What is the earliest age someone will accept me for volunteering?

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BoxTheCatfish
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Hey, I've just picked my GCSEs and I'm in Yr8. I'm interested in going into veterinary but its dumb to set myself on something without actually getting any experience. I also know Veterinary is rlly competitive and you need loads of experience . I'm currently 13 and will be 14 in a few months. my brother said that the only way someone would take me is if I knew them (nepotism at its finest!) but I'd appreciate advice from someone actually taking the course. Any advice would be really appreciated!
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Vetofferholder1
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Hi! Firstly welldone on starting so early in trying to find placements and getting that experience😌
So you will probably find places like stables will take you for volunteering now, however places like vets practises do not take under 16 generally. Newmarket equine hospital (if you are interested) do take 15+ year olds however the reason most won’t take under 16 and some under 18 is due to their insurance not allowing it. Also be aware that many unis have a set time frame you need to get any relevant experience in (I believe for example RVC is within 18months of applying) so be aware if you get anything now it won’t count towards your application for most unis- although still great to get to get a feel whether it’s the right course for you!
Another place you could probably look is farmers for lambing (although wrong time of year now) they always need help and I’m sure even if they say no due to your age now if you express an interest they may take you when you are 16 or so.
All my placements were cancelled due to the pandemic however I really struggled to get vet practise placements due to the age issue, all the practises around me were either fully booked with students or over 18. I did manage to get Newmarket equine hospital but sadly that was cancelled due to the pandemic. Future learn have an online work experience course (MOOC) which I had to do as part of my application to notts and Bristol and was very interesting 😁 I think it’s free aswell- it was for me when I did it last year!
So although I’m not currently on the course, I’ve been through the application process for the course and am just hoping and praying I get the grades in august to be officially accepted 🤞🏼🤞🏼 please ask anything else you are unsure of xx
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Vetgirl07
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I think everything that I would say has been summed up in the above post, but I’ll add here that whilst having contacts is most certainly useful it’s definitely not necessary for finding a placement. I found that googling places nearby and calling/emailing them to ask was the best way (worst case scenario is they just say no) and asking them during my placements if they knew any other contacts who’d be willing to take me. Veterinary practices are often much stricter in regards to age but you might be able to find placements at riding schools or dairy farms. It’s absolutely brilliant that you’re starting this early so make up a list of contacts now and try to plan what you’ll spend your holidays doing so you can fit it all in.
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louisvbird
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I agree with both the above posts:

You are unlikely to be able to find many positions in a clinic until you are 16 I imagine, however you may be able to help out at local charities and farms from a younger age. I personally was able to be a "young volunteer" at a local horse sanctuary at age 11 (although I did not start doing serious work experience until age 18) so there are definitely options out there if you really feel the need to get involved so soon.

As mentioned above, some universities do not take into account work experience done more than one or two years prior to your application, and therefore you would be better off continuing to research and do wider reading into your subject before applying in some cases.

Overall, it is not a bad (or even good) thing to do work experience as soon as you can, but make sure you are learning from your placements (as well as not letting them impact on your studies as grades are the most important thing for now). It is always quality, rather than quantity of work experience. What will you learn from this placement? How can you apply this as a student? How will it benefit you as a vet? What does it teach you about the wider profession?

Good luck in your journey to vet school.
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