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Sarika Chandra, '21DDS: Taking Business Certificate Courses “Worked Well with My Dental School Schedule”

In between her busy, hands-on classes as a student in the Columbia College of Dental Medicine, Sarika Chandra is fitting in elective courses that diversify her academic experience and better prepare her for the rapidly-changing business of dentistry. She’s taken two Business Certificate courses, Introduction to Marketing and Introduction to Finance to round out her skills as she prepares for her next steps after graduation this spring. She recently reflected on the convenience and benefits of opting for business-related courses as a dental student — and how the electives unexpectedly helped to keep her grounded at the onset of the pandemic last Spring. 

How have your Business Certificate courses benefited you as a dental school student?

I took Introduction to Marketing with Professor Hirschhorn and Jenny Fernandez. I gained the fundamentals of marketing and had a lot of fun in the process. I found the course in Columbia’s Directory of Classes. 

In addition to Introduction to Marketing, I took Introduction to Finance in Fall 2019. I have no background in finance, so I found the course to be particularly enriching.

As a dental student and potential practice owner, it is very important for me to understand what marketing entails. This course gave me a practical glimpse of ways I can prepare to meet the ever-changing demands of the market. Dentists who desire to be future practice owners are essentially running a business. Therefore, having a strong business foundation is very important!

How did these courses fit into your schedule?

As a dental student, I have a full academic load every semester which requires me to be on the medical campus from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. So any classes that I want to take at the Morningside campus have to take place after 5:30 p.m. The timing of Introduction to Marketing — as well as the Elementary Spanish II class I was taking at Morningside — worked well with my dental school schedule. 

As an Advanced Standing dental student, I felt confident taking on additional credits, but the extra classes made even more sense when the pandemic interrupted the practical, in-person aspects of my dental medicine course. The Introduction to Marketing and Elementary Spanish learning experience was a blessing when parts of my core courses came to a standstill!

What do you plan to do in your career after you graduate? 

I intend to pursue a general practice residency at Woodhull Medical Center in Brooklyn. After that, I intend to become an associate and partner at a practice in New York or a practice owner.

Introduction to Finance and Introduction to Marketing are available during the academic year as well as Columbia Summer sessions. If you’re a student enrolled at a Columbia University school and you’re interested in expanding your knowledge in a specific subject area, trying out a new class, or getting ahead in your degree requirements, you may be able to register for Columbia Summer courses. Consult with your advisor for approvals and to ensure that you meet eligibility requirements. Visit