You just spent the past 4 years of your life in dental school studying day and night, taking countless exams, exposing yourself to all kinds of things you never imagined (homeless shelters, hospitals, possibly prisons), and now you?re finally done (those that aren?t going to specialize or do a GPR)! Now what? How do you get a job? Maybe you know somebody that?s a dentist, or maybe you don?t. You have zero experience; you don?t even have a license! So what do you do? Well, I was in this position. It?s tough, but I found my way and so can you.
The process for finding a job after dental school should actually start when you?re in dental school. If you have a family member or a friend, you may have an easier time finding a job, but I didn?t have that luxury. So I?m here to help those of you that have no dental connections.
You need to start making connections with people in the dental field when you?re in dental school. First you need to decide what area you are looking to work in. Once you do that, finesse your resume, take a nice headshot, and get some folders together. Start visiting dental office that you are interested in being at, and ask to speak with the dentist. Most dentists are willing to meet with dental students. Look professional; treat this like you would an interview. Express to the dentist that you are in your final year of dental school, and you are interested in LEARNING from them. If you come in straight saying that you need a job, chances are most dentists won?t respond. If they are looking to hire, that means they need someone ASAP. Even if you just graduated, you won?t get your license for about 8 weeks or so. And most dentists want someone with experience. So instead of saying you want to work for them, ask them to shadow. Say you want to learn from them. Once you build a connection, when you actually do graduate and you get your license, you will have a better chance of being hired. Keep in mind that even if they aren?t looking for an associate, they may know someone that is.
Don?t put all of your eggs in one basket. Don?t only do this with one dentist, do it with several dentists. Get to know the community. After all, you?re a new graduate, and even if you?re bold enough to start your own practice right off the bat (which I don?t suggest unless you are willing to learn everything the hard way and spend a lot of money doing it), you will have questions and it?s important to have someone you can reach out to for help. I?ve been out and in the ?real? world for years now. I?ve done a lot of cases, I know a lot of stuff, but once in a while, I come across something that I don?t know how to deal with or what to do. I?ve made those connections where I can reach out and get some answers!
If you can?t find someone to learn from, then I recommend taking your resume, headshot, and the little folder you created and dropping them off at as many dental offices as you can. You never know what you will get a phone call to work somewhere. You can also find jobs on indeed and craigslist. Make sure you do a working interview. You want to make sure you like the office, the staff, and that everything meshes well for you.
One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to try to find a mentor. Find someone who is very seasoned in the field and learn from them. Finding a mentor is so important because you can learn so much from them. The good, the bad, the ugly. You learn what to do, what not to do, and why. Let?s be real, dental school taught you a lot. But, you didn?t learn how to survive in the real world, and you didn?t learn anything about business! Learning these from someone who has already figured it out gives you a head start in your career. Additionally, a mentor can see where you need improvement when you don?t even see it. They will always be brutally honest with you and tell you exactly how it is rather than downplay any weaknesses they see in you. This is going to help you grow.
As important it is to find a mentor, you should also learn from as many people as you can. Everyone has a different way of doing things, and you will pick up what you like/don?t like when you work with/for more people. When I graduated dental school I worked in 3-4 different offices at a time. Sometimes I would leave one job and pick up another, but I always made sure to be working in several different places. After about 7 months, I narrowed it down to 2 offices that I loved, and after about a year and half I had my own to work on. Those first 7 months working in different offices taught me so much about the quality of dentistry that was important to me, the business side of dentistry, and it also taught me so much about myself. As much as I disliked being in some of those offices, it really helped shape my career for the future, and I recommend every new graduate to go through that phase!
Congrats again on your graduation. ?Let’s stay connected so make sure you subscribe below!