Volunteering/Shadowing/Advice for a newbie!

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.


New Member
Jul 17, 2020
Reaction score

Members don't see this ad.
Hi, guys!

Here's a quick version of my story-- I'm a rising fourth year from the Georgia Institute of Technology majoring in Industrial Engineering. Just got my first summer internship in eCommerce, and I've discovered I hate it. !! I hate engineering !!!

I've always wanted to be a doctor, but was not a fan of the long hours, constant stress, and residency aspect. Then this summer whilst discouraged by my internship, I built on my appreciation for dentistry-- a way for me to truly have an impact on people around me (I know, they say no matter what job you have, you can make an impact. I agree to disagree), a way for me to pursue a love of science that isn't research based, and a way for me to live a relatively normal life after dental school.

This all being said, I've decided to start my pre-dentistry career now. In the worst conditions ever.
- many schools don't accept online labs :( my school is literally closed from now til who knows when. Plus I'm a senior, though I have decided to push graduation back to get in pre-reqs.
- shadowing :( I have nooo idea when students will be allowed to shadow anyone until covid is blown straight out of the water. I literally have 0 hours of shadowing. Does anyone have any advice on how to prove to schools that I'm sure about this career despite not having physically shadowed someone?
- rec letters. I don't know how I'll get any genuine rec letters from dentists when I can't shadow them.
- volunteering. I know there are volunteering opportunities online, but would schools accept this?

I was really hoping to apply summer 2021!!! But now I'm scared that due to covid, I won't even be able to apply in Summer 2022. Feeling super discouraged atm.

Any advice on shadowin g as well as what I can do to fill up my resume with things that dental schools would like would be soooo appreciated.



Lifetime Donor
2+ Year Member
Apr 25, 2019
Reaction score
Former engineer here.

Regarding online labs, did these schools you look into explicitly not allow online labs for spring 2020 and summer 2020 semesters? Or are you referring to their pre-COVID19 policies which are likely still posted on their websites? Sometimes you may have to contact the school directly for the most up to date information if no COVID-specific policies are posted.

Dental assisting is a good way to gain exposure to dentistry. Having a great work environment helped me confirm my love for dentistry. I have not yet found any schools that will not accept assisting hours to meet shadowing hour requirements. Here in the northeast, I feel comfortable enough with the COVID situation to assist. Depending on where you are, assisting may not be something you are comfortable with so think about that. Besides shadowing and assisting, there isn't any other way to demonstrate a genuine commitment to dentistry. But if you are applying in Summer 2021, there is still plenty of time.

No one ever said volunteering must be in person. Just find opportunities with reputable organizations. Crisis hotlines could probably use help.

Any advice on shadowin g as well as what I can do to fill up my resume with things that dental schools would like would be soooo appreciated.

Your volunteering opportunities do NOT necessarily need to be related to dentistry or even healthcare. Find things you enjoy doing and stick with it for an extended period of time.
Last edited:


Full Member
2+ Year Member
Oct 1, 2017
Reaction score
You’re in Atlanta so look into volunteering at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic for the underserved. You get to assist many D4s from DCG. Great way to get exposure and network with students from DCG!


Cold call/email doctors, hopsitals, and clinics to find opportunities. I was blessed to shadow an ER doctor and he allowed me to order stool cultures to send to microbiology and order Comp full blood panels for diabetics and chronic kidney patients, under supervision of course. It was an experience.


But the same applies to dentistry.. contact clinics and only one yes suffice. Get active once you start shadowing