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Postbacs/Summer Students

Making a decision: grad school, med school, or a job?

Exploring graduate and Professional school

Exploring job options

Finding a job


Making a decision: grad school, med school, or a job?

Career counselors in the OITE are happy to assist you with exploring possible careers and the educational paths that would lead to them. They will also assist you with getting to know yourself better, the first step to making sound career decisions.

Sign up for an appointment with a career counselor.


Take a closer look at yourself!

  • The Strong Interest Inventory® provides research-validated insights to help you in your search for a rich, fulfilling career. The Strong empowers users to discover their true interests so they can better identify, understand, and often expand their career options. To complete this assessment, make an appointment with an OITE career counselor.
  • The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) analyzes personality type. If you are interested in completing the MBTI, register for Workplace Dynamics I/II, an OITE workshop that explores differences in personality type and the ways in which we communicate and their impact on all aspects of our lives. The OITE will provide a link to complete the MBTI online about two weeks prior to the workshop. 

NOTE: These assessments are available to postbacs (and other trainees who are at the NIH year-round) only.  If you are a summer intern, OITE career counselors are happy to meet with you, but you should contact your university/school career center to find out about assessments they offer.

  • Exercises External Link to help you explore your values, skills, and interests

Exploring graduate and Professional school

Graduate/professional school advising appointments


Begin by reviewing the list of OITE staff members and their advising expertise. Note that individuals may focus on graduate, rather than professional (medical, dental, pharmacy, veterinary, nursing, etc.), school or may be generalists. 

IMPORTANT  NOTE: If you schedule an appointment, be certain to prepare in advance. Attend any workshops devoted to the topic you wish to discuss or watch the corresponding OITE videocast. If you wish to discuss a resume, CV, cover letter, or personal statement, write and edit it carefully prior to the appointment. You should also check out our online resources on resumes and CVs and cover letters. If you have scheduled a mock interview, practice examples of possible responses to questions in advance.


Graduate and Professional School Advising

Limitations on Advising for Applicants to Graduate and Professional School: 

The OITE is committed to assisting postbacs and summer interns with the application process for graduate and professional school. Counselors and other OITE staff members can help you be a competitive applicant by assisting with application strategies, writing personal statements, and practicing mock-interviews. However, given the large number of trainees interested in this service we want to clarify the extent and nature of the services we can provide.

  • Most applicants schedule a maximum of two advising appointments during the application process. Usually the first appointment strategizes applying and the second reviews a personal statement.
  • Personal statement reviews critique the structure and organization of the (almost final) essay and whether the message intended by the applicant is being effectively communicated. The service does not include correction of grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. 
  • Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to review a personal statement multiple times. Therefore, please do not ask multiple staff members to review your statement.
  • We will be happy to discuss strategies for composing answers to diversity questions or questions relating to being a disadvantaged applicant.
  • We do not review "secondaries" for medical school applicants.
  • We find that group mock interviews are an efficient and effective way to prepare for interviews. Only in unusual circumstances would we expect applicants to seek more than one mock interview.

You may want to consider these approaches to making the best use of OITE resources:

  • Create a timeline that includes application deadlines (See our timeline for medical school applications.) Include OITE workshops you will want to attend prior to beginning the application process. Workshops are listed on the Upcoming Events page. If you are unable to attend a workshop in person, you will generally be able to find a recording (video- or pod-cast) of an earlier workshop on the same topic. Check out our list of OITE videocasts, noting that workshops on getting to graduate and/or professional school are near the bottom of the page.
  • Check out our additional resources for pre-meds.
  • Especially if you will be at the OITE for two years, use your first year to meet with OITE advisors to discuss issues such as whether an MD/PhD is appropriate for you or which medical or graduate schools you should consider.
  • Attend the Graduate & Professional School fair in July to chat with representatives of institutions that might interest you and attend workshops on the various application processes.
  • Always come to appointments prepared to make good use of the time.
  • Seek support, if appropriate, from the pre-med committee at your undergraduate institution.

Understanding standardized tests

Preparing your statement of purpose External Link

Interviewing for professional school: Slides from OITE presentation; View videocast

Financial aid opportunities



Getting materials ready

Job search strategies

Interviewing skills

professional development resources from the OITE

Writing professional e-mail