Lack of a clear perception of the realities of a career in veterinary medicine could adversely affect young graduates’ satisfaction with the profession and their long-term commitment to it. Veterinary students’ understanding of a career in practice were explored. Traditionalentry first-year and final-year students, as well as entry-level ‘Gateway’ (widening participation) students, were invited to complete a questionnaire exploring their pre-university experiences and their understandings of a career in general practice. Broadly speaking, the undergraduate students taking part in the survey (the majority of whom were entry-level students) had a realistic view of average weekly working hours, out-of-hours duties and the development of their remuneration packages over the course of their careers. The main attractions of the profession were working with animals and the perception of a rewarding job. The main concerns were making mistakes and balancing work and home life. The vast majority of students wanted to pursue a career in general practice, and other career opportunities did not appear to be well understood, particularly by entry-level students.