Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Who do you know? Networking for the Pre-PA

     I have talked to several Pre-PA students via Facebook and at my current university CSULB (Go Beach!). I usually feel like I want to tell them everything I know about the profession, researching PA programs, etc... but I soon realize dump the truck load of information I have learned over the past few years (and that I am still learning) would probably not be the best thing for their young Pre-PA minds.  There are 3 main things I try to impress upon Pre-PA students: Network, do your research and APPLY EARLY. I will be doing a post on each of these topics, with the first being about networking (obviously you have figure this out if you read the tittle).
     Some people can network and mingle quite easily while the rest of us struggle with trying to decide what we are going to ask, talk about, our appearance, and a myriad of other things that often times don't really impact our networking capabilities. Through my continued involvement with MAPS (a student group at CSULB), I feel I have been able to go from the "struggling networker" (ok a shy person) to a "professional networker" (well most of the time,  or that is what I would like to think). Here are my tips on how to improve your networking skills:

  • First impressions are very important and these can happen at any time and any place. So before you leave the house check the mirror. Did you comb your hair? Brush your teeth? Do do not have to dress like a professional (unless of course your daily activities call for this) but taking a little extra time and money to make sure you are looking you best can pay off when you bump into a PA in the market, at school or where ever. For guys looking to improve their dress I recommend checking out: . For the ladies I don't have a resource, sorry I am not up to date on women's fashion, and you have far to many variability in the types of things you can wear and there are not enough equations to solve for all these different variables.

  • Get involved! If you are still in college, you should be involved with a Pre-PA club (notice I did not say Pre-Health Club, if your school does not have a Pre-PA club make one! And if you simple can't join the Pre-Health Club). Often times these groups have speaker that are either PAs or from PA schools. This is a perfect opportunity to introduce yourself, give a firm hand shake and let them know you are interested in becoming a PA and/or their PA program. (In addition you will hopefully, catch their attention with your mature style, and upright posture and positive welcoming body language). You can also network at PA schools information sessions/open houses. Go to Pre-PA conferences. VOLUNTEER!

  • Make your own business card! This is what mine looked liked:

(I have a little sticky covering up my address)

  • Take a risk, email, introduce yourself. If you are really shy start with becoming more active in social media and with time force yourself to talk to others. Find your niche and share ideas this will usually snowball into good things!

  • FOLLOW UP!!! This is key!  If you got some one's contact information use it and email them. Let them know that is was nice to meet them. If you have questions ASK!!!! (I see this all the time, I meet some Pre-PA students talk to them for a while give them my contact info and then never hear from them again. It is frustrating!) Unless the person is astronomically busy, they will most likely respond to you.  If a person has helped you significantly in your journey to become a PA, keep them updated on how you are doing in your pursuit of your goal.

  • A "new" form of networking- social media.... Most people have a Facebook, LinkedIn account or Twitter account or something of the sort. Make sure what you present is tasteful appropriate and positive.  If you have to ask your self whether something is appropriate you should probably just not post it.

Know the right people can help you in so many ways! So get out there and start networking. Collect that contact information store in a useful convenient place and most of all USE IT!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

University of Southern California (USC)- PA Program Interview

I had a lot of fun interviewing at USC because the students and staff were very friendly, encouraging and welcoming! My interview day went like this:

I arrived early, and checked-in and was given a folder with information about the program, USC and the interview day (including who you were interviewing with). (Hint: also in the packet was a list of current faculty and some of their biographical information. I found it very helpful to read up about the faculty member that I was going to be interviewing with.) We got to mingle with other interviewees and the first year PA students that were helping that day. After mingling we were all taken in to one of the classrooms where we got to get to do an icebreaker. I think the icebreaker really helped get me and the rest of the interviews relaxed and feel like we were peers and not competition. After the icebreaker, we were given a presentation on the program, and introduced to USC alumni that would be helping with the interview process.

After the introductions we were split into three groups. My group got to talk with a panel of students first. This was a very helpful, because they gave true insight into how the program was and how AWESOME it is. It was basically a Q and A, but very relaxed. Next our group went to the interview, where we each interviewed with a current student and a faculty member/alumni. In my interview they did a great job with the questions. I got nothing out of the ordinary, and I felt it went really well. (I felt at home!) After our interviews our group got to speak with an alumni panel. Talking to them was great because you get some insight into what life after PA school is like, and it looks exciting! (In, my eyes anyway)

After the three sections, all of the interviewees, interviewers, students and alumni got to have lunch together. On our interview day Dr. Lohenry the director was not able to come until later, so he spoke to all of us for a short while during lunch. Dr. Lohenry is a great guy and you should meet him if you get a chance. (Frankly there are a lot of people (not just at USC) I would like to introduce to all the pre-PA people I know, but I can't. That is why getting out there and networking as much as possible and meeting the right people can be key, to your success in become a better PA!)

If you have questions feel free to leave them!  Remember I want you to be a better PA not just a PA applicant.

Go Trojans!

(Image from :