Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Veterinary Journalist

As a May 2011 graduate, Kate Spencer was part of one of the last graduating classes from CU's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

"I really never thought of doing journalism in high school, but decided I might as well try out CU's SJMC when I came to CU in 2007," Kate explains. "When I got involved with the CU Independent, CU's online news source for students, I discovered that I loved journalism."

That love of journalism led Kate to the CU Independent, where she held multiple editorial positions, including editor-in-chief, before graduating with a double degree in journalism and international affairs. In addition to journalism, Kate has also been passionate about animals since she was a child, when she would constantly rescue wild animals and try to convince her parents to get another dog. 

Now, she has combined these two passions in her job as an online reporter/editor for Trends Today, an online source for veterinary news that is produced by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

"Finding a way to combine my natural love of animals with my journalism skills was the best thing that could have happened to me right out of college," she said.

As a veterinary journalist for Trends Today, Kate writes, edits, develops and posts content to the website. She's also working on redesigning the AAHA's Web content management system, and she's a member of the AAHA's Social Media Task Force. Kate says that the most fun part of her job is that her coworkers always bring their pets into the office, so she's always surrounded by animals, and that she loves all of the traveling she gets to do as she attends conferences all over the United States.

Kate found out about her present job from her former internship coordinator at the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), where she served as a social media intern during her junior year.

"My former internship supervisor from the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association called me one morning and said she had found me a job that I would love," Kate explained. "She said she had already talked to the hiring manager there and had already sent along a letter of recommendation — all I had to do was send my resume and officially apply! If I had never had the internship with the CVMA, I wouldn't have my current job."
What does a day in Kate's life look like?
> From 6:30 to 7:30 a.m., she wakes up then checks her email and responds to anything urgent.
> From 7:30 to 9:00 a.m., Kate makes the daily hour and a half commute to work. 
> From 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., Kate reads the veterinary news of the day and posts at least one story online about what is happening to various social media outlets.
> From 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., she works on more in-depth stories that will be published later in the week.
> From 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., Kate attends a departmental meeting for Trends Magazine and Trends Today, the online news source.
> From 2:00 to 3:30 p.m., Kate meets with the social media task force.
> From 3:30 to 5:00 p.m., Kate works on redesigning the Trends Today website before heading home for the night.
What's ahead for Kate?
"I love my job – I think that’s a very rare thing to be able to say these days. There’s really nowhere else I’d rather be right now. I love knowing that I am putting my degree to a good use and am making a difference while I do it. I would like to get into government work someday, either in policy or communications, but I love where I am now. I know I also want to go back to school in the next five or seven years, likely to law school. CU is also an incredible atmosphere – I love the university and will always remember the opportunities it gave me and the friends and connections I made during my time there. I would love to come back someday and work in communications for either the Boulder campus or the CU system."
What advice would you offer current CU students?
"It was really my practical experience throughout college that landed me a job after graduation. To be competitive in today’s job market, students really need to tap into the resources the university offers and connect with professionals in the CU community."