Alrighty then, the ethics stations are in the bag, but what about the work experience station? Well I’m getting to that now…..
The work experience station
Clue’s in the name with this one. You’ve put in the effort sh*t shovelling for the past 18 months and now it’s time to show it off a bit. There are a couple of things to consider though before you start word vomiting about how you saw a nail clip at the vets and it changed your life …
1. Have a plan
The topic of work experience will probably come up in one way, shape or form, even if you get it at a panel interview instead of an MMI. With that in mind PLAN. Now, they may ask a specific question about your work experience or give you a broad ‘tell me about your work experience’ style statement. Either way being prepared is best.
Write out all your work experience placements in a list and next to each one write ONE memorable experience and the skills you think you gained from them. Then rank them. The ones you rank higher will be the ‘best’ experiences e.g. mine was working at an animal testing unit, and the ones you gained the most from.
MMIs don’t last forever. If you plan to talk about your experiences from ‘best’ to ‘worst’ then you make sure you definitely get the good ones in and discuss them, then if there’s time you can talk about the rest.
2. Don’t list
Yes, I understand that this is almost directly contradicting what I just said but STILL. Bear with me here. What I mean by this is don’t just say: ‘I worked at a kennels, and I worked at a vets, and I went lambing, and I went to a dairy farm ……’ because it’s just a terrible idea. Use your plan from before to flesh it out a bit to give 1. the title of the placement, 2. a memorable SHORT anecdote, and 3. WHAT YOU LEARNT. I’ll give an example: I worked at a vets, I was able to observe surgical procedures including a cat spay and a TPLO, I learnt about the importance of teamwork in surgery, the cleaning regimes in place to prevent spread of disease, the importance of gloving and gowning etc.etc.etc.etc. Obviously turn that example into conversational english, but essentially think of this as a more succinct version of your personal statement.
3. Don’t stress
Like I said, MMIs don’t last forever and you’ve been cramming the last 18 months with as much menial labor as you can manage. You will next to definitely not cover everything but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It’s better to spend more time on the ‘good’ experiences (you know, from your plan. DO IT) and emphasising what you gained from it than trying to rush. Likelihood is that you’ve already filled out a work experience form, or put it in your personal statement. If you’ve gotten horrendously sidelined and only spoken about one thing, you can always say ‘I’ve completed far more than this which I have included in my personal statement/work experience form’.
Also, it could be that you start talking about your work experience (from your ingeniously crafted list) and your interviewer picks one thing and questions you about it. E.g. you start talking about lambing and your interviewer asks you about how ewes behave when they’re about to give birth, or when you think you should intervene on a lambing etc.etc.etc.etc. THIS IS OKAY TOO. If your interviewer is keeping you on one topic, then stay on topic! They’re the ones marking you after all!
4. KNOW YOUR SH*T
Right now, you have time to prep. SO PREP. Read around your work experience placements – did you see any interesting surgeries? what was wrong with the patient? What vaccines do puppies and kittens need? (If you talk about seeing consults, it’s expected you’ll have seen these at least once). Essentially they’re assessing whether you were checked in (in the brain way, not the facebook way) when you were on your placements. If you weren’t / have forgotten everything that isn’t on the A level syllabus, FAKE IT. You can go on youtube and watch lambing videos, you can google vaccines and procedures. Learn anything new / that you will definitely forget before your interview? Write it in a folder that you’ll take to interview with you! (See, it’s all coming together).