How BME Majors Can Get Experience | BioMedical Mondays 09

Experience is a dark word when it comes to young people looking for a job.  There seems to be a catch-22 when searching for it.  “How do you get experience, when you have none to begin with?”  This is especially true for the Millennial generation and downwards.  Employers are less likely to give an engineering major with no relevant experience a chance for many reasons.  One big reason is because most employers do not want to train employees.  Unfortunately, most employers do not have a robust training program for employees.  It costs a large amount of resources and there is fear that the employee will move on after 2-3 years.  The reality is most employees do not stay for long at a company.  Long gone are the Industrial Age days where people work for a company for their entire life and then receive a pension. Although getting hired in today’s economy is much more difficult than before, it does not mean that it is impossible today.  After all, everyone started out with no experience.  Without further ado, here are five ways BME (biomedical engineering) majors can get experience!

  1. Internship and/or Co-op: This is the best option of all, with the biggest benefit that you are getting direct experience in your field.  This becomes a huge selling point and gives you an unbelievable competitive advantage in your field. The only problem is everyone else is trying to get one.  Every single BME major has access to the internet and their respective college job posting board.  Most of them know this is extremely important.  Because of this, BME majors need to make sure that their elevator pitch is down, along with their job hunting (in this case internship/co-op) and interview skills.  If they are not, spend some time practicing them.  One final tip, try to be a part of a co-op.  There is a 90% chance that the employer is going to extend you an offer.  Think about it. Youdevoted 40 hours a week for at least a semester to, for the most part, an actual job. Every new hire is a risk.  It becomes way too risky for the employer to hire someone new.  If you do not get a job with that company, you can always sell yourself to another using the the co-op experience.

  2. Free Work: These two words may scare many BME majors.  Never be afraid of this.  As you have probably realized getting experience is extremely important.  This is a good strategy because most BME majors do not think of this.  People pay thousands of dollars to get a degree that may not get them a job, but most people are unwilling to do any type of free work in their field.  This makes no sense whatsoever.  Paying for college may put you in debt, but the unpaid internship/free work costs you nothing. There are many examples of people succeeding because of this strategy, one being  Warren Buffett.  People would not know him as “The Wizard of Omaha” if he did not work for free for his graduate professor Benjamin Graham.  Try to see if there are any medical startups in your area.  If there are no startups, go to whatever is in your region.  The benefit of working for a startup is that you learn a lot in a very short amount of time.  Go to every startup and ask if you can work for free.  Do this without expecting anything in return.  Sell it as if it is a win-win situation for both, because it is. You are getting experience and they are getting labor at a good "price".  

  3. Research: Start looking around your college campus or nearby for some research opportunities.  Make sure it is relevant to your field.   Being in research develops your writing skills, along with the ability to network.  There are also many research engineering jobs, which makes it directly applicable in that sense. Start with building better relationships with your professors, standing out in class, visiting their office hours, and then ask them for a position. If they have nothing, ask them to connect you with their professorial peers.

  4. Attend Hackathons: A hackathon is an event where people come together and code for a weekend to solve a problem.  A lot of hackathons include both software and hardware applications.  MLH (Major League Hacking) is one of the biggest organizers in the United States and arguably the world for hackathons.  They have many hackathons across college campuses all over the United States.  There is a health section in about everyone of them.  Attend that portion.  You will learn about the problems, the pain-points, along with many practical skills for building software, hardware, and business all in a condensed period of time.  Make sure you network there as well.

  5. Personal Projects:  Last but not least, do personal projects.  This can be anything in healthcare.  Whether you are coding for some medical device or actually creating some medical device, do something.  Even if it is just copying something that someone else made and posted on the internet.  One applicable area any BME major can learn is Arduino.  Arduino is a company that creates single board micro-controllers and micro-controller kits for digital products, open source projects, and so much more. Many companies use Arduino to prototype and test out possible solutions.  Who knows? Maybe you will create the next big breakthrough via some personal project. Even if you do not, at least you will show initiative and innovation skills.

These are five ways BME majors can get experience in their field.  If you apply these five tactics to get gain experience, you will be guaranteed to accumulate some.  Just remember to start as soon as possible and never quit on yourself, no matter how difficult it may become. There is always a way to break into any industry!

Author: Hamza Waheed