I recently became a follower of an interesting Twitter account, @VetSchoolDiary. Chris is a veterinary student who tweets about his experiences as a veterinary student. What a great idea!
Chris shares his story here about why he, a resident of the UK decided to pack up his bags and move to Slovakia for his veterinary education. The main reason for his decision is that the UK does not have a loan system that he can access.
He now needs to raise £40,000 over 4 years in order to stay in school.
I enjoy Chris’ tweets about his life as a vet student. Here is an example:
There is nearly double as much blood in the veins of the body as there is the arteries! #vetschool#vetdreamteam#fact
— Chris VetSchoolDiary (@vetschooldiary) January 3, 2013
But, the vast majority of Chris’ tweets look like this:
Its important to fight for what you believe. I will find monthly sponsors to help me become a vet! Do you believe in me vetschooldiary.com/about
— Chris VetSchoolDiary (@vetschooldiary) January 5, 2013
URGENT! Need to raise £2141 by Feb 13th to continue in vet school! Can you help? vetschooldiary.com/about#payitforward
— Chris VetSchoolDiary (@vetschooldiary) January 6, 2013
I’m going to be brutally honest here Chris. These tweets stir up something unpleasant in me. I considered unfollowing you, but something about your plight intrigues me, so I’m going to throw a few ideas your way.
At the risk of sounding old and crusty, I’ll tell you that I took a small student loan when I was in vet school but I worked like crazy to earn the money that I needed to continue my education. At one point, on top of taking 9 courses during the semester I had 9 part time jobs as well! I worked at a veterinary hospital doing whatever chores I could. I mucked out stalls. I was an umpire or referee for several sports on campus. I stayed up till 4 am typing people’s essays for cash. And during that time I survived on Kraft Dinner and Mr. Noodles. If I had a really good week with some extra cash my big treat would be to buy myself a steak.
I tweeted some of my thoughts to Chris and he explained that finding employment would be difficult for him as he does not speak the local language well.
So, I’ve got some ideas for Chris (and for others who are struggling to come up with tuition fees.)
Chris is having trouble raising the money he needs. He is asking people to sponsor him with a small amount per month and in return he will be able to help animals for the next few decades. But that doesn’t seem to be working. It looks like he is getting small donations here and there, but at this rate, time is going to run out.
Why are people not donating? These days, very few people will simply give for the sake of giving. Chris has got more than 66,000 Twitter Followers. Surely there has to be a way to encourage people to help him out?
I propose that you offer a few options for people – serious ones and not so serious ones.
Not so serious options:
These may sound silly, but I think they would be great fun and with the Twitter following you have you could likely earn a good amount of money. Offer to do something silly in return for a small donation – it could be £1, £2, or £5. What I would recommend is to ask your Twitter followers to think of what are the silliest things you could do in return for a small donation. Are you an artist? You could draw a silly photo of each person’s pet. A daredevil? You could pee a message for them in the snow! (I know…it’s daring, but people may pay you to do something silly.) Your readers likely will come up with other ideas. Then, you can encourage them to spread the word – “This vet student is so desperate for money, he’s willing to ……” You can decline anything that’ s not G-Rated.
I can picture you having a theme each day. So, one day would be – I’ll draw a picture of you and your pet for £2. You know what – even if you are a horrible artist it would probably still fly! The next day you could write a personalized vet related limerick for people who donate. The next day you can record you singing a 10 second song directly to the donators. And then tweet about all of this. This will get you money each day and new followers. Ask everyone to spread the word.
There are likely many jobs that you can get even without speaking the language well. Are you in a rural area? Offer to do farm labor for a good rate. If you prove you are a good worker, the farmers would likely jump at the chance to hire you. Any shelters nearby? Ask if you can work for them. Are you in a residential area? Put out flyers and shovel driveways. Talk to each of your professors and ask if they have any jobs that they need done. Offer to walk dogs…oh yeah, that was one of my other jobs that I did while I was a student.
I don’t expect that all of these options will work for you…but there’s got to be some way for you to earn your way through school other than just asking for sponsors. If you can’t find one, then another option may be to take a year or two off if that’s a possibility…head back to the UK and do whatever work you can until you have raised enough money to cover the majority of your tuition.
Hopefully you don’t take this as a rebuke Chris. I just see that there is so much that you could potentially be doing to earn your way through school. Then, when you graduate and people ask you why your fees are so expensive you can tell them stories like I do about working like a maniac in order to earn my education. (Incidentally, if you are interested I wrote an article explaining to people why vet fees are so expensive.)
You can do it! You sound like a guy with good work ethic!
I look forward to seeing what happens.
Do you have any ideas for how Chris can earn money for his education?
Incidentally, if you would like to donate to Chris’ cause (even without him doing something silly for you), you can do so here.
Not too harsh at all, some good points, and I am going add some of my experiences into here to hopefully help others in my situation.
1. It all adds up, under 10% of my tweets on twitter are sponsorship related, and are targetted at my new followers from that day. However for me twitter is truly a great source of emotional support as sometimes its hard to keep on going when it feels impossible.
2. Offer something in return, I spent time in December working on a new business sponsorship package including advertsing affordable to small businesses which is taking off well http://www.vetschooldiary.com/business-sponsorship/
3. Network, Network, Network – I love talking to new people, and learning about them. I picked up my first job here writting for a website through networking 2 years ago at BSAVA Congress!
4. Form a hard skin, and get used to rejection. For every 100 people that say no, there will be one that says yes. Sometimes its disheatening however the pond is massive so keep on fishing!
5. If you decide to apply for grants for funding, do it way early! A lot of grants for funding in September have to be in by January so you should be researching opportunities a year in advance of needing the money. This was probably my biggest mistake this year!!!
Just a interesting piece of trivia, the average monthly wage here for a full time employee in what is considered a well paid job is around 500 euros (around £400).
My motto, by Sir Winston Churchill; Never, never, never give up!!! Be creative, be smart, be silly…they will appeal to various people. Having spent an entire career in sales the 100/1 ratio is accurate… and it’s a big ocean from which to fish. Good luck!