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Karlien Heyrman
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Shop Assistant, Helios Fountain

Saturday job to get some extra pocket money while at school and during my first couple of years at university. I worked behind the till in a gift/craft/art shop, helped with stock ordering/unpacking, stock checks and my favourite: designing the window displays.

Babysitter/Nanny

I started babysitting for family friends when I was pretty young in Belgium, then moved onto nannying during summer holidays as well. Looked after different family's children in the evenings but also full days during school holidays and even went on holiday with 1 family to look after their 3 children. I started in Belgium but then continued once I moved to Edinburgh when I was 16.

Hostess, Matchpoint

I worked at various hospitality events from the Open Golf, to 6 Nations games at Murrayfield. I had to make sure the day ran perfectly for our guests including welcoming them, organising the waiting staff and trying to help with any requests guests might have.

Gap for charity work

I took a long break after graduating to do all sorts. I worked in a brewery for a month, cycled from Paris to Rome for charity, went surfing in Barbados, worked for a charity in India called IPAN as a vet, locumed (this means temporarily fulfilling the duties of another vet) in Belgium at a vet practice. I also spent 2 months shadowing vets in the UK while I was looking for my first job.

Veterinary Surgeon, Millpark Veterinary Practice

I worked in a rural mixed practice seeing all kinds of animals from hamsters, rabbits, cats and dogs to sheep, horses and cows. A veterinary surgeon spends most of the day consulting and operating on animals. In this job I would see cats and dogs at the practice and then go on farm visits to treat larger animals. Most of the animals we see have a problem or are ill but we also see a lot of animals for routine checks such as annual vaccinations.

Veterinary Surgeon, Companion Care Vets

I worked as the only full-time vet in a brand new practice located within a Pets at Home shop. Veterinary surgeon's duties are similar in all jobs but there are small differences depending on the type of practice. In this job I didn't see any large animals anymore and therefore spent 99% of my time in the practice. Companion Care is part of the Pets at Home Vet Group which also includes Vets4Pets. As the only full-time vet it really felt like 'my' practice even though I wasn't the owner.

Veterinary Surgeon The Brambles

I worked as a vet in an extremely busy small animal practice with 3 branches and worked out of hours (night and weekends) as well. It was a very busy independent practice (as opposed to corporate) and I would consult across the 3 branches every week in the morning and evening and then carry out surgeries over lunch time. I worked one weekend every 5 weeks which sometimes included the nights as well. Every 3 weeks I would also be on call on Thursday nights.

Vets4Pets, Clinical Services Manager

This my first job working in an office as a vet and not 'in practice'. I work for the Vets4Pets Support Office which supports nearly 500 vet practices all over the country. I provide clinical input and advice to practices directly, to other departments in the office and I have clinical projects of my own as well.

I'm originally from Belgium and moved to the UK when I was 16 to finish school and then went to university in the Uk as well. I also lived in Ivory Coast, Italy and Belgium.

I've been a vet since 2010 but don't work in clinical practice anymore.

I love cats, particularly my own cat Wolfie! I also love running and recently started doing some triathlons as well so I'm now swimming and cycling most weeks too. I also really enjoy arts and crafts, from drawing and painting to knitting and sewing. I'm lucky to have travelled a lot already and I'm always looking planning my next holiday to explore new countries and cultures.

English, Italian, Dutch, French
Science and pharmaceuticals

I really wish I hadn't been so hard on myself for leaving clinical practice. Even though everyone tells you that you can do 'anything' with a veterinary degree it is very hard to do so. I wish I'd have had more role models for this. At the same time I think I did need a few years of clinical experience to get my current job. I wouldn't have been able to do this role straight out of university. Every job has its stresses and challenges but now I know it is possible to have a job you enjoy!

My Education
Veterinary Medicine & Surgery Degree BSc Hons
The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
Edinburgh
Biology, Chemistry, English Language, Italian, Mathematics, Physics
Istituto Comprensivo Osio Sotto
Paridaens
George Heriots School, Edinburgh

I really enjoyed school, it was hard work at times but I am quite academic and can retain a lot of information which is very useful when it comes to exams. I needed certain subjects to do the degree that I wanted to do and I think you need to accept you won't like every subject equally. Moving countries and schools was difficult though especially moving to the UK at 16 years old. In hindsight I'm very grateful for the opportunities and experiences all the moving around has brought me.

More about me

Communication is important for any job whether public facing or not. You need to be able to communicate with lots of different kinds of people which sounds easier than it is.
Presentation skills and public speaking because I attend a lot of meetings and sometimes have to present a lecture or take part in a radio interview.
Networking: I attend a lot of conferences and congresses where I meet new people all the time. Networking is an important way to exchange information, get new ideas and develop professional contacts which can be useful to the business in the future.
Organisational and time-keeping skills: I always have a very lengthy to-do list so being able to prioritise means I don't miss deadlines or disappoint people.

Skills take practice, no one is born with a perfect set of skills!
I'm actually quite shy and presenting and public speaking really frightens me but I know that the more I do it, the better I will get and the less nervous it will make me so I take every opportunity I can to do so and try not be too critical if things don't always go perfectly. I'm quite a sociable person and enjoy networking which really helps. It was a massive leap for me to leave clinical practice and start working in an office. The first couple of year I learned new skills all the time. To keep improving I've recently approached a colleague in my office who I admire and we have regular catch ups where she gives me advice and coaches me to become better at what I do.

I always wanted to be a vet. I like sciences and animals so veterinary medicine was a match made in heaven! I also thought about studying languages because I can speak a few and maybe become a translator, but veterinary medicine was always my first choice.

In hindsight veterinary medicine maybe wasn't the degree for me. However, saying that, I love my current job and there is no way I could do it without a veterinary degree!

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