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Jen Tserng is a doctor-turned-dog sitter for Seattle-based Rover.com. Photo courtesy of Tserng.

The barking in the background at times makes it difficult to hear Jennifer Tserng describe the last few years of her life, but it’s understandable given the requirements of her new full-time job.

Tserng is now a Rover.com dog-sitter, taking care of four-legged friends in Seattle on a daily basis. It’s quite the change from her last gig, and not exactly where the 36-year-old expected to be after earning her MD from the Medical College of Ohio nearly a decade ago.

Yep, that’s right: Tserng is a doctor-turned-dog sitter. It’s a career change that Tserng has embraced — after all, she’s happier everyday and making more money in the process.

Tserng moved to Seattle nearly two years ago for a medical examiner position with King County. Last holiday season, she was looking for ways to make a few extra bucks when she stumbled upon Rover, the Seattle-based startup that recently raised $3.5 million from Petco.

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Jen Tserng’s profile page on Rover.com.

Tserng, who has been involved with dog rescue and owns three dogs herself, first tried Rover as a client.

“I kind of felt like I couldn’t really find a sitter that I liked or was available consistently,” she told us.

So, Tserng decided to become a sitter with a friend and continued to do so until her contract with the county ended this past June.

At that point, Tserng had a decision to make. 

“It was either move somewhere else in the country and find another day job, or just stay here and pet sit,” she said.

She opted for the latter and it’s turned out to be a good decision thus far. Tserng sees about 3-to-5 dogs per day and makes more money than she did as a medical examiner.

Rover.com CEO Aaron Easterly with Caramel on the GeekWire podcast. Photo: Erynn Rose
Rover.com CEO Aaron Easterly with Caramel on the GeekWire podcast. Photo: Erynn Rose

Tserng, who charges about $32 per night, said she really enjoys her new job. It’s been a nice change of pace from the 9-to-5 world and if the past few months are any indication, she and her friend are on pace to make $100,000 per year, which also includes money from dogwalking and daycare in addition to her Rover.com boarding income.

Tserng, who made $40,000 in a training position at her last job as a medical examiner, plans to continue pet sitting for the time being.

“I’m definitely more motivated because I’m running the show,” she said. “I like the flexibility a lot more.”

The entrepreneurship-aspect of Rover is what attracts many sitters to the platform.

“That’s one of the best things,” Rover.com CEO Aaron Easterly told us. “We love that we are able to provide people with the opportunity to become their own boss and ultimately start their own business.”

It’s really a pattern we’ve seen among companies like Rover that allow families to add incremental income with skills or products they already own. Room rental companies like Airbnb or ride-sharing startups like Lyft and Sidecar are good examples.

Much like Rover, companies like Lyft allow people to use products and skills they already have to run their own mini-businesses.  (Photo via the Lyft blog)
Much like Rover, companies like Lyft allow people to use products and skills they already have to run their own mini-businesses. (Photo via the Lyft blog)

Like Tserng, many are simply quitting their full-time jobs altogether in favor of these new ways to make a living. While going from a full-time MD to a full-time Rover sitter is uncommon, Easterly said there are several former medical professionals making a “significant amount of money,” as Rover sitters. It’s reminiscent of the entrepreneurs in the 90s who jumped on the eBay train and made a good amount of money as third-party sellers.

Rover currently employs 30 and now has more than 25,000 sitters across the U.S. The company was started by venture capitalist Greg Gottesman at a Startup Weekend event in Seattle in 2011 and investors in the startup include Petco, Madrona Venture Group and Crunchfund.

Editor’s note: Tserng’s potential yearly salary from Rover was added to this story at 2:05 p.m. PT

Comments

  • http://walawrealty.com marc_h

    Does anybody else find this story a bit sad? I know money isn’t everything but $32 per day for 5 dogs every single day of the year is less than $60k/year. For a licensed doctor that seems like a pretty poor use of one’s skills. Admittedly, the ME’s office doesn’t sound like a dream job but I’d think there are other practice areas she could move towards.

  • Jenny Tate

    Medical educations are subsidized by society. In turn, MD’s
    are trained to serve the greater good so it is indeed sad to see a product of
    this expensive training abandon the field. There is a shortage of MD’s in rural
    and underserved urban areas such as South Side Chicago. If her choice was all
    about the money then this illustrates a dysfunction in the medical payment system.

    But my guess is that it goes deeper and this person was
    pushed into medicine by her tiger mom and was just not a very happy person in
    medicine. The spot she occupied in medical college and in residency was indeed wasted.

    But nothing is perfect and this shows that people can waste
    even the most expensive and time consuming educations.

    Good luck babysitting dogs. Not sure how long that will keep
    her happy though.

    • CarmichaelPatriot

      Dogs are a lot nicer to deal with on a daily basis than most people.

      Subsidized by society? How do you explain the massive student loan debts most doctors are saddled with?

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