When you feel stuck as a veterinary technician

November 7, 2019
Kristina Guldbrand, CVT, BS, CSP

Kristina Guldbrand grew up in Austin, Texas, and graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in biology with a concentration in neuroanatomy and physiology. She worked as a certified veterinary technician for 12 years before becoming an account manager for Veterinary System Services. In her role as a manager and helping clinics with their staffing needs, she discovered her love of leadership and wellbeing. Since starting work with VSS, she has received training through the International Coaching Federation and provides workshops, leadership and wellbeing coaching as well as teambuilding for practices. She continues to expand her knowledge on perfectionism, neuroleadership, adult learning techniques, communication and organizational psychology to provide up-to-date and effective techniques to her clients.

If youre bumping up against the ceiling of a job as a veterinary technician, its time to have some fun exploring your interests and your passions and doing the work of networking (it wont be so bad). Ready to start?

Victoria Ermina/stock.adobe.comIs working as a veterinary technician a job or a career? While some love it, others feel stuck in what seems like just a job. It isn't always obvious what advancement opportunities there are when you're a vet tech, but with a little creative thinking, there's a whole world of opportunities to explore.

I worked as a Certified Veterinary Technician to gain experience while taking pre-vet courses at Colorado State University. My goal was veterinary school. But after three years of applying to programs and not being selected, I realized there was a limit to what I was willing to do to get in and I let go of my dream.

I found myself wanting more from my job but didn't what to do to get there. I was told I should try pharmaceutical sales, but I would've had to take a pay cut for a year in hopes that I would get a field position. I was also told I could become a practice manager, but that didn't sound appealing either. This was when I decided that if I was going to have the career I wanted, I had to get creative. Here are a few of the tools I used to discover my true calling.

Figure out what you love about your job

In my veterinary technician job, I loved teaching, animal behavior and being challenged. But even after identifying what I liked, I still wasn't sure what to do. I just knew I wanted to incorporate more of those elements in my career.

Then I came across an account management position for a veterinary temporary staffing agency. My extroverted personality, my love of client education and my desire for challenge were qualities I could apply to this new position.

When searching for your career, don't freak out if your first tries at a fit aren't perfect. I found that the higher my expectations were for my current job, the more disheartened I became in it. It wasn't until a few years into my position as account manager that I re-evaluated the parts of my job that I loved and found even more career possibilities I wanted to explore: public speaker, published writer-and even cartoonist!

Switch your perspective from expecting to automatically find a career to a mindset of exploring new opportunities. You're more likely to stay motivated. The process of finding your career is not short or simple, so do the prep work and set your expectations accordingly.

Find chances to network

The more people you know, the more opportunities reveal themselves to you. Many veterinary industry networking groups meet virtually, locally and nationally. Conferences are also a great way of connecting with new people. Check out:

• VetPartners at vetpartners.org

• Local hospital managers groups

• ER Vet Tech Rounds on Facebook

• Vet Tech Nation on Facebook

• Conferences (I've spoken at the Fetch dvm360 conferences)

As an account manager, I inherited HR responsibilities. Because that field was new to me, I looked up my local SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) networking event. I met a wide variety of professionals who helped me learn HR processes and offered me their expert advice.

I know that going to networking events and conferences alone can be intimidating. There's always those awkward introductions. The opening line that helped me break the ice was, “This is my first networking event. Have you been to one before?” This helped take the pressure off, and people were always happy to introduce me around.

Update your LinkedIn profile

The veterinary industry has started using professional networking platforms like Linkedin. Want more opportunities? Get your profile up-to-date and set the option that allows recruiters to reach out to you.

When creating your job description, highlight tasks that are in line with where you want your career to take you. When I was applying for the account manager position, I made sure to put my relationship management and sales skills at the top of the list.

When I was traveling abroad, I met a woman who worked as an instructional designer. We talked about our mutual love of leadership and then connected on LinkedIn. I was curious about the field, so she connected me on LinkedIn to a successful company in the industry, and I worked on the skills I would need to expand my portfolio.

Start talking to people about your interests

Once I got comfortable in my job as account manager, I realized that again I was looking to expand my career. My interest in animal behavior transitioned to a passion for understanding human behavior and leadership development.

I was talking to my cousin about my interest in leadership development and staff wellbeing. She asked if I'd thought about becoming a certified coach. I hadn't heard about coaching outside of high school gym class. When I looked into it, I had found my next career move.

When you start talking about your passions, you never know what discoveries you'll make. To find new possibilities, you need to open the door and invite them in.

It can feel sometimes like there's a career ceiling for you because you're a veterinary technician. That's not true. Realizing your calling is a process of discovery, and it starts by getting curious, talking about your passions and staying motivated.

Kristina Guldbrand worked as a certified veterinary technician for 12 years before becoming an account manager for Veterinary System Services, a company that provides staffing, consulting and hiring help to practices in the Denver, Colorado, area. She has received training through the International Coaching Federation and provides workshops, leadership and wellbeing coaching as well as team-building for practices.