Non-Trad's Game Plan for 2018 Application Cycle


My name is Parth; I am 23 years old and I currently work for an energy startup where my responsibilities span across various functions at the company (i.e. business development, finance, M&A, etc). I graduated last summer with a B.Sc. in Finance and Accounting, and earned a 3.6 cumulative GPA.

Currently, I am studying for the MCAT, working full time, and attending school to finish the required premed classes by early 2018. I’d finished some premed courses during my freshmen year in college when I was an undecided major (3.0 GPA after freshmen year). But then I decided to major in Finance because I was interested in Business/Finance at that point. I brought my GPA up to 3.6 (while interning every single semester of college starting sophomore year) by the time I graduated. Eventually, after interning at various places, I ended up working for an Energy startup on a full time basis. When I joined, I was the 7th employee (company worth $0), and now has around 250 employees (worth $2 Billion).

[highlight=yellow:3h4m61lc]Here are some of my questions to help me prepare for the 2018 application cycle:[/highlight:3h4m61lc]

  1. Is my 3.6 GPA good enough to apply to MD schools? n.b. I was interning every single semester at various different places during school, and this is what hindered me from achieving an even higher GPA. Would Med schools understand this?
  2. How can I leverage my full-time experience working at a startup, and being in business field into my application process? What exactly do med schools like about non-trads? Specifically, someone coming from a completely unrelated field like business. Granted I have the business/finance knowledge required to understand the healthcare space.
  3. And lastly, does my 3.0GPA in freshmen year hurt my chances significantly (this is where I had taken some premed classes)? I am working my hardest to score well in the classes that I am taking/will be taking this year.
  4. Any other advice for me based on my story? I am very passionate about pursuing Medicine, and am willing to work really really hard so I can get into MD school. But would really appreciate any help I can get to help me get there.

    Thanks again OldPreMeds community! All the forums, and podcasts have helped me out a lot in guiding me through this process.
  1. A 3.6 is for sure good enough to apply to MD schools. I wouldn’t come out and say your academic performance is due to the internships though. That’s opening up the door for people to either question your multitasking ability and why you would take on more than you could handle if you think you could’ve done better (that’s the cynic’s way to view it anyway). You made decisions, and you must own those decisions and not blame external forces for the outcomes of those decisions. A 3.6 isn’t bad, and there really shouldn’t be a reason to try to explain it away. The better thing to do would be to highlight what you learned from those internships and how they made you a better person.

  2. Experience is great. Being part of a company from the ground-up surely taught you a thing or two about yourself, about life, about leadership, about decision-making, etc. Leverage the lessons learned from your experiences. I feel like the money/size of the company is worth mentioning, but really what they look for in students isn’t how much money you made from the experiences, but your ability to learn and reflect from those experiences. For example, saying you supervised x people and made a ton of money doing it is less impressive as saying how you lead them, what strategies you used for team building, how you adapted to different personalities, and that you were able to be successful in your endeavors.

  3. Your application will break out your GPA into science and “other”, then combine them for a cumulative average. A 3.0 isn’t going to sink you, especially if it was your freshman year and a few years ago. Doing well now will definitely look good for you though. I was told by an interviewer that at that particular school, they were supposed to ask me about any "C"s I had on my record (which implies that you could get an interview with Cs…) Keep in mind that not everyone that gets into med school had a 4.0 in college, and there are people with 4.0 in college that didn’t get into med school. Do well, but be a human being…

  4. Refer to my response to question 2. In addition, if you haven’t shadowed any physicians, I would highly highly highly recommend you find the time to do so. Because the course is brutal and long to become a physician, it’s best to know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s the responsible thing for you to do for yourself, and admissions folks will be happy (some require) to see that you have at least an idea as to what you’re committing what is effectively the rest of your life to.

Thanks Kennymac for the prompt response. This is very helpful.

  1. Ok, that totally makes sense. The best part about all of my previous internship and current work experience is how much I’ve learned in this whole process. And that is definitely something I plan on highlighting.

  2. Here my logic was to show that the company grew (from being worth $0 to $2B) over the course of 1.5 years I’ve been working. Personally, it has been a tremendous learning experience for me in being part of a growing team, working with various personalities, getting exposed to various functions within the company where I developed many different skills, and most important finding about what I would really like to do in my future. And I never really took this job for money. I just wanted to learn, and I admired my CEO (which is why I joined his team). Personally, I don’t expect to make a lot of money from this because I will be heading to med school and the way equity works is I’ll have to stay 3-4 years before I can get ownership in the company. But nonetheless, I completely understand your point. My only focus will be highlighting how much I’ve learned from the experience, how I’ve grown, became a better person, etc.

  3. That makes me feel better. I will try my hardest to get really good scores in classes that I’ll be taking this year. I do need to improve my science GPA to show Med schools that I can keep up with science course work as well.

  4. Yup, I’ll be starting to shadow my family physician once a week in June. And I hope to shadow other physicians in the future as well, but my main focus is to get good score on MCAT first, and get good scores in rest of my science classes, and then focus on shadowing other physicians after. Does this sound like a good strategy?

    And on a side note on community service. I’ve held various leadership positions when I was in school for community services. And I’ve also founded a non-profit that sponsors education for young children that can’t afford to attend school in India. We’ve sponsored 5 children so far. I am guessing, having community service of any kind will be favorable; but do I need community service within healthcare? I would enjoy doing it, but given the fact that I’ll have so much on my plate, I need to prioritize some things so I can apply in 2018.

    Thanks again Kennymac for your answers!! Really appreciate your help.

I didn’t mean to say not to mention how much the company is worth. It’s really impressive that it has built up that much in such a short time. I just meant not to hang your hat on that fact, because while it’s cool, it doesn’t say much about YOU. It sounds like you’ve got a lot to talk about from a personal standpoint too (that’s a good thing).

Technically, aside from shadowing, you really don’t need to have any healthcare experience to get into med school. You should focus on being involved in things you enjoy, like your non-profit. It shows more initiative and looks like you actually care about something other than getting the boxes checked off for the traditional applicant.

Shadowing is meant to be a non-science learning experience. You’re not doing it to become that doctor, you’re just doing it to learn what it’s like to be a doctor and work within the healthcare field. It should be a low-stress, highly interesting experience. Definitely just look to do it in your spare time and don’t treat it like the job it isn’t. It may be beneficial to see different services/fields, but it isn’t wholly necessary in my opinion. Get the general understanding of a day in the life of a doc, you don’t have to decide what you want to be when you “grow up” until 4th year of medical school.

Ok, great. Understood. This is very helpful. Thanks again for the help Kennymac.