As an older applicant, are there benefits to attending a premed conference? Can you make connections with schools that will ultimately help your application?
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[00:50] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:
“I’m curious about the soft-side values of theUC Davis Prehealth Conference specifically for an older applicant coming as a career changer. I’ve read that it is a fantastic overall pre-med conference that gives a great introduction to all the details on the basics, but I’d like to get a feel for some additional possible benefits. I can make arrangements to attend, but want to make sure that the effort is worthwhile. Reading the list of schools attending is impressive.
Do adcom attendees make note of future applicants they talk to and are interested in keeping an eye out for his/her application?
Is it an option to come in pre-interview mode, dressed business casual and have something to leave behind like a resume or CV?
Is networking possible? Can an attendee actually walk away having made a good connection with someone who has a role in admissions?
Can a line of communication be opened via a connection made at this conference? (I previously attended the much smaller conference at UCSD and have not had response to any of the “fill this out with any questions” forms, so I’m not sure if the adcoms actually have time to follow-up.)
Do the admission committee attendees/presenters find value in attending the conference? Do they “prospect” at all?
I suppose the bottom line is, if someone already has a good handle on the pre-reqs, MCAT preparation, application cycle, etc. is there additional value in attending the UC Davis pre-health conference?
[02:15] What Benefits Do You Get Out of Premed Conferences
I’m working with a student who hasn’t had much luck until she went to a conference. And she did this in the middle of the application cycle. Now, if you’re doing this pre-application cycle, this allows you to ask for more advice because you’re not a current applicant. As a current applicant, your advice isn’t as robust as it may be if you were not an applicant and you’re only planning to apply the next year or the year after.
Depending on where you are on your journey, if you’re a current applicant, I highly recommend you go to conferences. Aside from getting to meet me, you get to network.
[04:20] Is Networking Possible?
100% possible. The question is how much effort are you going to put into it? Are you going to go to all of the sessions? Or are you going to get up there, say hello, and shake hands? You can actually bring a resume if you’re not a current applicant. Most importantly, come prepared with questions. Do your research like you’re planning on applying to these schools. Do your research like you’re going to talk to them why you want to their school. Don’t just walk up to them and say hi and ask them to tell you everything you need to know. That’s a useless conversation.
If you’re a current applicant, talk about the application – where you may be struggling, why you haven’t gotten an interview. The student I talked about who attended the conference had a low MCAT score. And we were able to talk about that. It’s her second time taking it and her score increased a ton but it’s still low. So she made some good connections at the conference and weeks later, she went to theAAMC Minority Student Career Fair in Texas. She lives on the east coast so she flew out to UC Davis then went to Texas for the fair, where she got even more traction. She got a couple of the same people and got to show her face again. She also got to meet new people – one of them started interviewing her and pulled up her application. They asked her questions and she ended up getting an interview because of the connections she made. Hopefully, it leads to an acceptance. Nevertheless, she probably wouldn’t have gotten that interview without showing her face at one of these conferences. You have to put yourself out there. You have to show who you are.
[07:00] What Value Do You Get from These Conferences?
It depends on who the school is sending as to the amount of value that you can get from each of the schools. Some of the schools will send the admissions committee members, the director or dean of admissions. Other schools would only have the marketing/PR people to bring fliers, and not necessarily the type of people you can connect with so they can take a look at your application.
[08:12] Do the Schools Really Need to Be There?
Schools are getting thousands upon thousands of applications for 100-200 seats so they don’t need to be going to these conferences. They’re hoping to get their name out there so the right students are applying. It makes their job much harder but they want that versus having thousands of applications and half of them are junk because they don’t really match the values and the mission of the school. They’re out there getting their name recognized as well as their mission and vision, so you understand who they are and what they’re about. So that when you apply, you are a good fit for their school.
[09:05] Final Thoughts
Again, it depends on who these people are that are there. Can you make a connection with them? You have to try to make a connection. You have to go and network and if you’re an introvert, you have to put on a smile. Go, shake hands, and ask questions. Be prepared to give them information. Be prepared to talk about some of your weaknesses if you’re in the middle of the application. Even when you’re not in the middle of the application, talk about your weaknesses and what you’re doing to work on them. Get their buy off on it.
You need to get out there and show your face. Additionally, you get to meet other students going through the same process. You can commiserate with them and exchange phone numbers, and maybe form a group of students who are supporting each other through this process.
Conferences are one of the best investments that you can make as a premed – even when you’re in medical school, residency, or even as an attending. It’s very important to collaborate with your colleagues, learn, and be there with people who understand what you’re going through.
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