Employment History Vs. Non-Academic Activities

The other day we were perusing PreMed101 and found this conversation. The poster essentially asked forum members if it would make sense to split up his/her work experience into the projects or activities that were required for his/her job and put them in either/both the Non-Academic Activities or Employment History section. As evaluators of non-academic experiences, we humbly request that you do not do this. As stated in the Help Guide, we look through both the Non-Academic Activities section and the Employment History section of the application for the same traits and qualities considered important in generating a non-academic score. When evaluating different experiences it is important for us to understand the context in which you were doing them and the time frame in which you completed them. This also gives the Admissions Selection Committee a better understanding of your background when they are selecting the class post interview.

Remember, we do not know you personally. When you divide one of your experiences into several parts, labeling each a different title, with different hours, and then list them in both the Employment History and Non-Academic Activities sections, you make it seem like you were hired to do independent jobs over a series of months or years, and that you volunteered for the same company for as many hours as you were working, doing similar (but different) tasks, during the same time frame. This is extremely challenging (and confusing) to adjudicate, and often candidates who do this are sent a number of emails from our office clarifying what they actually meant- that they worked for one company, in the same job, for a specific period of time. It’s okay to have only one entry, even if it was a significant life experience. We understand that jobs are multifaceted. In the 350 character box we expect you to provide a specific description of your main duties in your role (use the Non-Academic Activities preamble in the Help Guide to direct you). Unfortunately, you will not be able to fit a description of every project you worked on or person you interacted with. This is fine. We do not need this information to accurately assess your application. The only time you should divide your activity is if you had different roles with the same employer over different time frames (eg. started as a sales associate then became store manager). Or, you did actually volunteer with the organization you also worked for (eg. volunteered as a youth leader for an organization on weekends and worked as their office administrator during the week).

It is not necessary to fill up your Non-Academic Activities/Employment History sections to receive a good non-academic evaluation. It is better to write your application in a clear and concise way. Think of each line like a line on a CV. Each line should be unique, and it should be placed in the category where it seems like the best fit. As stated in the Help Guide, we do not deduct points for things being “out of place.” But it does make our job easier when you follow the instructions as outlined in the Help Guide. If you have any pointers about how we might improve the Help Guide in the future, please let us know. We’re always happy to hear from you. You can comment here or send an email. Thanks!

12 responses to “Employment History Vs. Non-Academic Activities”

  1. Hong

    Dear Admissions Office,

    Thank you for this clarification!

    I just had a quick question regarding a specific case of employment. The employment experience consists of two separate responsibilities where one is performed during regular work hours (9-5), which is what the stipend is based on, whereas the other one is performed earlier (6:30-9), so there is little to no overlap between the two responsibilities, but the responsibilities are for the same institution and for the same employer. Should these still be included together in one entry or they can be separated into two entries?


    1. Admissions

      You know the most about your positions so it’s really your decision, but this might help:

      Are you paid for the 6:30 – 9:00 work or is it more of a volunteer position? If you are not paid for it, you would make the 6:30 – 9:00 position a separate entry and put it in the Non-Academic Activities section. It would be helpful to add a short note in the “Clarifications” text box to explain the relationship between your two positions.

      If you are paid for the 6:30 – 9:00 work but you work in a different role/job title than your regular 9:00 – 5:00 job, you could separate the two entries (again, a note in the “Clarifications” box would be helpful). However, if your before-9:00 and after-9:00 work are just different responsibilities within the same job, you should keep them as one entry. Hope this helps!

  2. Andrew


    Thank you very much for these posts; they are very helpful!
    I have two questions, the first of which is somewhat similar to Hong’s above:

    1. I had a summer research experience that paid for 35 hours a week, but I worked 70 hours a week of which the extra 35 hours was unpaid. While this unpaid time mostly consisted of side analysis and experiments, the line between the two is relatively blurry in terms of the work being done – is it expected that the unpaid hours be entered in the Non-Academic Activities section, or should I simply make a note under the “Clarifications” box?

    2. Related to the previous question, if two distinct positions are under the same institution and the same supervisor, is it acceptable to use that supervisor as a verifier for both positions? I understand that the use of a verifier for more than one activity is discouraged, but it seems that this would be the most appropriate thing to do in this circumstance.

    Thank you again for all of the clarifications!

    1. Admissions

      Glad you find the posts useful!

      1. It sounds like there is less delineation between your paid and unpaid work than in the comment above. In this case, it is probably best to just make a note in the “Clarifications” box.

      2. We do discourage applicants from using the same verifier for multiple activities, but using your supervisor for two positions is acceptable.

  3. Anonymous

    Is the NAQ score a combination of both volunteering and employment activities? For instance, will an applicant be penalized if they have better work experiences than volunteer experiences?

    1. Admissions

      The NAQ score is a holistic score that is based on all of the non-academic sections of the application. We look for evidence of the same characteristics in your employment history that we look for in your non-academic activities, and we understand that the bulk of some applicants’ experiences may be in one or the other.

  4. Andy

    Hi there,

    Thank you for this post. It really helps with writing my application. I had a question regarding holding different volunteer positions during different time frames. Should they be divided into two entries. The post specified a similar employment situation and I wanted to clarify that the same applies for non-paid experiences.


    1. Admissions

      Glad the post has helped you! If you did different volunteer positions during different time frames, they should be entered separately.

  5. Jordan

    Hi Admissions,

    Would it be appropriate to list multiple, distinct non-academic experiences even if they fall under the larger umbrella of a single one?

    For example, should these all be listed as separate experiences:
    • Playing a sport for 8 years (Diversity of experiences)
    • Serving as a team captain for one of those years (Leadership)
    • Playing a couple of those years at an elite level (Diversity of experiences)
    • Playing in an international tournament one season (Diversity of experiences)

    1. Admissions

      There seems to be some overlap between several of these, as presumably the international tournament and elite-level play would be included in playing the sport for 8 years. However, you know your activity the best. Please try to enter your activity in a way that 1) accurately represents what you were doing and when, and 2) can be easily understood by someone reading the entry for the first time.

  6. Rebeca Bulmer

    Hi, I am wondering if professional associations and ongoing certification, such as ACLS would be included in the non-academic section.

    Thanks very much.

    1. Admissions

      Yes, you may include professional association memberships and certifications in the non-academic section.