Non-traditional Pharmacy Work Experience and How I met the President of Allergan Medical

Have you been looking for a pharmacy related job to beef up your application for pharmacy school? The most common form of work experience that pre-pharmacy students pursue is as pharmacy technicians in a retail setting. Outside of the more common work experience in retail positions and at hospitals, you can obtain unique pharmacy work experience through an internship for the government or a pharmaceutical company.

As an example, the FDA Office of Policy and Planning Internship Program “give(s) students an opportunity to learn about federal programs, policies, and practices first-hand. By the end of the internship, each student will have the skills and knowledge necessary to allow him or her to make a significant contribution to public health.” Pre-pharmacy students have completed this internship in the past to become familiar with policy and other relevant public health issues.

In my opinion, applying for jobs online (through mainstream job sites such as Monster.com) is one of the least efficient ways to find a job (the number of applications you send versus how many interviews you secure). These companies receive several applications a day and yours may be filtered out or forgotten before anyone ever looks at them. Although I have used these services along with my undergraduate online job board, many great job opportunities are never listed. When I recently attended an innovation seminar in Orange County called Octane OC, I was able to meet the President of Allergan Medical, Robert Grant, along with many other CEOs of local pharmaceutical and medical device companies. After giving his speech, I had a small chat with Robert Grant and asked for his contact information to inquire about job openings. He obliged, and his staff was more than helpful for me to locate an internship. (Sadly, I had to decline, as I was accepted off the waitlist at USC). At the same time, I compiled a list of pharmaceutical companies in the Los Angeles/Orange County area and contacted every single one of them to secure a few interviews. The moral of the story is to put yourself out there and look for jobs “outside of the box.”

These internships are a perfect way for you to gain relevant pharmacy work experience and set you apart from other applicants. If you plan on pursuing a PharmD/MBA or a career in the corporate or government setting, it will be very beneficial for you to obtain one of these positions.