An undergraduate biomedical engineering degree at VCU can be a stepping stone to a variety of different careers: from various types of professional schools (medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, physical therapy, occupational therapy, law, etc.), careers directly entering into biomedical or related industries, and/or graduate schools. Students should be aware that depending on their career direction, it may be relevant to choose different types of elective courses, internships and extracurricular activities in order to facilitate their career opportunities. This is also true for different track specializations (e.g., pre-professional, biomechanics and biomaterials, rehabilitation and human factors and instrumentation and electronics). Students do have some flexibility to initially explore different options but should become more focused by Junior year.
The best career advice may depend on the direction in which you wish your career to go.
For professional schools, your best career advice in terms of how to maximize your opportunities to get into the profession of interest is to consult with the pre-professional advisors at VCU.
For entering biomedical or related industries, your best career advice will come from Engineering Career Services, Biomedical Engineering faculty and Biomedical Engineering alumni. Please be aware that many biomedical engineering companies are on the smallish size. This means that your approach to finding internships and jobs will be different from your peers in other Engineering Departments. Due to their size, biomedical engineering companies are less likely to come to Career Fairs. Networking through the use of Engineering Career Services, BME faculty and BME alumni becomes much more important. You will also have a yearly opportunity to network with the BME advisory board. It is never too early to start networking. It is also a good way to find out more details about careers you may be interested in. It is strongly recommended that you take ENGR 395, the Professional Development Course offered by career services, in your freshman or sophomore year.
For those interested in entering graduate school much of where to seek advice is similar to those wanting to enter directly into the work force. Both industry internships and research lab internships are great experiences in preparation for graduate schools. The BME department, particularly if you work in a faculty’s research lab, provides opportunities for you to attend research conferences to learn about different areas of research in the field, as well as present papers and network with faculty from other universities. Be aware that often other universities offer undergraduate research experiences during the summer for students outside their university. This is a good opportunity to meet more faculty in your potential areas of interest.
For those unsure of the direction they wish to go, you should seek out information about the different directions as early in your academic career as possible. Also, if there are potential road blocks to achieving your career goals (e.g., GPA requirements), you should be thinking of how best to prepare yourself for alternate career choices as well.