Molecular life sciences and neuroscience double major. Economics minor. Co-president of the Intra Collegiate Emergency Medical Service at IU, also known as IC-EMS. Ambassador for the College of Arts and Sciences. Adhitya Balaji (’23) is all of these things, and he approaches his studies with the drive that a future medical student needs in order to be successful. He has mixed and matched his university experiences to give himself opportunities and options that don’t exist at other universities and liberal arts and sciences programs.
Student spotlight: Adhitya Balaji
You don’t get more STEM-heavy than a double major in molecular life sciences and neuroscience, so it might be surprising to some that Adhitya manages a minor in economics as well. Aside from the departure from the medical sciences, why would someone so clearly preparing for a future in the medical field study this?
“I’m in STEM classes every day,” he said. “I wanted to do something different, and economics let me study a field about how people act and interact with each other. I study it because I like it and it’s really cool, but I’m sure the perspective I’ve gained from it will help me as I pursue medicine in the future.”
Adhitya has also been hard at work as co-president of IC-EMS, a non-transport, basic life support service that is on call at IU and some community events. “Having an economics minor,” he said, “along with my science background has been really helpful.” His experience as co-president has allowed him to work with patients and given him background in running a small healthcare organization, including writing contracts, hiring and acquiring insurance coverage, and creating medical protocols with the organization’s medical director.
Adhitya has a passion for sustainable quality assurance programs and pursuing EMS-related research. To gain even more background in EMS and other emergency medical support fields, Adhitya works as an EMT for IU Health LifeLine in Lawrence County and with the Lawrence County Fire Territory, and volunteers as a non-firefighter EMT with the Monroe Fire Protection District. He is part of the American Heart Association Training Faculty at IU Health Bloomington and IU Health Bedford, a teaching assistant for an EMT course, and recently joined the Journal of Collegiate EMS as director of Midwest relations.
Taking a chance, Adhitya also applied to join IU Health’s new diversity, equity, and inclusion council. Not expecting anything, he was contacted by the chief of staff for the IU Health South Central Region’s president and accepted as a council member. He was the youngest on the council and the only college student on the committee.
He had to work hard to get his first EMT job and all subsequent roles, and Adhitya went to the College’s Walter Center for Career Achievement to figure out how to take the first step.
Coaching + Getting the interview
Before he became an EMT, Adhitya was applying for a patient care assistant position at IU Health. This role would allow him to gain more experience in patient care before medical school and certainly provide a stepping stone to other healthcare career opportunities. The only problem was getting his application noticed.
Adhitya was part of the Integrated Freshman Learning Experience (IFLE) and Science, Technology, and Research Scholars (STARS) programs when he came to IU as a freshman and often took advantage of the Walter Center and the services it offered. When he was applying for this initial position, he visited a Walter Center career coach to figure out how to get an interview.
“It was the day before a career fair. I asked, ‘What can I do to get them to listen to me, to read my application,’ because I knew if I got the interview I’d do well. It was just getting to that point.”
So his career coach sat down with him and looked at different LinkedIn recruiters, how to leverage his personal story and experience, and what this job would help him accomplish in his career goals. He felt prepared and the next day he went to the career fair to give it another go.
Finding their fair booth and talking to a real person made all the difference for Adhitya. “I told them I’d applied to IU Health multiple times, that I hadn’t had an interview yet but it would just be great if I could get an interview, just like I talked about with the Walter Center coach.”
This worked for Adhitya – the representative from IU Health asked him to send his resume to them personally and, before he knew it, had received a phone call and had an interview.
Relying on a career coach to prepare him, help him do more research, and navigate entry into a competitive career area allowed Adhitya to bring his A game to the career fair, and let him further into the healthcare field.
“Career coaches, to me,” said Adhitya, “feel almost essential to undergrads, especially now. I view my career coach as my academic advisor but for my future. With the way the job market is now, and the new jobs that didn’t exist before, it’s hard to navigate that without having an insider to help you.”