking in the rays or hanging out with friends. Indeed, unless you've found a way to make money grow on trees, your three-month “vacation” likely includes a four-letter word: work.

Holding down a job, of course, doesn't mean the end of summer fun. In fact, a little hard work is a good idea for several reasons. For one, you'll get your first taste of what it's like to be financially independent. You can use the cash you earn to pay off bills or buy things you “need,” like movie tickets, clothing, or a bike. Second, if you play your cards right you might find your work experience to be the perfect stepping stone toward a better job the following summer or even toward a future career.

If you've already bagged the job of your dreams, you're a step ahead of the game. If not, it's time to get in gear. “There is a job out there to fit almost any personality,” says Marshall Brain, author of The Teenager's Guide to the Real World. “The important thing to recognize is you do have options.” In determining just what those options are, it's a good idea to assess your situation and the reasons you need a job in the first place. Do you need to make $3,000 because that's the only way you'll be able to pay all of your expenses? Or is money not an issue? If how much money you pocket is not high on your list of priorities, consider an unpaid internship with a local business or volunteering somewhere like an animal hospital. “You won't make any money,” says Brain, “but the experience can be invaluable.”

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCool Careers Without CollegeVETERINARY TECHNICIAN - Description, Education And Training, Outlook, Profile, Making Cents Out Of Summer, For More Information