I was recently speaking to a colleague who graduated with his MD from UCSF and his MPH from Harvard. He’s a successful, practicing physician, and we were discussing some advice he had offered an undergraduate acquaintance who is pursuing medicine.
My colleague had advised the college student to ensure she gets to know faculty: During his undergraduate years at Stanford, my colleague had gotten acquainted with a few professors by inviting them to lunch. He had to call one or two several times before they met with him! But once they did, my colleague’s opportunities really expanded. One of the professors in particular realized my colleague’s potential and good nature and offered him a position on an honor committee and a strong medical school recommendation.
I wish someone had advised me early to get to know faculty. It turned out okay for me but not without having to do some hard thinking about whom I was going to ask for faculty recommendations. Acquainting yourself with faculty early in your academic career can afford you research and leadership opportunities. Of course, it can also help you with those much-needed letters of recommendation.