What Is Experiential Learning?
Any opportunity that allows you to live your learning by applying classroom knowledge to real-life experiences.
Biomedical studies-related experiential learning can happen on-campus through:
- Work study: as academic department assistants, laboratory, research, or
teaching assistants, paper grading, tutoring, Center for Interdisciplinary
Research (CIR) positions, etc.
- Co-curricular activities: Pre-Med Club, St. Olaf Chemistry Society,
Student Nurses Association, Tri-Beta, St. Olaf Cancer Connection,
Student Global AIDS Campaign, Students for Reproductive Health, St.
Olaf EMT’s, Alpha Phi Omega, Mind-Body Studies Organization, etc.
- Volunteer activities: Laura Baker School, Health Finders, SARN, Adopt a
- Service learning: medical-related domestic and international service trips
(ex. Mission to Peru, Nicaragua, Semester in India)
- Research in your academic area: Independent Study, Independent Research, St. Olaf summer undergraduate research, summer research through other colleges/universities or medical institutions.
Experiential learning can also take place through:
- Externships: job shadowing experiences
- Mentor experiences: Develop longer-term/sustained relationships with
alumni/professionals for vocational guidance and support.
- Internships: An internship is a supervised work experience providing an opportunity to link academics to the workplace.
Examples: medical scribe, physical therapy clinics, R&D/lab science or clinical research at a biotech, medical device, or pharmaceutical company
- Summer jobs: nursing aid, home health care, swim lessons to disabled
children, Camp Courage or Camp Friendship
- Entrepreneurial involvements: Mayo Medical Ventures, Finstad entrepreneurial grants related to sciences
Experiential learning allows you to develop transferable skills and test out whether a specific career path is for you. Supplementing your academics with applied experience is the best way to show future graduate admissions personnel and employers that you have the skills needed to succeed in graduate/professional school on the job!
*Adapted from a Piper Center publication prepared by Sandy Malecha.
The Piper Center for Vocation and Career can help facilitate experiential learning
opportunities that complement your curricular learning and enrich your academic
program. Experiential learning will guide you in the process for pursuing your vocational
goals. The Piper Center houses four programs: career connections, entrepreneurship, internships, and service and civic leadership. Utilize the Piper Center to develop, implement and evaluate your career/life plans, take advantage of entrepreneurial activities, explore and pursue internships, and get involved with service and community programs.
The Piper Center is located currently in Tomson Hall 270 (x3268) and is open Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm. Piper Center staff will work individually with students and present many useful career sessions and workshops throughout the year. The Piper Center also has extensive written resources and online tools which are available to students.
St. Olaf graduates pursue a wide range of activities and directions. Roughly 20% immediately go on to graduate/professional school, around 10-15% choose to volunteer full-time, and the remainder find employment. Although it may seem that many students in the biomedical sciences choose the graduate/professional school route, many others take a year or two off to pursue service related opportunities, and others yet find work at the bachelors level in science (and non-science) related positions. If you are looking to explore your options in the science realm, or plan to take a year or two “off” to explore your options, the Piper Center encourages you to think strategically about your goals and skills you’d like to gain.
You may also find the University of Minnesota Health Careers Center useful. Regular workshops are available on a wide variety of health career opportunities and some online workshops are being developed. Follow this link to St. Olaf's Health Professions Committee's website and under the "University of Minnesota Health Careers Center" bullet click "St. Olaf students, faculty and staff" and sign in with your St. Olaf username and password.