How to: Network at an ASDA Conference

Sometimes even the thought of “Networking” can be exhausting, but in the real-world and even in professional school it’s a necessary skill to practice. Read about Alyssa Franklin’s first ASDA networking experience at the most recent District 4 ASDA conference. After reading, the word networking might sound a little less intimidating.

As an ASDA trip newbie, how would I network with dental students from other schools when I hardly knew anything about the student dental organization? Knowing I would have to jump out of my comfort zone, I sat myself down next to a stranger on Day 1 of the District 4 meeting. We quickly introduced ourselves and our friends, and I was excited to spend 8 hours with another D2, from ECU. Since ECU’s ASDA chapter is in the early stages of development, my new friend had several questions about our school and ASDA chapter that I felt confident answering. I also learned some interesting tidbits about ECU, including the fact that all their classes are pass/fail. I love the idea of a non-GPA based education, but maybe that’s just me…

Later during the meeting, Henry Schein reps sponsored a happy hour for the students, and I felt privileged to meet and talk with Dr. Shiven Ghandi, a 2nd year resident in a combined GPR/AEGD program in Georgia. We discussed the pros and cons of practicing dentistry in community health centers, as this currently appeals to me for a first job. His words of advice – “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” We’ve all heard this before, but I never thought it would apply to public health dentistry after all the hype we hear at lunch and learns. Definitely some good food for thought. And speaking of food, Dr. Ghandi joined me and some other students for dinner that night, and he managed to secretly pay for all six of us there! When we couldn’t stop thanking him, he simply told us to pay it forward someday; he enjoyed giving us dental tips and saw great potential in us as future dentists. This ASDA meeting was made possible over the years through networking, and I feel proud to maintain the tradition!

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