They say first impressions are everything, and in today’s world of online communication and social media engagement, your online presence is just as important as an in-person interaction. The way you interact, including the words you use and the questions you ask, can tell medical schools a lot about you. There’s more at stake than you may realize during these online events. For example, at the AAMC Virtual Medical School Fair last year, one medical school reported inviting some applicants they chatted with to interview after their online chat. Every interaction matters—even virtual connections that take place in a chat room.
But before you start chatting, we encourage you to be aware of important dos—and equally important don’ts—to ensure you make the most of the event.
The 10 Dos and Don’ts for Attending a Virtual Medical School Fair
- a little research on the schools you are most interested in. Check out their individual websites, or use the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) database.
- type in full sentences as you chat, avoid slang and emoticons, and watch your spelling.
- be prepared to talk about your medical school aspirations, as well as your academic work and experiences that demonstrate your skills and competencies.
- take a look at your social media accounts. Many medical schools search for applicants on the internet and on social media platforms, so be sure all of your accounts are professional and up-to-date and check your settings to keep information private.
- test your connection to make sure you can hear, see, and communicate easily. A laptop or desktop might work better than a tablet or smartphone. Also, be sure you have access to reliable WiFi if you are not at home.
- use a nickname or clever screenname. Schools may want to reach out to you at a later date and this may make it challenging to find you (and may lead them to question your professionalism).
- be impatient and leave a chat or repeat a question if the medical school staffer does not respond right away. Remember that they may have multiple chats going on simultaneously.
- address the school representatives by their first name. If you want to address them directly, use the appropriate salutation (Dr., Mr., or Ms.) and their last name.
- forget to thank the person you are chatting with for their time.
- miss out on a great opportunity to follow-up with your contacts. Send an email to people you connected with to thank them for their time or to ask further questions. While it’s virtual, it’s still a nice idea to send a personal note after the event.