Location: San Diego, CA
1. What do you currently do now and how did you end up here? Any pit stops along the way and did those pit stops help you get to the career and woman you are now?
Clinical Veterinarian for US Navy Marine Mammal Program in US Army through scholarship received in vet school, doing an externship here and also getting MPH concurrently after quitting my first career as a consultant for Deloitte because I hated it as it was not fulfilling
2. What are your current gaps, barriers, facilitators, or motivators? Any of those in particular that helped you along the way?
Army veterinary work is different then civilian life but I think I chose the right path because I have no debt and have had many opportunities for travel and unique work experiences--particularly with international and public health. Mentorship and clinical experience is less in the military world as a veterinarian because you are tasked with less of an animal mission and have to deal with lots of other stuff like admin, managerial, finance, food, and other stuff; in particular, it can be very isolating as you are usually in charge on your own.
Since I just had a baby, it sucks since the Army only gives 6 weeks of maternity leave vs. Navy/Marine 18 weeks but my current boss and colleagues have been very supportive and I am taking an additional 4 weeks of vacation. Maintaining peer relationships has been very important and helpful for support and motivation. There are great things about the Army to like reimbursement for continuing education, free albeit lackluster healthcare, and other small perks. It's a crapshoot with people--but now, quite a good boss.
3. What is your ideal state / dream state of being as a woman in your career and a woman in this world? How will you get there?
Honestly, I hope to work part-time eventually--though that won't be possible if I stay active duty so I'm not sure if I will. I want to be able to balance my career and my family because they are both important. I could never be a full time stay at home mom.
I plan to stay in the Army for at least another 2 years and see where that takes me...there are many options, stay on another year in my position, go back to school and have it paid but owe more service time, or get out of the military completely and find a job in the civilian world as a veterinarian or public health. I'm taking the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine Certification exam this coming year so that may be a factor for my future direction as well.
4. What common misconceptions do you find about your field, your life, about women in general?
In general, vets are thought to play with puppies and kittens but that's a small percentage of our job-we do hard work and make difficult decisions, deal with awful people (and animals) but it can be very rewarding. People don't realize the Army has vets, let alone, what we do or that there is a dolphin/sea lion program. Furthermore, my life has changed much since having a baby and my husband is gone for a few months (super common for spouses to be physically separated in the military) but I can deal because I have my family here to help, luckily. Women are thought to be emotional and not as able as men but I don't think that's true. Also, women have a harder time speaking up and acting confident.
5. Any advice or tips & tricks you want to give to a younger you? Whether it be how to apt hunt on craigslist to getting your shoes cobble to getting a work mentor etc
Do what you love but think about how to get there quickly-you need a stable, decent job so you can live. Be efficient. Work and play hard. Seek out mentorship. Take opportunities. Have fun. Be grateful. Cherish relationships. Don't sweat the small stuff. Take care of yourself. Do your job. Don't waste your time. Never lose heart!
BONUS QUESTION: What should lead your life: passion or pragmatism? (general thoughts, could be a convergence, could be one or the other!)
Both in moderation aka don't be stupid