December 16, 2016, by mzykr3
Three Steps To Make The Most of Networking Events
by Krishna Rajan, BMedSci, graduated 2016, and 4th medical student
Even though my fellow colleagues and I are (un)lucky enough to know what job we will have upon graduating our course, most of us are still unclear about what career we see ourselves in. As a result, when career networking events pop up, I am the first to sign up. It offers me a window through which I am able to see potential career options – even if it is vicariously through the speakers! Last month, I went to – and helped organise – the Medical Women’s Federation’s “Women in Medicine and Surgery” event.
Here’s what I learned:
Step 1: Prioritise
Although some people have a clear idea of where they see themselves in the future, us less fortuitous folk need a game plan. Having an idea about what your priorities are will help guide what you would like to get out of the event. For example, if you feel a work-life balance is your key goal, keep that in mind as you listen to people’s experiences. Having an idea about what you want from your career will help you filter out what interests you and what you want to rule out.
Step 2: Explore
We are all guilty of gravitating around familiarity – that’s why it’s called a comfort zone! At networking events, it can help to keep an open mind. You could be surprised at what interests you if you knew a bit more about it.
At this event, I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to women in various fields of medicine. A career I had never pictured myself in was radiology, however, when a paediatric radiologist started to explain the highs and lows of her job, it actually piqued my interest. So much so, that we started discussing ‘taster days’, and I walked away with her email address and an invitation to shadow her one day. This brings me to my next point…
Step 3: Ask
This event had an incredibly informal tone to it, but the prospect of talking to women at the top of their careers was still incredibly daunting. I kept two things in mind: firstly, they have chosen to be there in order to answer your questions and develop your interest in their specialties; secondly, they were once in our position too – anxious, clueless, and curious. Don’t be worried about asking a lot of questions – speakers and representatives at networking events will recognise your enthusiasm as a good thing.
Networking can help you gain an insight into careers you may never have considered in a million years. Sometimes I can’t decide if I come away even more confused about my career aspirations – I must admit, after every event I’m convinced a new specialty is the one for me. Ultimately, even if you walk away from a career event with nothing but a clear idea of what you absolutely do not want to do, that is a huge step in the right direction.