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My Medical Device Sales Career

What Would It Take to get a Medical Sales Job Right out of College?

Dear Linda,

I am a sophomore in college and I've recently been looking into a career in medical sales instead of going to medical school after undergrad. I would like your opinion on what exactly it would take to get hired into a medical sales job right out of college. Right now I am preparing for medical school with a major in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. Although I don’t doubt that I could persevere med school, I think I would thoroughly enjoy the challenge of a sales career as well as the relationship skills that I know are a big part of any sales. Would it be beneficial for me to minor in Marketing instead of Chemistry, or will the prerequisites for med school help to set me apart from other more experienced sales candidates?

                                                                                                                Thanks, Jordan G

REPLY

Hello Jordan, first of all, congratulations to you as a young sophomore in college looking ahead  to not only the college degree (undergrad and possible grad school) that you want to acquire, but also the "type" of job a given degree would prepare you for in the world. In addition, you are reflecting on your personality and the suitability of that occupation for your best career match; in this case, medical sales representative vs. physician.

I must first address your question on whether a particular degree would set you apart from an experienced sales candidate. The answer is no; nothing replaces experience in life, not even a particular college program. So let's discuss the best way for you to get some "exposure" to a medical sales occupation while you attend college and select a degree that will give you greater options as you make some important decisions about your life occupation!

I often suggest the best way for a college student to  learn about a job is to thrust themselves into the work environment of interest. In other words, placing yourself in a position where you can at least observe those who are doing the job or career of interest. Summer internships are an excellent avenue to give one this type of observational perch.  Some colleges offer summer internships related to the college degree or department for students who have declared a major, and most offer this after sophomore credits have been earned.

Unfortunately I do not know of a college that offers internship programs for medical sales. That said, I know several college students who have called a medical company and reached out to their Human Resource Department (or LinkedIn contact) to see if they would allow them to intern for inside sales or to work somewhere within their headquarters.

These students don't wait for an internship to be posted, they go out and rustle one up! This is an action that speaks volumes to headhunters and medical firms and is the spirit of a great future medical sales representative!  

I highly suggest you reach out to some key medical companies to see if you can get a job this summer. It would give you an insider's look at the company and experience in their company culture. Once in, if you are doing well, they will often let you do a ride-along with their local sales person or at least give you the ability to meet with them to see what it is truly like to be in the medical sales industry.

Often, if the company has identified you as hire-able talent, they will even let you attend a regional or national sales meeting, a sales training class, or even a trade show. Now you have placed yourself upon reaching college graduation as someone with additional education and experience as a new college graduate.

I have actually even witnessed, many times, a medical company creating an associate sales role for these types of graduates, if not minimally giving them an inside sales position with the intent to place the person in the field within two years of successful employment.

Now about your college major selection.

We often do get those people who wanted to become doctors and then decide they want to be a sales representative instead. There is a BIG difference between those two occupations! I would suggest getting an undergraduate degree that would line you up for EITHER occupation as you enter your sophomore year or, in your case, junior year.

If you are in a University that offers a pre-med program, then enroll in that and move forward. Most medical schools, from my understanding and this is not my expertise, appear to favor degrees in the biological sciences. We are not as picky when we interview candidates for medical sales, we want them to have a four year college degree (any degree). Yes, it would be great if they have a business degree or a biological science degree, but simply put, most of us don't care.

So why not pick a degree that will fulfill the medical school option and also give you the option to move into medical sales?  One degree, two options. Attaining a marketing degree or business degree would limit your options between the two occupations. Whatever your path, Jordan you are doing the right homework now as you contemplate the best strategy to obtain an occupation that would not only be fulfilling for you, but one you could build upon for the rest of your life.

Best of luck to you as you go forward with your career and college degree planning. This is an exciting time of your life and you have your whole life ahead of you. Our early life choices are important to creating a fulfilling and satisfying life. Once again, all the best to you as you begin this journey. You are asking the right questions.

©Linda Hertz, All Rights Reserved  

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Tags: break into medical device sales, college students

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