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Mini-interviews boost exposure to jobs, externships

Speed-dating model fosters more direct conversation, experts say
Nov 01, 2007

COLUMBIA, MO. — A ringing bell stops the conversation, capping the get-to-know-you questions and exchange of contact information. On cue, the participants get up and greet another stranger seated at an adjacent table.

What might sound like a round of speed dating is a new concept being used to connect potential employers with employees. Rather than unite soul mates, these quick encounters are designed to link students with career opportunities.

It's a method being used at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, where a student organization developed the concept of quick-hit interviews, broadening students' opportunity to find a job or land an apprenticeship, leaders with the university's Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA) contend.

Roughly 50 veterinarians recruited during last year's Missouri Veterinary Medical Association annual conference tested the speed-networking concept. Armed with resumes and introductory letters, VBMA students attended the interviews, which were categorized based on the practitioner's area of expertise, says Dr. Ronald Cott, VBMA adviser and the veterinary college's associate dean of Student and Alumni Affairs.

Speed-interview outcomes

The format offers a different atmosphere from standard interviews, says Kate O'Brien, a third-year veterinary medical student who landed a preceptorship with an exotic and small-animal veterinarian.

"With this process, you are in a room with a lot of other people. It is kind of loud, a little more laid back, and you only have five to seven minutes. It is a lot more relaxed than getting completely dressed up and knowing you have to talk to a person for two hours," she says.

While not all connections result in meaningful networking, students still gain interview experience and get their names into the marketplace, Cott says.

"Students can be paired with a practitioner they wouldn't normally talk to, but sometimes that person may know another DVM or have a recommendation or suggestion."

Other venues

The program's latest event was held at the Central Veterinary Conference in Kansas City where about 60 students and prospective employers participated.

Practitioners commented that it was a great way to meet students, Cott says.

The January 2008 North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando is hoped to be the program's next event. VBMA is working to compile all participating students' resumes onto a CD that can be passed out to prospective employers.

O'Brien encourages other students to participate. "I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it," she says. "When you actually click with a veterinarian, you have plenty of time to ask questions, exchange information and hope to meet again."