Ariana McCottrell said that "engaging with the animals was the most fun part of the summer." During this past summer, McCottrell, she/her, completed her University of Maryland Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA) internship! McCottrell is currently a second-year student at the IAA studying Ag Leadership and Communication with an interest in animal sciences, and her internship was working as an assistant vet technician. When speaking about her motivations for her field of study, she said “I've always loved animals.”
McCottrell worked at the Animal Medical Center of Watkins Park, in Upper Marlboro, MD. She was working on a self-designed schedule between April and August of 2022, which allowed her to exercise skills of prioritizing professional responsibility with personal needs. The veterinarian who supervised her was Kristen Hogue and Dr. Caprice who both gave a lot of initial support.
When describing her position, she explained it to me as “think of it as a doctor and a nurse, where the doctor is the veterinarian and the vet tech is the nurse.” During her time there, her main responsibilities included sterilizing utensils and countertops, filling medication prescriptions, removing catheters, drawing blood, running blood samples, collecting stool and urine samples, as well as observing various procedures and surgeries. Her position was unpaid, but it was a good learning opportunity for her to train on the job.
She wanted an internship given her desire to gain career knowledge as well as complete her IAA certificate. Her choice to work at the Animal Medical Center of Watkins Park was intentional. It was a good fit for her since it was close to home and had good reviews. When McCottrell went in to visit she felt confident in choosing to work there “because they have a positive and caring environment overall, they really care about the customers and the animals.” Working with many different animals over the summer gave her the opportunity to connect with lots of animals in a short period of time. When speaking with her academic advisor, Thomas Mazzone, he said that her specific role “allowed her to see multiple facets of the business including data and record logging, surgery prep, supply and material inventory, and much more.”
She is passionate about what she is studying because “dogs are treated unwell and they can't defend themselves”, and personally for McCottrell, she wants to work with animals because “there not a lot of black veterinarians, or black female veterinarians, or in agriculture at all, so I said why not!” Although she initially wanted to work as a veterinarian and do surgeries, she now wants to move more quickly into her career as a veterinary technician to do research. She feels confident that her new skills are transferable to another office.