Student by day, vet by night

Senior balances school with vet tech internship


Photo courtesy of Aaliyah LeCompte

Senior Aaliyah LeCompte gives a cat its vaccinations while working at a local animal hospital.

Charlie Davis, Writer

It is imperative to distinguish that not all jobs are the same, especially when it comes to internships. Some interns’ sole purpose is to make coffee runs or file paperwork. According to senior Aaliyah LeCompte, her internship at North Orange Animal Hospital is quite the opposite. 

“Sometimes it can be chaotic, but I do have the best times working at the clinic,” LeCompte said. “The animals help me to have a better day when school was horrible.” 

Do not be confused by the title of “intern”; LeCompte is a committed staff member at the Animal Hospital. Just because she is still in high school does not mean that she can’t handle this part-time position in her after school hours. This internship will help her on her track to becoming a veterinarian one day. 

“I get about 6-15 hours a week,” LeCompte said. “It depends on if the doctor is there because we also have another clinic that he owns.” 

Both jobs and internships come in all shapes and sizes, each with its own set of tasks and responsibilities. However, an internship at an animal hospital comes with a rather interesting and unique pool of responsibilities.  

“My responsibilities include restraining animals for their vaccines, reading fecal charts to see if they have any parasites, answering phones, making appointments, and filling prescriptions,” LeCompte said. “I guess the main part of my job is discharging animals after surgery and building a relationship.” 

It seems like a given that working at an animal hospital comes with handling the animals that come through. Handling the animals may be considered “work” but everyone knows that in reality, it is really just a professional way of playing with the cute pets without being called out on it. 

“I work with the animals all of the time,” LeCompte said. “Not a day goes by where I don’t interact with them.” 

Some may say not to mix work with pleasure, but many people probably have a favorite activity to do while working. From sleeping on a lunch break, to playing games on a computer, there are countless ways to have fun at work. 

“Doc plays music every day, which is cool because I love to listen to music when I work on anything,” LeCompte said. “The puppies that come in make my day, as well.” 

A lot of things can happen during the work day, which means there are many chances for things to go awry. When things don’t go according to plan while on the clock, it can be quite easy to laugh at a funny turn of events. 

You never know what is coming in. You have to be quick on your feet.”

“One Thursday in the summer, I was weighing the animals for surgery,” LeCompte said. “There was this one cat that jumped out of the kennel and tried to run away. What I did was grab its tail and then it scratched my hand and I let it go. I reluctantly grabbed it again in order to keep it from running around the shelter.” 

Working at an animal hospital sounds like a lot of fun, and can look just as fun on paper. Playing with puppies, feeding the birds and petting the cats – what could go wrong? In reality, there are a lot of moving parts behind the scenes that people do not always know about. 

“Being a vet intern is not for people who can’t handle gory things,” LeCompte said. “You never know what is coming in. You have to be quick on your feet, always thinking ahead so that you can help the doctor. Be prepared.” 

Working a part-time job while being a full-time student is nothing to scoff at. It fills up one’s schedule in no time and can cause some serious burn out – especially for someone like LeCompte, who balances working, studying, and multiple extracurricular activities. Not only does she work and go to school, but she is the yearbook editor, plays tennis, and is an active member of multiple organizations. 

“Time management is an issue, because I always have to work my schedule around the clinic’s,” she said. “It’s okay because my tennis coach knows that this is part of my future and is willing to work with me.” 

Her time as a vet intern has taught LeCompte many valuable lessons, both in her future career and in life in general.

“Working at the clinic has helped me learn how to juggle multiple things at a time,” she said. “It has also taught me to always be one step ahead.”