Have you ever looked back over a certain point of time in your life and wished you’d done things differently?
Looking back at my college years, I’ve made out quite nicely. Yet, there are still things I wish I had done differently. I want to share those things today.
The essence of this article is straight to the point: I wouldn’t have focused on studying, working multiple jobs, and making all As (which I never achieved). I would have focused on building relevant pharmacy work experience.
Considering how saturated the market is, it’s never too early to get a head start. Use this advice to secure and develop your pharmacy career now.
1. Don’t Focus on Studying.
This sounds very counterintuitive, but it’s true. When I practiced pharmacy, I looked up everything I forgot I'd learned at one point in time. It happens to everyone, and it’s not a big deal.
Academic institution models focus more on ideas and the ability to regurgitate them in an exam-focused way than they have job preparedness. Students are now more focused on their grades than their careers – and this is a dangerous perspective to have.
The truth about grades is this: other than residency and your first job, managers don’t care. Hiring managers care about what results you can bring to the job.
Ladies and gentlemen, no one remembers every pharmacokinetic formula in the real world.
Study and get the best grades you can, but don't become obsessed with having perfect grades. A-student pharmacists are struggling to find work just as much as B- and C-student pharmacists.
2. Don’t Work Two Jobs, Just Because.
Working two jobs during school helps you pocket more money, stay busy, and look more appealing, but in my experience, neither was productive or enjoyable.
I didn’t learn very much from my two positions, and my lack of relevant work experience showed when I worked community pharmacy. My boss treated me more like a teenage clerk than an intern. I rarely was allowed “on the line” because nearly everyone else had the training and experience I lacked. I often found myself being a clerk as a P2 student.
My time in school would have been better spent understanding my strengths. Then I would be able to use this information to design a career doing something I was good at, like teaching. Today, I use my strengths to help pharmacists discover what they’re naturally good at and create profitable careers.
3. Seek Powerful Mentors Who Can Help You.
Mentors can help you quickly identify what you're good at, so you can promptly practice during college and eventually in the marketplace.
My mentor was more faith-based than a pharmacy mentor. He was kind, and I needed him in my life at the time, but he and I didn’t dig into pharmacy, find my niche, and excel.
Start with your network. Make connections to people in your field, actively shadow them, and ask for ways to help improve their jobs in exchange for knowledge. Buy them coffee and ask questions.
By talking to people and making connections in my field, you’ll be able to determine how to “get started right now.”
4. Seek Real-World Pharmacy Experience.
Starting your career is the most important thing you can do right now.
My biggest gripe with pharmacy schools is that it teaches students to prioritize getting an A – and it’s reflected in how little students know about the job market.
Do you have any idea how hard it is right now for anyone to find jobs, let alone new jobs? The average job attracts 250 applicants, and again, that’s average. In the pharmacy job market, my estimation is at least 100 applications for one job.
There are too many candidates. The sheer number of applications gives you less than 1% of a chance of getting a job – and keep in mind that we’re not even discussing a coveted position. We're speaking of a basic or below-average one.
It would be extremely foolish to prioritize straight As over opportunities to build a long-term, valuable career. After all, what good is a 4.0 (or even 3.0) when you can’t find employment?
Put your focus on getting on-the-job experience. You need to feel the way a clinician feels. You need to experience the highs and lows of the workload, joy, and anxiety that exists on the floor.
This is the experience that gives you an idea of the real-world pressure of the work you’ll do – not secretary work.
Pharmacy School Won’t Tell You This
Many pharmacy graduates enter the real world with $160,000 of debt and no ideas on how to get a job. Leaving over ten thousand young adults displaced with hefty $800 monthly student loan payments doesn’t sit well with me.
Image Courtesy: NerdWallet.com
Everyone would agree that our education system is in dire need of change, yet little is being done to change it.
It pisses me off, to be honest.
I hate seeing people walk blindly into their demise – just like I had.
Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t let this happen to you.
The stakes are high, and your future depends on it. You can graduate today with your degree and severe student loan debt without a job or anyone to bail you out. Then what?
It’s a crime against yourself to not invest in your future, and extremely important that you take action now. The earlier you take proactive measures to manage your career, the higher your chances of creating your pharmacy dream job.
Control Your Pharmacy Career Before You Graduate
With so many changes in the pharmacy industry, it's easy to dread your career outlook. Between long hours, changes in employment, and career outlook, the pharmacy job crisis is here. If you’re burned out, hate your job, or worried about a lack of career options in pharmacy, download your copy of Indispensable. This book is your prescription to creating confidence in a career path full of exciting opportunities.
Alex is the Founder of The Happy PharmD. He loves anime, his family, and video games, but not in that order.