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Young Ophthalmologists
5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Career

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Are you entering practice or looking for a new position? Then the Professional Choices Job Fair — Sunday, Nov. 9, from 2:15 p.m. to 5 p.m. — is for you! Begun in 2003, the job fair returns this year as a convenient forum connecting hundreds of physicians seeking employment opportunities with representatives from nearly 90 hiring practices. Best of all, it’s FREE for job seekers. Here’s how to get the most from your experience.

Getting the Most from the Job Fair
If you have preregistered and filled out your employment preferences for the job fair, you’ve taken the first step to connect with hiring practices. Preparation shouldn’t stop there, though. YO Committee member Rob Melendez, MD, says what you do between now and the meeting can go a long way toward a successful job fair experience.

  1. Research potential employers. If you preregistered, you should soon receive a packet listing all the hiring practices participating in the Job Fair. If you haven’t preregistered, e-mail jbarth@aao.org to request a packet. Use this information to learn about the practices you plan to meet with the day of the job fair. “If you know that you’re interviewing, you need to do a lot of homework,” Dr. Melendez says. “That involves asking fellow classmates, professors—asking as many people as you know about that practice.” Don’t overlook pharmaceutical reps in that research. “Those guys and gals know more than anyone,” Dr. Melendez says. “Pharmaceutical reps know the skinny and the dirt on nearly every doctor in private practice.” Friends and peers new to a practice may have yet to learn about a certain doctor’s “horrible temper” or other issues a pharma rep could warn you of.
  2. Bone up on job-search and interview advice. The YO Info practice management archives are a great place to start, with several articles on negotiating partnerships, what to do after graduation and more. Our top picks from the archives:
  3. Ask good questions. Dr. Melendez recommends quizzing practices on specific issues, especially regarding turnover. “The ideal answer is, ‘Actually, we haven’t had any turnover in the last five years,’” he says. “What you’re really looking for is a pause and hesitation” that could signify a qualified answer. He also recommends asking why a practice is seeking a new ophthalmologist (growth, unmet need, retiring partner, etc.). Another key issue to vet out is the nature of work/life balance. Rather than asking about a practice’s call schedule, which can “send a message that you’re lazy,” Melendez suggests a casual question on hobbies, posed toward the end of the conversation. “If that person does not have any hobbies, then most likely, they’re married to the job.” If, however, the person mentions particular passions outside the office, Melendez says “that tells you it’s probably fairly balanced.”
  4. Bring copies of your resume to the job fair. While hiring practices at the fair will be sent your information in advance — if you preregistered—they will still know less about you than you’ve had the chance to learn about them. Make it easy on them by bringing copies of your resume with you. Melendez also recommends you have an electronic version at the ready. “They might say, ‘Can you just e-mail that to me?’ Then you can e-mail it when you get back at your hotel.” If the file is stored online somewhere, you could also access and send it using the free WiFi in the YO Lounge or other stations at the meeting.
  5. Make the most of the YO Lounge and events. In addition to being a place to relax, the lounge is a great place to mingle with some of the experts you’ll be hearing from during the YO Program. Don’t miss this chance to get their advice on finding a first or next job, or even finding out if they’re familiar with any of the hiring practices you’re interested in. Don’t forget to bring business cards, though! “Having a business card ready is very important,” Melendez says. “Not only for the job fair, but when you’re meeting people on the exhibit floor. You always run into someone there.” In addition to the YO Lounge, he also recommends attending alumni receptions. “Those are the ideal places to network … There’s always someone looking for someone.”

Join Us in Atlanta!
Do your research in advance, then come with resume in hand, enjoy a beverage and meet and mingle with prospective employers and practices. What could be easier? The Professional Choices Job Fair is Sunday, Nov. 9, from 2:15 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Hall A-1, Level 1. We’ll see you there!

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About the author: Janine Barth is the programs administrator for the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives.