Career Snapshots with Eli Joseph
Michael Schubert interviews Eli Joseph on networking, patient contact, and the value of failure and rejection
Partner and Medical Examiner
Quest Diagnostics, New York, New York, USA
Tell us a little about your career as a medical examiner.
When people hear the term “medical examiner,” they think I examine dead people – but I don’t. As a partner at Quest Diagnostics, I am the liaison between all the major insurance companies and the client who are applying for life, disability, or health insurance. And as a medical examiner, I am there to appraise the client’s medical issues and to get the samples and specimens the insurance companies need to issue the client a policy.
Can you explain your perspective on rejection?
When I think of rejection, I think of another opportunity to gain – not a loss. When I was applying for jobs, I applied everywhere, and I got internal referrals from current employees as well – but I still got rejected. And I was getting rejected not only from jobs, but also from Harvard, Yale, and New York University – and from volunteering organizations, too. I told myself, if I continuously push on, “fail forward,” and gain opportunities from the losses that I’ve incurred, I’ll be able to talk about it in the future and be comfortable sharing my story and helping others share theirs as well. This is the concept of the rejection résumé.
What is a rejection résumé?
A rejection résumé is basically a document that highlights your lowlights. When we think of a résumé, we think of our highlights – the accomplishments and accolades that we have accumulated in our careers. The rejection résumé is the opposite. It talks about the obstacles you have endured to reach the point you’re at right now.
Traditionally, we use our résumé to get a job. We can also use our rejection résumé to get opportunities for the future. That’s why, when I look at rejection, I see another way to obtain the opportunities we need to move forward with our careers and our endeavors.
Why don’t more people see rejection the way you do?
They don’t want to talk about it! Most people don’t want to talk about their rejections. Who wants to talk about how they failed on their way to success? We are taught to say, “You know what? Just don’t worry about the negatives. Don’t worry about the past. Don’t worry about what happened to us that negatively affected us in the past. Just keep being positive. Keep moving forward. We always have our time.”
I believe in taking a step back, reflecting on our failures, and taking one or two lessons from those rejections – and then moving forward from there. There’s nothing about rejection that is perfect, but it’s a perfect fit for your story. Always think about moving forward through the rejection process and through failure; it’s the best way to craft your story.
What’s the most interesting part of your work?
New York City is very rich and it’s always moving. I have the chance to meet a ton of people – millionaires, authors, scientists, astronauts, doctors… I see a variety of houses, apartments, condos, because I’m actually in my clients’ homes. It’s convenient for them because the lab comes to them, and it’s comforting, as well. People are often sensitive to specimens like urine, blood, or saliva, but I look forward to collecting those specimens and having conversations with clients. I have so many opportunities to network with people whom I may never otherwise have met. Last week, I networked with another author who was applying for life insurance!
I love the opportunity to talk to people, see new things, travel around the city, and learn about the cultures within the city. That’s why I enjoy being a medical examiner and a liaison between clients and insurance companies. Clients often say, “I wish my personal doctor could come out here, rather than my going to the office and waiting for so long.” I joke that, in my capacity, the people I meet are called “clients” but, in a medical capacity, they’re called “patients” because they have to wait! In this case, they don’t have to wait and they have direct contact with me regarding when I’m on my way, when their specimens are heading to the lab, and how to obtain their results. It’s a more intimate setting in which I have opportunities to interact and network.
What one key thing would you like to share about what you do?
I would like medical professionals to understand that there is more than one way to obtain a perfect lifestyle. You don’t have to be in a clinical setting; you don’t have to be in a lab; you can travel if you want to (and the pay is pretty much the same). You just have to be comfortable in various environments – whether in a mansion or in a small home with a bunch of kids running around and pets all over the place. You have to be open to meeting a variety of people in their own environments. Being open-minded, having a welcoming spirit, and talking to people to understand how they feel every day goes a long way when you are trying to connect with a client – and when you’re looking for future opportunities as well.