The Best Medical School Info Session Ever!

Hi everyone! I hope midterms are not killing you yet! Last week I attended an amazing information session that Mr. Sobol hosted on applying to medical schools. Now, honestly, I have attended a couple of information sessions before that HPO and other organizations hosted, and I found these sessions were repetitive and cursory. However, this one was very detailed and much more insightful! I would like to share with you some important things I gleaned from this information session.

  1. When it comes to choosing medical colleges, it is important to first go on the HPO website and actually see what medical schools Rutgers students have gotten into. There is a better chance that these colleges will be a good fit for you as well! Also, purchase MSAR because this database of medical schools gives detailed descriptions and statistics on recent matriculating students, curriculum, grading system, financial costs, and more about each medical college.
  2. Make sure your Facebook and other social media accounts are professional. This includes your email address. I never thought about this until I attended the information session! Mr. Sobol mentioned how some medical colleges can view your social media accounts to learn more about how you present yourself, so just remember to clear up any silly or embarrassing pictures you may have on Instagram or Facebook. In addition, if your email is something like fluffybunny123@gmail.com, then you may not come off exactly as professional…
  3. Don’t apply Early Decision if you are not more than 100000% sure you have a good chance getting into the medical college. This is because if the medical school you apply Early Decision to waitlists you, then you might be too late to submit your applications to other medical colleges in which your chance of getting in might have been higher.
  4. Go to open houses and make connections. When you go to open houses, you will get to meet with the deans and other staff members of the medical schools. It will be a good chance to get to know them so they can put a face to your application. It would be even better to follow up after the open house by emailing them any additional questions or comments you have about the medical school. Using Linkedin to connect with other doctors and deans of medical schools is also good.

Here are some tips I learned for medical school interviews.

  1. Research each medical school before going to your interview. Really get to know what they have to offer; look into their programs, curriculum, affiliated hospitals, clubs, etc. Pick few aspects that really stand out to you and be prepared to discuss why you like these aspects.
  2. Have sell points. Be prepared to talk about what makes you a strong applicant. Remember, instead of saying how you are better than other applicants, focus more on what makes YOU a good fit.
  3. Talk about failures and hardships to show what lessons they have taught you.
  4. When they tell you, “tell me about yourself”, don’t freak out. Try to talk about your background, education, clinical experiences, leadership roles, a couple of fun facts and end it firmly by asking whether there is anything else the interviewers would like you to explain further.
  5. Prepare questions for the interviewer. These could be about any of the aspects you researched on while looking up the medical school (curriculum, clubs, unique programs, etc.).
  6. Make sure you are well versed in the current health topics that are spurring in the medical fields. Try to go to depts.Washington.edu/bioethics to see what ethical topics medical professionals might deal with! Read the health and medicine section of news websites!
  7. Good posture, maintaining eye contact, and a firm handshake can go a long way!

Good luck!

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Pre-Med, The Fair Side

Many of you are likely familiar with the infamous rigor of the pre-med track here at Rutgers. With neurobiology, biochemistry, anatomy, and the dreaded organic chemistry, there is no telling how people manage to survive these dreaded encounters. On top of that, med schools expect to see other activities outside that involve experience in the clinical field, including shadowing, volunteering, building houses in Africa, which almost everybody does, so how in the world are you supposed to distinguish yourself?

I know one thing for sure: complaining about it won’t help. I have adopted a new mantra to make myself stop complaining when things do not go my way because it is an unnecessary waste of time and energy that will not get you anywhere. Although this may seem obvious, when caught in the whirlwind of courses and grades and academia in such a competitive field, it is easy to even forget to brush your teeth in the morning, let alone give advice that should be beneficial. However, as the semester draws to a close, I will take it upon myself to remember internally the advice I set for myself and for others, to not complain and instead find a way around and look for a solution.

One of those potential alternate solutions was, for me, to go to the Career and Internship Mega-Fair, on Thursday, February 2, and Friday, February 3.

Unsurprisingly, this was a formal event, because when people look first to introduce themselves to potential recruiters and employers for big companies looking to hire employees or summer interns, they must look their best. Dressed in a button-down Calvin Klein white shirt, black dress pants, and a three-button blazer that I got as a present from the Raymond shop during my trip to Mumbai last year, I stepped off the bus at Livi and made my way to the Rec Center, also the site of my high school graduation. With my blazer, I was described by my friends who also went there as “straight from the 1970s”. Great way to stand out from the rest of the crowd who was dressed in more traditional business attire, I thought.

