Going the distance: Can new graduates keep pace with the greatest generation?

Going the distance: Can new graduates keep pace with the greatest generation?

Nov 01, 2004

February 2002, East Coast Veterinary School, USA Jamie Starks sat munching on her lunch. She was thumbing through a notebook containing various job listings that had been sent to the university. Joanne was looking over her shoulder.

"Here's one that pays $50,000 with no emergency and a big benefit package," she exclaimed.

"I know, I saw it yesterday," Joanne chirped. "It is in the middle of town though, and the shopping around that area is atrocious."

"Here is one near a ski resort in Vermont. The pay is low, but I love to ski."

"Look here. Here is a large animal practice in Nebraska offering $85,000 and a truck if you will just come and join the practice."

Both Jamie and Joanne looked at each other and laughed out loud and started singing an often-repeated lunchroom jingle in rap style,

"If its' a snowin', we ain't a goin'."

"If its' a blowin', we ain't a showin'."

Jamie started to laugh so hard that the peanut butter sandwich that she had been eating blew out over the notebook. It was Joanne's turn, and she laughed like a bazooka. Her side started to hurt so bad she had to walk around the room. The class consensus was that no one was going to Nebraska without a new Hummer to sweeten the deal.

Dr. John McAdam walked in the room to pour a cup of coffee. John was a clinician that had been named student advisor for the third- and fourth-year students. He was well liked.

He walked over to see what the students were doing. He slurped at the bitter brew and managed to drip a few drops of java on his new tie.

"Whatever you do, don't take less than $55,000, and make sure that you get every benefit up front that you can negotiate. We had a student last year that demanded a $2,000 signing bonus and got it," he said.

"Wow that would be great. My priority is that I want to make sure that my first practice has state-of-the-art equipment and a good emergency clinic nearby. I really don't want to work more than 35 to 40 hours max." Jamie added.

John went on to explain that it is important to negotiate the best financial package that you can possibly manage. He noted that you have made this enormous sacrifice, and now is the time to cash in all that hard work.

"Besides," he says, "paying off that enormous school loan is a priority. It's about time for those stingy practitioners to pony up."

Joanne's side had finally quit hurting, and she was taking this all in. She had maxed out her loans but had been able to lease a new Toyota with their help. Early on in veterinary school, she had insisted on living on the edge of town in a comfortable duplex. The Toyota had been a "necessity" since she was more than three miles from campus. Her parents helped her some, but she figured she still would graduate with an accumulation of student debt near six figures. She never had worked a real job in her life, and she now was apprehensive as she approached the interview process.

October 2004, Suburbia Animal Hospital

Joanne looked at the clock. She had come in a few minutes early to check on Millie, the hospitalized Dachshund with a disc problem. It was now 4 p.m., and she boldly walked to Dr. Henry's office. Dr. Henry owns the practice. On his desk were the usual pile of bills and heaps of papers that were in a slow but progressive march to completion.