Exposure to Careers in the Health Professions
There are many ways to explore various career options in the health professions. You need direct exposure to health care professionals and an opportunity to observe them in their work environment. Health Care Professional schools are looking for well-rounded individuals who are interested in a wide variety of areas and have demonstrated their interest in the health professions and people. Students should take advantage of the many opportunities to obtain patient contact and observe healthcare. Informational interviews, job shadowing, and internships are three useful approaches to acquiring information about various health careers. The Piper Center for Vocation and Career can also supply information and assist with a web search for alums and is a good place to start.
Informational interviews can be easily arranged with alums or other professionals. An informational interview is an opportunity for you, the student, to ask questions and gather information from professionals in your career areas of interest. Ideally, it’s an opportunity to visit a professional at her/his place of work and get a feel for the working environment, job responsibilities, and the best avenues/paths to enter such a career. In this setting you are the interviewer so prepare and plan accordingly. Choose to speak with St. Olaf alumni and/or professionals in your community working in areas that match your interests. The staff of the Piper Center and Coordinator of the Biomedical Studies Concentration can help you identify resources and prepare to meet with available professionals.
Job shadowing usually involves a longer period of time (hours to several days) and allows you the opportunity to observe the health care professional in their place of employment.
Internships involve a longer exposure to a health care profession and may be arranged during the interim, semester, or over the summer. Internships during the sophomore or junior year work well and can be completed for 0.5 or 1.0 units of academic credit, either domestically or internationally. There are also internships which are implemented into the course of international and off-campus study programs. Many students arrange a non-credit career experience internship over the summer which does not involve tuition. The Piper Center has a wide variety of information on internships including how to contact a health care professional and how to complete the internship learning agreement and plan. Contact the Internship Coordinator in the Piper Center early in the process to arrange a successful internship which can be very useful in discerning your career choices.