I wasn’t looking for any company in particular, but I was there to observe how people network and look for jobs, and overall how they present themselves to the employers to make themselves sound like the perfect fit for the company. There were easily over 1,000 students waiting there, with hundreds waiting in line for the bigger companies like Johnson and Johnson, Google, and GlaxoSmithKline, all geared towards the same goal of expressing their interest and why they are the best fit for the company. Talk about competitive.

Image result for rutgers career fair

 

All of them brought their resumes, two-sided, listing their best accomplishments. If this is starting to sound just like any other typical student trying to get a job after graduation or for the summer, let me emphasize one point: most of the other students I saw there were either finance, marketing, computer science, engineering, or data analysts (whatever that means), none were pre-med. Almost all of them had some idea of what skills they wanted to present to what companies in order to land co-ops or full-time careers, and many of them were even post-bacs or seniors looking for a place to work, but nobody I saw was pursuing a career in the biological sciences. Now I’m not saying there were no pre-med related companies there (Emergency Medical Associates came on that Friday), or that there were not any pre-med students. I am simply stressing how much I felt out-of-place there initially, since everybody was talking about their experience with programming languages like C++ or Java, their summer working for an engineering firm in Colorado or somewhere far away from home, or their summer internships as data analysts, R & D employees, or intensive paid or unpaid co-ops. All of that jargon seemed foreign to me, considering that all I had done during my past summer was shadow a doctor of geriatric medicine and looked for a job in a retail setting (Walgreens, for those of you who haven’t seen my previous post). This type of setting just didn’t seem fitting for pre-meds, even if they said “all majors welcome” on the online and print advertisements.

But worried I was not. Mainly, in addition to an alternate pathway should there ever come a time when I feel pre-med is not for me, I also wanted to learn how to network. Potential new opportunities, as I learned last summer, don’t just come. You have to actively work to get them. I actively approached this fair as a potential to get involved with several companies during the summer, maybe to see the side of career choices that don’t come with clinical experience or to simply see how to communicate with people in a professional manner. I brought a few copies of my resume and proudly put my clinical experiences on them, despite not matching what others had for the companies I was standing in line for. I was determined to at least make a good impression and establish my interest in learning about networking and the company itself.

My first, and most memorable stop, was Johnson and Johnson, one of the few places there that seemed to be of interest to me as a pre-med. When I finally talked to one of the recruiters, I initially told them that I was a pre-med major and looking for a chance to work with Johnson and Johnson, as an R & D. Even if I didn’t know what that meant, I managed to tailor my questions in a professional manner so the recruiter could explain to me all the terms without me seeming like I had no clue. I explained to her I was very interested and thought pharmaceuticals and medical devices was the field for me, which was exactly what Johnson and Johnson embodied, she said to me. I told her about the experiences on my resume as she skimmed over it, as a Teaching Intern and a blogger for the SASHP, telling her I was actively working to make a difference by teaching others, inspiring them, and hoping to do the same with Johnson and Johnson. To my surprise, after I was done, she told me I’d be a perfect fit!

Although I initially made myself sound like I wanted to do a co-op for the summer, I ended up landing a volunteer position at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital for the summer before I seriously considered applying, but was thrilled to know that I successfully learned how to network and present myself in the best manner, and have a potential backup plan to continue going and networking at these fairs in case pre-med does not work out for me.

My main point of advice to all you students who are or are not pre-meds is to not be afraid to network. Although I felt out of place there, I ended up making a better impression on other companies than I expected to, probably because of how confident I seemed despite my inner confusion and insecurity. This fair allowed me an opportunity to see what skill sets are required of other majors to land jobs and internships, since as a pre-med, I would naturally find myself trying to develop skills only for the sake of medicine through my shadowing and volunteer activities, and not necessarily have a good understanding of what people of other careers have to do to get their feet in the door.

I told myself that, with this experience, I will never make myself feel like I don’t belong, and will keep an open mind, instead of complaining about how difficult the field I am entering is. Reflecting on my presence at the fair, I was surprised about what skills I possessed and what opportunities that I wasn’t expecting could suddenly become an important asset to my future, and overall, how to be confident and explore other areas other than the traditional routes that most other pre-med students tend to take.