Over my spring break, I was able to visit the FDA. It was great to meet students from the Baltimore campus School of Pharmacy as well as the pharmacists that presented at our visit. They talked to us about their time in school, their first job after graduating, and their path to the FDA.
I was lucky enough to get this visit by regularly checking my email. Among all the junk you will delete every day are opportunities to sign up for events. Other emails will have listings for internships you can apply to. The trick is to take time out of your busy day to respond to these emails. That’s how I won a Montgomery County DHHS interprofessional internship last summer. That’s how I secured a spot on the FDA tour Google doc, which only had fifteen openings for a body of over 600 students.
While others went to New Orleans or New York for spring break, I made important connections and was given email addresses and phone numbers by people who are employed where I want to work someday.
I recently met a woman at Starbucks while I was seasoning my coffee at the sugar bar. She was browsing a PowerPoint slide deck on her laptop. Me being nosy, I said hi. The words “Mechanism of Action” jumped out of the screen, and I asked her what class she was studying for. It turns out that she’s the Senior Director of Medical Science Liaisons at a dialysis company in the area, and she manages pharmacists as part of her duties.
The best piece of advice she gave me as we talked was that it doesn’t matter how many leadership positions and other bullet points you have on your resume. At the end of the day, it’s who you know. It turns out that the pharmacy world is pretty small, and when she looks at a resume, she will try and ask others in the pharmacy world if they know you. That means you need to get out there and meet as many people as you can. Get involved. And make good impressions on people, not bad, because it’ll come back around when you’re looking for a job.
So when you see these emails and these opportunities, take action. Your grades mean less than networking.
Enjoy the warm weather, stock up on Claritin (if you’re like me), and I’ll see you around campus.