As we wait for another academic year to begin, we’re revisiting some of our past “Three questions for …” features to catch up with where these folks are now. Dr. Kristin Wuellner (Auburn ’16) was one of our earliest student features, from 2014! She has come a long way into her career now. Congratulations, Dr. Wuellner!
We have new questions for her:
How did your participation in the VBMA at the leadership level change your perspectives while you were a veterinary student?
In veterinary school, it’s so easy to have tunnel vision living from test to test, rotation to rotation. The VBMA helped open my eyes to life outside of the classroom. At the local leadership level, it was great to gain an appreciation for my fellow leaders who were also planning meetings, arranging catering, contacting speakers, etc. It can be super stressful, especially when the other students seem unappreciative for how much work has gone into a “simple” lunch meeting. The VBMA was one of the greatest lessons in servant leadership and “leading by example” I’ve ever received.
At the national level, I began to realize how much more there was to veterinary school than getting top grades. National board members are exposed to an extensive network of leaders in industry and organized medicine, speakers, and practice owners who are invested in the success of the VBMA and its members. After meeting so many people I admired, I realized how important it was to be well-rounded. Grades are important, but they aren’t the only thing that is important. The ability to network, develop business skills, and focusing on non-clinical skills like communication and interpersonal interactions are critical to success outside of the formal veterinary curriculum.
In retrospect, what was the highlight of your VBMA experience?
The value that the VBMA has brought to my life and career is beyond words. I feel I owe every success and opportunity I’ve encountered in my limited career to my involvement with the VBMA. The highlight of my experience was the bond and friendships made with my fellow national board members. We were (are) all so different- personality, careers, geographic location, long-term goals — and yet when we worked together, it was the most supportive, respectful, and engaging team I’ve ever been a part of. I’m beyond thankful for this group of women and the amazing friendships I still share with all of them today.
What are you doing now, and how do you think that relates to your VBMA experience?
I’ve just started with Hill’s Pet Nutrition as a Digital Education Specialist on the Professional Veterinary Affairs team. This role is intimately connected to my VBMA experience as the National Marketing Director because this is where I discovered my passion for marketing, communications, and outreach. During my time with the VBMA, I connected with Beth Green, the CEO of Brief Media, during a sponsor breakfast, and she complimented some creative and copy-writing work that I created for the organization. We stayed in touch, and I reached out last year to ask for advice how to gain more experience in veterinary marketing and scientific writing. Instead of advice, she offered to let me complete a project for her as a chance to showcase my skills. She ended up loving the project and took a chance on me by offering me a job as an independent contractor with her company! My portfolio with Brief Media was the most important experience that led to being hired at Hill’s.
Ultimately, it is the skills that the VBMA instilled in me that have led me to success. The value of creating and maintaining a professional network is the most impactful lesson I learned. Basic business skills like resume writing, contract negotiation, and interview preparations were extremely helpful for the corporate environment as well.
Thanks, Kristin, and best wishes going forward!