BY: SARAH TOMPKINS
In the ever-evolving healthcare industry, jobs are becoming more competitive to attain. We have collected a few tips from UD alum, Kyle Protack (a Clinical Laboratory Scientist III at Johns Hopkins Hospital) and Dr. Anne Krouse (Professor and Associate Dean for Education and Practice for the School of Nursing at UD) that you can begin implementing today to improve your chances for getting a job in this rewarding field.
- Leverage opportunities to get hands-on.
As a student, you are learning the required knowledge to take on a career in healthcare. However, education is only one piece of the puzzle. Having the ability to effectively apply what you’ve learned is what employers are looking for. Kyle believes, “Clinicals and internships are more practical than the academic setting. You have the opportunity to actually do the things you’ve been reading about.” Dr. Krouse agrees with this point and stresses the importance of a student’s attitude in these settings. She stated, “Students need to present themselves as inquisitive, curious, be open to talking to others, and want to be actively engaged.” Consider your interpersonal communication skills. They can be just as critical as the work you are doing in these settings. Kyle explains, “If you do a good job in your internship or clinical rotation, they may offer you a job before you leave.”
However, clinicals and internships are not the only places for students to gain real-world experience in healthcare. Dr. Krouse is a firm believer that volunteering can also provide admirable learning opportunities. She explained, “Volunteering is a really wonderful way for students to get experience in multiple settings. Healthcare happens in a lot of different places. For example, Camps are great in the summer. I think there’s lots of opportunities for students to either volunteer or get a job as a camp counselor. It’s highly respected by employers.”
Bottom line: Embrace hands-on learning experiences and put forth your best effort. These are your opportunities to showcase your skills, enthusiasm, and value to potential employers. In the Spring, the Career Services Center hosts The Experiential Learning for the Health Professions Meet-up. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from health care professionals about ways to volunteer, shadow, and get direct care hours.
- Get connected.
You have several options to make meaningful strides towards a career in healthcare without ever leaving campus. Joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO) and forming relationships with your classmates and faculty can all aid your job search.
Joining a RSO is easy and gives you the opportunity to network with students in your area of study or interest. Kyle was the Treasurer of the Medial Lab Sciences Club for several years during his UD undergraduate career. This experience was a great talking point for him in job interviews because it showed employers that he was invested in his major and excited to be involved outside of the classroom. You can search through UD’s active RSO’s here.
Beyond your peers, consider networking with your professors as well. When it is time to apply for jobs, you will want strong references that can speak to both your intelligence and abilities. Dr. Krouse believes knowing your professors may be one of the most meaningful actions a student seeking a career in healthcare can do. “As faculty become aware of an opportunity outside of the University of Delaware, and they know a student who has a particular interest there, they would be more likely to pull that student into that opportunity. Certainly, with recommendations as well. It’s a lot easier for us to write a recommendation if we have a personal relationship with that student. I think it’s important for students to have personal relationships with their faculty anyway in terms of really having someone to help them answer questions like, ‘What am I going to do in the future?’ and ‘How am I going to position myself to be successful in my career?’ Faculty are always willing to help with that.”
Kyle stresses this point as well. He affirmed, “There’s a lot of opportunities that are thrown at you. I still get emails about job openings from former professors and I graduated almost three years ago.” The connections you establish do not have to end once you receive your diploma. Keeping in contact with professors and former classmates via email or LinkedIn can valuable for your career long-term.
Bottom line: Being actively involved in your academic community now can have a remarkable impact later when you are job hunting.
- Do your research and prep work.
Take some time to investigate the organizations you’d like to work for. Explore their websites and read their mission statements. Seek out volunteer or internship opportunities that align with the information you find. Modify your resume and other application materials to reflect the job openings that appeal to you. Prepare thoroughly for interviews and allocate time to develop your talking points. You want to ensure your ability to speak clearly and confidently about your education and hands-on learning experiences in healthcare.
Dr. Krouse says, “One of the most important things I would recommend for students who are considering a career in healthcare is to get as much experience as they can in exploring what that career is all about.” Ultimately, it is essential to discover the area of healthcare you enjoy most and what type of position is most suitable for you and your career goals.
Bottom line: Taking the time to research organizations and your career interests is important and will shine through in an interview.
The future of your career in healthcare is predominantly in your hands; but remember, we’re here to help every step of the way. Check out the Career Services Center website for great information, resources, and events that can boost your chances of landing a job in this competitive field.