Gaining business experience in college can be invaluable for your medical career.
First, premed students can learn business skills like operations, strategy, finance and accounting that they can utilize when running hospital departments or their own medical practices in the future. If premed students are interested in drug discovery, business skills can be used to bring a drug to market.
Second, business roles typically require interactions with other individuals and can give premeds interpersonal experience. Premed students often work in teams to achieve project goals, and they can learn leadership skills if they manage other individuals. Some business roles require students to form partnerships with other organizations.
Finally, business roles are often centered around projects and goals. Premed students can apply their academic skills in managing deadlines toward real-world business projects. Students often work on new products or challenging business issues that require critical thinking and brainstorming.
There are several business opportunities that premeds can pursue during their summers and over the course of the school year.
Business Roles Over the Summer
Summer business opportunities often come in the form of internships. Because these internships tend to be full-time roles over the course of several months, students have the opportunity to work on at least one substantial project.
Here are some potential business internship sites and possible roles.
Pharmaceutical company. Students typically work in research and development, although other roles include marketing and business development. Projects include forecasting the sales of various pharmaceutical products and researching potential biotech companies for partnerships.
Medical device company. Students can learn how to design medical devices and how to bring products to market. Roles include gaining feedback to create or improve the function of a medical device; researching scientific literature for ideas to incorporate into such a device; and analyzing product sales.
Health care start-up. Welcome to the world of entrepreneurship. Working for a start-up company typically involves wearing a lot of different hats. Since start-ups usually have fewer employees, interns are needed everywhere. Depending on the need, interns can work in areas ranging from sales marketing and content marketing for the website to soliciting customer feedback. Premeds with computer science skills can use their coding skills to develop analytics to better understand customer behavior or improve a health tech product.
Venture capital. Venture capitalists are looking for start-up companies to invest in. Internships may include research on a specific industry niche followed by additional research into companies that can be potential investments. Students can network by speaking to business leaders, attending management presentations, participating in industry conferences and chatting with subject-matter experts to learn more about a specific health care niche.
Hospital administration. Students can learn how a hospital operates by being assigned specific projects to improve hospital operations. For example, an intern may work with the outpatient internal medicine department to decrease patient wait times. Students are also typically invited to administrative meetings throughout the hospital, so they gain exposure to various departments, negotiations and decision-making processes behind hospital priorities.
Strategy consulting. As a consultant, premed student interns are part of a team that advises other companies on business strategy questions. For example, a client may ask, “Should we expand into South America? If so, which product lines and which specific countries will bring us the most revenue?” Consulting teams usually consists of two analysts, a manager and the lead principal. Your work, as one of the analysts, may involve conducting due diligence and research based on the strategy question; analyzing the information gathered; and putting the recommendations in PowerPoint slides to convey information clearly and visibly. Students may even have the opportunity to present their work to business clients.
Financial services. One popular health care finance arena for premeds is investment banking. As part of an investment banking team, students help other companies or clients understand their competitive landscape and whether they should acquire other companies. As part of a finance team, your role could include creating financial models; conducting a competitive landscape analysis of competitors in a particular industry; or writing financial research reports that typically include financial models to support findings.
Business Opportunities During the School Year
There are other ways premed students can gain additional business experience during the school year if they cannot commit enough time to one of the summer roles referenced. You can learn valuable business concepts and broaden your understanding of the health care landscape outside of clinical medicine by taking advantage of one of the following business opportunities during the school year.
Attend an innovation hub. Innovation hubs are usually centered at universities or in entrepreneurial urban centers and often sponsor events where company founders speak. These are great networking opportunities for premed students to meet entrepreneurs, and you might be able to find your next job or internship at one. Some innovation hubs teach members how to create start-up companies, among other topics related to entrepreneurship.
Participate in a “hackathon” or business pitch competition. A health hackathon typically centers around a broad health care problem, and each participant is part of a team that creates a solution. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hosts “MIT Hacking Medicine” and its most recent hackathon focused on rare diseases. Each team’s ideas are judged, and some teams even create businesses based on their hackathon ideas. Premed students who join these types of hackathons or business pitch competitions learn to form a solution to a health care problem, speak with customers who would benefit from the new product and convince investors to fund the idea.
Join a consulting, investing or finance club on campus. Colleges often have a wide array of business clubs where you can hone your interview skills and learn how to write resumes. Additionally, some clubs might have projects for students in which they can advise companies on their business problems during semester-long consulting or finance projects.
There are vast opportunities to gain business experiences during college, even as a busy premed student. The above opportunities listed are only a sampling of where premed students can get involved. Skills you gain will not only be valuable on your medical school applications, but, more importantly, they will also help you throughout your professional career.
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