Monday, November 16, 2015

Interview Trail Travel Diaries | Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts (September 23-24, 2015)
I received my first interview offer from Harvard School of Dental Medicine at the beginning of September. Like any normal person, I saw the email and froze. Harvard? Me? You're joking! My first thought was "I'm sure they emailed the wrong Stephanie... They were probably looking for Stephanie Ling or something..." I was positive a consolation email would appear in my mailbox telling me they typed the wrong email address into the recipient box.

The consolation email never came. I guess they really wanted to invite me for an interview! Who would have thought? Naturally, my Asian parents were more excited about the interview offer than I was. My mom was pretty adamant - "It's Hahh-vardYou're not allowed to turn down Harvard if you get in!".

February 2015 | In the middle of the Boston Snowmaggedon
I took an early Tuesday morning flight to Boston via JetBlue. Let me just say this - JetBlue is my new FAVORITE airline. You can't beat their spacious seats and leg room, personal direcTV, free onboard WiFi, awesome snacks, and bottled water. Free onboard WiFi and 6 hours of Law & Order SVU made the cross-country flight a breeze.

The last time I set foot in Boston, I landed in the middle of an epic "Snowmageddon". Record snowfall was dumped on the city. Mountains of snow lined the city streets. The entire city of Boston was on shutdown. As I tried to get from airport to hotel, I realized that there was only one Uber driver serving the entire city. Despite all of this, I still came back.

This time, the weather in Boston didn't disappoint. There was a cool crisp breeze signaling the start of fall. It was a nice change from the 90 degree southern California "fall weather". And it wasn't the 50mph winds that you normally get in Chicago that makes 65 degrees feel quite frigid.

My first order of business in Boston - making a pit stop in Harvard Square to buy souvenirs for my family. My family specifically requested Harvard sweaters for my brother and my cousin. I guess the prevailing thought is that if they wear the sweater long enough, they might actually go to Harvard one day. A few applicants and I debated buying Harvard paraphernalia as souvenirs. We ultimately decided not to. It seemed just a little too presumptuous.

Cambridge, MA | touring Harvard Yard with the other ortho interviewees
If you've never been to Harvard School of Dental Medicine, you might be surprised to learn that it's not located on the undergrad campus in Cambridge. It's actually nestled in the Longwood Medical Area, a span of road that encompasses Harvard Medical School, Boston Children's Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. It was an honor walking by such prestigious and highly regarded institutions. To be amongst the most compassionate healthcare providers and the greatest minds in the country.

I won't discuss the actual interview process at Harvard or comment on the merits or shortcomings of the program. That's not really the point of this blog post. That's also not something I feel comfortable sharing in a public forum. But what I will say is this: orthodontics is a very competitive specialty. It's overwhelming and awe-inspiring to be in the presence of such accomplished individuals.

The wonderful thing about ortho interviews is that you tend to see a lot of the same people at your subsequent interviews. A handful of applicants at the Harvard interview ended up going to the same three interviews as me. As we traveled from one interview to the next on a red-eye cross-country flight, we formed a tight friendship from our shared experience and struggles. I'd have to say this was the highlight of my interview trail. 

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on your wonderful interview experience and this is really a good news and a proud moment for your family. Keep up the good work.