Throughout my four years as a predental student I have volunteered and worked in numerous settings and gathered information from dental professionals, dental students and my fellow predental officers. I have also mentored my predental classmates about how adding business skills can open doors. Here are some business tips I have found helpful as a predental student:
Tip 1: Networking is essential.
Networking can lead to finding a mentor, a job opportunity or learning new information. The key to networking is to take the initiative and be genuine. Networking is about building a connection and keeping it for future use. After meeting someone who might be a possible connection make sure to write an e-mail thanking them for their time and feedback. This is the courteous professional thing to do. Listening to the person you are speaking to is very important even if you have something you want to tell them. If the person is short on time and you want to talk about your accomplishments then naturally talk to them about what you have done and what they think you could do to become a better candidate.
Tip 2: Do not close the door on opportunity.
Don’t close off opportunities because you believe you know what branch of dentistry you have chosen since, many predental students only shadow the branch they hope to practice in and neglect to see all the unique aspects of the other branches. So instead of just shadowing one specialty as a predental student try and shadow as many as possible. This may change your perspective and you may follow a completely different path.
Tip 3: Don’t forget thank you.
In business it is customary to e-mail a thank you note after being interviewed. But in a recent ASDA event in Houston I learned a handwritten thank you note is more gracious than an e-mail and shows some thought. Before going to an interview you should bring with you a blank thank you note and after the interview once you get to your car thoughtfully thank the person who interviewed you for their time and any feedback. Once the handwritten thank you note is completed take it to the receptionist. This is something which leaves the interviewer with a good perception of you.
Clubs and organizations should implement a simple thank you note for presenters who take time out of their busy lives to present.
Tip 4: First impressions are priceless.
Remember first impressions last, so when going to dental related events make sure to dress appropriately. Consider investing in a suit for presentations and networking events.
Step 5: New Connections:
Make new connections by joining organizations and clubs. Many host networking events, seminars and conferences which provide key information about the dental field. Joining local predental societies and national organizations such as ASDA can open new doors and inform you about events. Some local organizations such as the one in my university have dental panels which are events where local practicing dentist talk to the students about the issues surrounding the field of dentistry. These organizations and clubs also setup events to speak directly with admissions officers from the dental schools. Local ASDA chapters also provide seminars and workshops which are one of a kind experiences working with dental students.
Tip 6: Personal Branding
Personal branding is accomplished by going the extra mile and setting yourself apart. This can be done through volunteering abroad in communities which are in need of assistance. Another way you could set yourself apart from potential dental competition could be through using personalized video marketing, engaging with your customers and creating a memorable experience. Other branding opportunities are to create special presentations for nonprofit health clinics about the importance of oral health. Once you have completed the unique characteristics ensure they are a part of your brand and are mentioned in important events.
Following these tips will help you advance further towards your future goal of getting into dental school. What tips have helped you along the way? Let us know in the comments below.
~Ileana Lozano, University of Texas Pan-American ’14, predental member
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