There I was, sitting in a medical school interview, when the next question hit me: “So, what have you been doing during your gap year?” I smiled, “Well, I have been working in the perfect medically related position; I have already saved many lives.” His face lit up and he asked, “Wow, what job is that?” I confidently replied, “I’m a Career Advisor at the University of Michigan.” The interviewer’s confounded stare prompted an opportunistic explanation.
Physicians meet individually with a diverse patient population, working to alleviate their ailments, provide them with helpful resources, keep patient charts, utilize technology, give presentations, and attend meetings.
My role as a Career Advisor is very similar. When I walk into the waiting area, I have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with members of a diverse student population to aid in career and educational planning and life choices. During these interactions, I call upon Internet tools and other resources, and keep detailed notes on the students I meet with to facilitate more efficient future appointments. I also attend weekly meetings to maintain communication within the office and discuss student cases. In addition, I am able to travel to different organizations and departments around campus to deliver presentations to small and large groups.
From this, I believe it is easy to see how this position is “medically related.” I am utilizing critical thinking skills, for example, when I recall student development theories to most effectively deliver advice, and am essentially doing the same things as a physician, simply in a different context. And when I get a “thank you” card or have a student make an appointment just to tell me how much I helped them get a good job or accepted into a graduate program, I know that I have saved their life…from the anxiety they previously faced.
This experience has done a lot to prepare me for my future career in medicine. Firstly, I have developed a much higher level of professionalism, fine-tuned my teamwork skills, gained greater autonomy, self-motivation and confidence, and become much more comfortable interacting with unique personalities from a variety of ages and backgrounds. Second, as a past pre-med student at UM, I have received additional training to help this population, which was invaluable to me while going through the medical school application process myself. Finally, I have had the honor of working with the most wonderful staff imaginable and could not imagine feeling more welcome in this fast-paced office.
If you are a pre-med student who is looking for a great experience during your gap year, a position as a Career Advisor at the University of Michigan Career Center may be right for you. To apply, go to http://umjobs.org/ and search by title “Career Advisor” or Job ID# 57006 or 57008.