A recent episode of the Tim Ferriss Show featured Chris Sacca, possibly the most famous venture capitalist right now (he was recently featured on the cover of Forbes Magazine).
The question was what advice he would give to college students about to graduate:
“Be interesting… As I look around at who I’ve hired, who I like to work with, who I back; they’re interesting. They’re people you want to be around, you want to spend time with, you want to hear their answers, you want them to push you a little bit to try things you haven’t tried. You want them to teach you. And if I could give advice to someone who’s… not sure how they want to distinguish themselves, I think pursuing a course of life that embraces interestingness [is the answer].
By the way, I don’t think people are born interesting. I think it’s something that you can accrue:
- living abroad
- volunteering for a group like Charity Water and going into the field,
- taking an actual service job,
- going in and talking to the people around you and having meaningful conversations (including the homeless people)...
- getting involved in politics briefly…
I think those kinds of things make for much more compelling people.”
I would like to reiterate that what Chris recommended for college students generally are precisely the things that have made for some of our most interesting medical school applicants. In fact, you could go bullet point by bullet point, and his advice directly translates into a successful pre-med that we at Passport Admissions have worked with over the past cycle or two:
an applicant who volunteered in Ecuador for 6 weeks, helping build a community garden and volunteer in their medical clinic
an applicant who travelled to Haiti to install clean water pumps
an applicant who put himself through college by working as a waiter (and even spent a huge portion of his personal statement writing about how formative that experience was)
an applicant who went out among the homeless communities to help give information about where they can find social services and health care
an applicant who was the head of the pro-Israeli student organization on her campus
There are dozens of ways to be interesting, but what all of these applicants have in common is that they deliberately sought experiences that were interesting. So, what about you? What do you find interesting? Do it for the fun of it, and it might just help you get into medical school.