Those of you who watched the Super Bowl probably already know that Beyonce performed at the Halftime show. To be completely honest I had no idea that she was even performing. I had been working in the Emergency Room (ER) the past couple of days and my shifts were all over the place so I did not have time to catch up on the world around me. The ER is one of those rotations when you feel displaced from the world around you because your schedule is all over the place and does not match with a normal 8-5pm schedule. And on the day of the Super Bowl I had a shift in the ER so I did not have a chance to watch the Super Bowl. So the next morning when I looked at all of the headlines in regards to Beyonce’s performance, I remembered trying to figure out what had happened that there were so many news headlines. For the most part, Beyonce stays under the radar and does not really make headlines.
For those who did not watch the Halftime show, a quick recap would be that Beyonce’s new single was released the day before and she continued to perform her new single the next day at the Super Bowl. Beyonce’s performance at the Halftime show had a lot of political and social messages- specifically in regards to the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. Her part of the show has sparked a lot of controversy and when there is controversy there is both good and bad associated with it. In Beyonce’s performance and music video for her new song “Formation” she uses different subliminal and point blank messages to get her point across which is to bring more attention to African Americans and some of the conflicting events of the past year involving the police force and African Americans. We can learn a lot from Beyonce’s performance and music video. For days on end people have been asking Beyonce for her opinion in regards to different events and incidents going on in the African American community. She has remained quiet for a long time in an effort to wait for the perfect time to state her opinions. Beyonce knew that by waiting for the most appropriate time to state her opinions, she would gain the most exposure and have a more widespread impact. So she waited for her spotlight in the Super Bowl because she knew that she would be able to reach a more widespread audience, getting more people who maybe do not listen to her music. Many people are saying that the Super Bowl was the best time to bring attention to these issues because so many people are sitting in the stands, at home, in parties, etc and the type of exposure you get is immeasurable. Further, the types of discussions that have resulted would not be at this level if this was not something that happened during the Super Bowl.
This is an important lesson for YOU as a premedical student. Getting the right type of exposure is key for you. Just like Beyonce, you want to get across the point that you are a good student and would make a wonderful addition to any medical school.
You might be thinking…what does that even mean? Well it means a couple of different things:
USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Medical schools are more and more looking at social media in deciding whether or not to give certain applicants interviews. It is much easier to ruin your chances of getting an interview by having inappropriate things on social media rather than the other way around. Just a caveat, try to clean up your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever else exists out there before you apply for medical school. I have heard some of my friends who sit on the medical school admissions committee talk about some improper pictures they saw of applicants online and how they deferred to another student. But social media can be helpful in allowing you a way to contact people associated with a medical school that you are interested in. Many schools now even have Facebook pages or Twitter pages where you can post questions. This is a wonderful opportunity to highlight yourself to admissions officers who take peeks on these pages to see who is interested in the school. Medical students also get on these pages to answer questions and can report to admissions teams about premed students who have been active on these pages in order to relay interest. Remember what we learned from Beyonce that it is all about exposure. The more that they see your name in a positive light the better. But please remember do not be that annoying premed student that overdoes it and asks questions one after the other. Manners are always important. Always be polite.
TALKING TO MED SCHOOL REPRESENTATIVES AT THE RIGHT TIME
There are many conferences you can go to and meet different representatives from medical schools. If you make the right type of connection, these representatives can be very helpful and useful for you in trying to get into medical school. But the caveat here is that when you talk to these representatives makes all of the difference. If you make a great connection your first year in undergrad, it is great that you made a connection but it just is not likely that the representative will remember you a couple of years down the road. So timing is of the essence in this situation. Although it is a great idea to go to conferences and meet different people, you may not be as successful trying to make a connection so early on. However, there are some people I know who kept in touch with different representatives for some time and this helped them later on. The way that these students did it was they wanted to get involved with research at a specific medical school and asked for help from these representatives. It would be easy to keep connected with these representatives if you became involved with the school. Another thing to keep in mind is talking to medical students is helpful but most medical students are not involved in decision making. There is a very small subset of medical students who do play an active role in the admissions process but I would not rely on that. Nonetheless, talking to medical students is a great way of learning more about the school and also a wonderful way to get involved in research.
PERFORMING RESEARCH WHERE YOU WANT TO GO
Getting involved in a research project at a medical school that you really want to go to is such a good way of highlighting yourself because faculty members in your research project are likely to give you good recommendations which hold more weight than a recommendation from someone the medical school is not familiar with. You can use social media to get exposed to research projects because many research projects are displayed online and there are online discussion forums available. You can post on these discussion forums with questions or thoughts about the research project and this is a great way of getting involved with a project. Timing here is important as well because doing this too late could be unhelpful for you. You do not want to start making contacts at the end of your third year of college because it takes time for these contacts to develop. Also, you want to make sure you spend some time in the research before asking for a letter of recommendation.
ASKING FOR FAVORS FROM THE RIGHT PEOPLE
There are many people who know other people in high places and although I am not always all about getting favors to get you places, sometimes it is okay to do that. If you are okay with asking for a favor and it will not weigh down on you, then by all means you should ask. Many times though, asking for a favor only goes so far. If you are not a great candidate, then no amount of favors will overcome that. A favor will help to highlight you as an applicant but in no way means that you will get in because the interview is all you. That said, there is a good time to ask for a favor. You should ask prior to or very close to when you put in your applications. If you are not close to this person anymore but would like to talk to them about a specific school, talk to them earlier. What I mean is that you want to rekindle the relationship early on in the game and not wait until September or October of the year that you are applying. Rekindle the relationship early and then mention your desire to go to that specific medical school but make sure you are not too outright or rude because that could hurt your chances.