Guest article by Emily Long. Emily is part of the communications team at Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences in Lancaster, PA.
As a diagnostic medical sonography student, you are probably starting to explore the job market in effort to secure employment upon graduation. This, of course, is not a unique circumstance. Every year thousands of students in all sorts of academic programs are concerned about landing their first job.
Facing the professional world and entering the work force can be intimidating. Not to mention the stress of competing with so many other new graduates. How can you stand out from the other sonographers who possess the same degree and knowledge as you? Fear not! There are several practical ways you can start building your resume while still attending a diagnostic medical sonography program.
Volunteer in a Health Care Facility
This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but many students have difficulty finding the time for volunteer work in the midst of classes, tests, and clinicals. That’s okay. You don’t need to volunteer during the semester if you feel it would put you behind in your schoolwork. Students in the health sciences are strongly encouraged to seek out relevant volunteer opportunities during semester breaks. Volunteering in a hospital or private practice during the summer can give you real world health care
experience, helping your resume to stand out among other job applicants.
Shadow Current Sonographers
Shadowing a diagnostic medical sonographer is another great way to gain insights to the profession while still in school. Though you may not be asked to carry out tasks as you would in a volunteer position or internship, there is plenty to learn by observation. Employers want to see you taking the initiate to enhance your skills and expand your knowledge of the field in which you are seeking employment.
Network, Network, Network
The value of professional networking cannot be overstated. You never know what sort of opportunities could come from a previous connection. Keep in contact with supervisors and other employees you worked with in the past. This doesn’t have to be a weekly phone call, but exchanging the occasional email helps to keep your name top-of-mind when a sonography position becomes available or when you are looking for good references.
Don’t limit yourself to just employers or co-workers either. Mentors and professors can be fantastic relationships to maintain when establishing yourself in the professional world. Remember that sonographer you shadowed last semester? They may not be in charge of hiring new employees, but they could put in a good word for you if a position opens up in their facility.
Use tools like LinkedIn and Email to keep the communication lines open. Remember, if you don’t keep in touch with members of your professional network, they will have no way of knowing you are even looking for a job, much less recommend you for open positions.
Spending the summer abroad, taking mission trips, or contributing to various campus organizations are all non-professional activities that can add value to your resume. These experiences usually develop at least one quality or skill that is necessary in the working world and should be included in the “experience” portion of your resume. The key is constructing a resume that highlights the value of your unique life experiences. For example, spending an extended amount of time abroad may have provided you with language skills that are beneficial in a health care position.
Personal Interests—Athletic Activities, Art Projects, Cooking, Etc.
Including some personal interests in your resume can help show your personality. Allowing a hiring manager to understand who you are and what you enjoy, lets them better evaluate whether or not you would be a good fit for the company’s culture. Private practice facilities and hospitals need to maintain a team of professionals who not only have the knowledge required to help patients, but who possess the attitude and character to uphold the facility’s values. Feel free to do a little digging on the employer—find out if they support any causes you are passionate about. Perhaps they participate in a local volleyball league. If so, this might be a great opportunity to let them know you make a fantastic middle blocker.
Applying for your first job as a sonographer can seem daunting. But there are lots of great ways to start enhancing your resume before you even graduate. Applying a few of the suggestions discussed here can help you get ahead of the curve.
A dynamic and rigorously academic institution, Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences is a private, accredited, four-year college offering associate and baccalaureate degree programs as well as certificate programs. The College’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography placement rate of over 70%.