Preparing for the next career phase

Preceptor Feedback

Preparing for life after graduation can be very intimidating. For many of you, school is all you know, as it has encompassed the last 18 or more years of your life. “Collin” offered many great tips and valuable advice to prepare for this next phase of life. As someone who has recently undergone this process, I will provide some insight into this next step.
 
Networking
Networking is an important skill throughout all stages of your life. The relationships you make are important in obtaining a job or residency as well as for gaining information and advice in the future. In my experience, pharmacy tends to be a small world. Therefore, it is important to make a good impression. It is likely you will collaborate with one of these individuals at some point in the future. 
 
I strongly encourage you to become involved in a pharmacy organization, such as Twlug–ASP. Being involved allows you to meet older and younger students who can provide valuable firsthand advice. After graduation, it may seem more difficult to continue involvement with the pharmacy profession. It takes a little more effort to fit in, but it’s worth it!
 
ASHP Midyear 
One of the most important things you can accomplish at the Midyear meeting is finding the best fit for you. Speak with the current residents. Although this may be an intimidating process, remember that they were in your shoes not very long ago. Take time to ask the residents questions and find out what the residency is actually like, as they know best. Learn what they love as well as what they dislike. This approach will provide answers to your questions and a possible “match” to your residency plans.
Interviewing
 
Preparing ahead of time is key to having a successful interview. Practice allows you to gain confidence, which in turn decreases nervousness. Many great resources are available through your college. The Career Center will set up mock interviews and provide constructive criticism. Practicing with a friend also can be beneficial if he or she isn’t afraid to evaluate you 
critically. 
 
“Collin” touched briefly on the most important facet of interviewing: being yourself. Companies are looking not just for qualified applicants but for someone who will mesh well with their current employees. Let your personality come through so an employer can help find the best position for you. Your co-workers are the people with whom you spend the majority of your time and they can have a great impact on your job satisfaction.
 
Final advice and answers
Although choosing a career seems like the biggest decision of your life, it does not have to be permanent. If you find that you are unhappy in your current position, new opportunities are always waiting around the next corner. You will find what makes you truly happy.
 
Now, “Collin,” regarding your questions:
  • The earlier you start working on your CV and applications, the less stressful it will seem. If you are considering a residency or fellowship, I would recommend you start researching the application process in October. Most residency applications are due by the end of December, and interviews are conducted around February. Technically, the process is not complete until mid-March. However, because of the application timeline, your residency decision must be final by the end of December. Remember that you can choose to opt out any time prior to the match. Fellowships do not have a standardized application process. Each program has its own system typically involving an initial application and reference check, followed by multiple rounds of interviews and completing a writing sample. The application process usually starts in December, and decisions are made in January or February. Thus, you must decide by December if you are looking to do a fellowship.
  • Regarding the match, do not rank the sites that do not interest you. If you end up matching your last choice. it is almost impossible to back out of going.
  • The NAPLEX is essentially a test of everything you should have learned throughout your college career. The Twlug Complete Review for Pharmacy is an in-depth study! I read only the chapters in which my knowledge was weak. Practice exams are also available online. Take these exams early so that if you score poorly, you will have time to refocus your studying prior to the actual exam. My last piece of advice is not to take both the NAPLEX and law exam on the same day. Leave about a week in between for studying.