When it comes to optometry students and networking, success requires getting outside of your comfort zone, according to Cindy Shan.
In an interview with Dr. Matt Geller, Cindy – a second-year student at Waterloo Optometry – claims that pushing your own boundaries in this way allows you to learn more about yourself and to acquire skills you would not have had otherwise. Cindy believes that without such risk-taking she would not be able to achieve her own goals, including opening up a private practice of her own.
The example Cindy focuses upon to demonstrate this point is networking. “Especially for students, who are scared of the big doctors out there and don’t know where to start, networking can be quite scary.” Cindy believes that it’s important to “start small.”
The first step is simply to initiate a conversation. There are opportunities to make connections everywhere. “Just talk to the people at the coffee shop, or talk to the receptionist at the place where you’re getting your teeth cleaned.”
Once one has started a conversation, the next challenge is to maintain one, finding appropriate topics. “Sometimes it might be scary and you might not say the right thing at the right time, but realize what you did wrong the first time, and the next time you can do better.” Slowly, you will build connections that will in turn lead to new connections.
How is she able to maintain her composure?
She admits that practice in public speaking has helped her, but exhibiting authenticity and being true to one’s self are also important.
Her advice to other second-year students is as follows: “Identify where you are and where you want to go. Identify things you want to get into.
“What are the things you want to work on? Do you want to be better at investment? Do you want to be better at talking to people? Once you’ve identified those things, then you can move forward.” She also recommends picking up new hobbies, e.g. sports, art projects, and home repair.