Podcast Episodes

Podcast Episode 35: Making the Most of Meetings

Introduction

  • Hi, everyone. This is Dr. Ziggy Yoediono from MedSchoolCoach. Thanks for joining me.
  • Today I’m going to talk about making the most of meetings. This may seem like an unusual topic of choice for college students, let alone premeds, but it’s actually an extremely critical skill that everyone, including all college students, should – but rarely – learn.

Body

  • And here’s why: When you were in high school you rarely had to worry about searching for information because much of it was given to you by your teachers and administrators.
  • But college is different. Yes, you will still get a lot of information directly from professors and administrators. But unlike with high school, this isn’t enough if you want to be the best.
  • As a premed, if you want to excel in terms of your college academics, extra-curriculars and ultimately your career in terms of getting into medical school, you must be proactive about taking the time to meet with faculty, staff and other professional experts – whether it’s to get more information about a class, to learn about career opportunities or to make connections – to name just a few reasons.
  • However, once you’ve reached out and set up a time for a meeting, your work isn’t it done. In fact, it’s only just beginning. And that’s because you should never just show up to a meeting – whether it’s in person, online or via telephone – and wing it. You want to wow the person who’s taking time out of her busy day to meet with you and prove that you’re mature and professional enough to be worth investing time and effort into, which in turn could lead to a long-term professional relationship.
  • And to do that, you must prepare. A day or two before my meeting, I develop an agenda and the very first thing I do is determine the goal of the meeting. In other words: why am I meeting with this person and what do I want to accomplish by the time it ends? Once I figure it out, I literally write it at the top of the agenda to serve as a reminder.
  • The goal ideally should be measurable so that you can determine whether or not you achieved it by the time the meeting ends. Is the goal to get specific type of information? Is it to get recommendations for extracurriculars? Is it to get recommendations for summer internships?
  • No matter what, you need to have clear, measurable goals. Otherwise, you’re not going to know what to talk about during the meeting.
  • Once I’ve figured out the goals of my meeting, I research whomever I’m going to be meeting. This may seem odd given that the meeting is supposed to be about you. Ironically, however, the more you know about the person you’re meeting, the more potential opportunities you create for yourself.
  • For instance, let’s assume that you’re majoring in English and you’re meeting with your English professor because you want to begin having a discussion about areas that you can write about for your senior thesis. If you didn’t do any research about your professor, you could still ask decent but general questions like “What are areas that I should consider for my senior thesis?” But if you did research on your professor, you might learn that one of her specialties is the History of Literary Criticism – which you’ve never heard about but find riveting – which then means not only can you ask general questions about areas of specialization, but also more specific ones about her specialty.
  • The last step in preparing is to determine the specific issues that you plan on discussing during the meeting. This not only includes figuring out questions that you want to ask, but also anticipating questions that you may be asked and preparing for them.
  • For that meeting with your English professor, your agenda might like look like this:

Goal: Begin brainstorming areas for senior thesis and learn more about professor’s specialty

  • Questions to ask
    • Can you tell me more about the History of Literary Criticism?
    • What should I do to learn more about this specialty?
    • What should I do if I want my senior thesis to focus on this specialty?
    • Would you be willing to be my advisor?

 

  • You should always do two things at the end of each meeting. First, you should ask: “Who else should I talk to?” You want to take advantage of this meeting to connect with as many other experts as possible and one of the best ways to do so is through referrals.
  • Second, you should have a follow up plan with the person you’re meeting. You don’t want the first meeting to be the last one. Every initial meeting should serve as a jumping off point for cultivating a long-term relationship, which in turn can potentially lead to your getting mentors, making more connections, getting references and letters of recommendations and learning about opportunities.
  • Finally, don’t be late for the meeting – not even by a second. This may seem obvious, but when I was a college academic advisor my advisees were sometimes late and not for good reasons (news flash: “I couldn’t find your office” is an unacceptable excuse). First impressions really matter so when you’re late, you’re telling the person that you’re supposed to be impressing that you don’t respect her time and consequently, you end up starting off on the wrong foot.

Conclusion

  • So that’s my advice on how to make the most of meetings. I hope you found it helpful.
  • For those of you wanting expertise advice for any and all parts of your medical school application, please consider us at MEDSCHOOLCOACH. Our advisors are physicians who have been involved with medical school admissions committees, which means you get an insider’s insight on what to expect and how to prepare. We are at www.medschoolcoach.com.
  • Until next time!

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