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Applying to the James Cancer Research Center

 Written by    January 2, 2018

As a freshman on the pre-med track, it can seem daunting trying to keep up with all of the pressures being thrown at you. Everyone will start telling you about the importance of volunteering, maintaining excellent grades, starting in a research lab, and so on and so forth. While I was planning on doing these things anyways, I was kind of shocked by the competitive nature of all of the major hospital volunteer programs offered at Ohio State. The two major programs are through the Wexner Medical Center and the James Cancer Research Center.

Many people first apply to the Wexner Medical Center because it is the one that they always hear about. I too first tried applying for a position there for this past fall semester and was disappointed that I did not receive a spot. In addition, I was a little upset that the application process seemed more up to chance and availability than anything else as there was no formal interview or resume used in the selection process. I was told, however, that if you fail to receive a spot after two application attempts, then you will be guaranteed a position on your third attempt. Thus, you could apply and not get in for both semesters of your freshman year and then get a guaranteed spot for your sophomore year. Regardless, I was a bit upset about the application process and decided to try applying for the James Cancer Research Center for this coming spring semester.

The application for the James was significantly harder–they asked first for a resume and a letter of recommendation and then if your qualifications met their standards, you were invited for a group interview session. Nearly eighty highly qualified applicants attended the group interviews. These were relatively formal, with business attire required. Once everyone arrived, everyone was placed in circles containing eight candidates and two interviewers. Each candidate was asked to answer five different questions in order for the interviewers to get to know us and be able to vouch for our potential usefulness at the hospital. Once the interviews concluded, we were asked to choose tentative positions that fit with our class schedule.

After almost three weeks of waiting, results came back last week and I am excited to say that I will be volunteering in the radiology unit next semester. While the James Cancer Research Center definitely requires more effort in the application process, I feel as though it is worth it. The careful selection process that they use makes it feel all the more worthwhile and gives me hope that my volunteering time next semester will be both rewarding and fulfilling for me and the people I am helping.


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