Whether it’s the first time you’ve attended or you’ve experienced that four-day long whirlwind in the past, the reality is this: ACEP is a multi-day scientific assembly like no other. There are a lot of informative classes to attend, great people to meet, top-notch dinners to enjoy—and drinks every night. And this year, ACEP takes place in Boston—one of the country’s oldest cities—which has some of the best eats and architecture! Still, as recent grads and residents, you should also consider ACEP a four-day interview for your next job. It’s a networking opportunity that you should take seriously.
Here’s your five-step ACEP15 action plan:
Do your personal inventory.
If you’re looking for your first job or even a new job, think about what you’re looking for in an employer—and be really specific about what you need at this stage in your life and in your career. Are you financially strapped because of loans? Do you need to take a job just for the money? If you do, just know that going in. And be willing to put in your time for those years as you start to pay off your loans. Are you looking for a great cultural fit? Do you want to work somewhere you can talk about your kids’ soccer games? Do you want to spend your work hours in an environment where work-life balance is important? If you’re looking for a great cultural fit in your workplace, take the time to do a personal inventory. This is how you’ll figure out what matters to you in your work environment. Do you want to work somewhere you can make friends easily? Do you want to have a mentor-mentee relationship with a more senior clinician? Do you prefer a more traditional work environment where office chat is more formal? The point is that before you even get on the plane or train or in the car, you need to figure out who you are and what you’re looking for in your next employer.
Work on your elevator pitch.
Taking the time to do your personal inventory should help with this. Seriously, what stage are you in your life, in your career? What contributions would you like to make to your field, to your patients? This is the time—again before you’ve left home—when you should take the time to work on your “two-minute commercial.” This is your personal pitch. It could be that you’re passionate about taking care of patients in an urban ED setting and you’re obsessed with playing doubles tennis. Or, that you did a life-changing internship in rural India in undergrad, and that experience helped guide you on your current emergency medicine career path. What you don’t want is to be the fifteenth “Mike” or “Michelle” the recruiter or your future medical director meets at ACEP. That will get you lost in the shuffle.
Get down to basics.
Arrive in Boston. Dress appropriately—and, for goodness sake, wear comfortable shoes. There will be a nice restaurant to go to each night at ACEP and bars a plenty in Boston. My advice? Pace yourself. Be on your game. Go for a run if it helps you recharge your batteries. Don’t drink too much. Truth: ACEP can be a multi-day job interview.
Get a sense of the employers there.
Get out and meet people. Linger at meals and talk to the people around you. Go out for a social drink in the evening. Mingle. Ask questions based on your personal inventory findings (see above). Are the people in the employer booths “your kind of people?” Are their booths fun? Do you like the people you meet at the dinners around the city? [And, to be completely biased here—and unabashedly self-promotional: I hope you’ll come hang out at Happy Hour at Harpoon Brewery on Monday, October 26, at 7:30 pm for an evening with our leadership and brewery tours. And, ladies. please join us at our Women’s Tea. It’s from 3 to 5 pm on Tuesday, October 27, at the toney yet fun Hampshire House.
Do your follow up after ACEP.
Once you get home, take time to gather your thoughts—of course! And get some rest. Then get right on sending emails or handwritten follow-up notes to the people you met. Connect with them again and remind them about you—and what makes you stand out I remember when I started my first job, our CEO took me out for a meal; he sent me a handwritten note a few days later. That experience really left an impression on me. That handwritten note showed me that he valued the time we spent together—and that he valued me as a member of the team, as a person. Safe travels to Boston!