Navigating the fellowship process
With the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Clinical Meeting approaching (December 6–10 in New Orleans, LA), student pharmacists are wondering about the future of their pharmacy careers. While many students will pursue clinical roles, it is also important to consider the growing influence of pharmacists within the pharmaceutical industry. Below are some strategies to navigate the fellowship process.
Here are some avenues to get the process started.
To get you in the fellowship mode, try applying for a summer internship, even as a first-year student pharmacist. Research internship programs at pharmaceutical, biotech, contract research, and/or health care insurance companies that interest you. I was unable to obtain a pharmaceutical internship initially, so I worked at a pharmaceutical public relations firm. That set me up to successfully obtain an industry internship the following summer. Job openings for interns usually open around February to April of each year.
Another avenue is to ask for a final-year pharmaceutical rotation. If your school does not have pharmaceutical rotations, ask faculty if they know of anyone that may be willing to precept a student. These experiences are incredibly important and set you apart from the crowd during the interview process.
Be sure to do your due diligence. You can prepare for your future fellowship journey by following these important steps.
- Soul searching. Prior to Midyear, narrow your focus. Figure out what types of jobs you interested in. Do you want a 1- or 2-year fellowship? Do you have a location preference?
- Research. Review fellowship websites, many of which have videos where current fellows explain their responsibilities. Sign up for their e-mail listings. You can also attend fellowship webinars or follow fellowships on social media and LinkedIn. If you are interested in a particular fellowship with a company, pick one presentation you have to complete during rotations and present on that company’s drug. Include that on your CV.
- Attend. I had in interest in a Rutgers Fellowship, so I attended the fellowship’s pre-Midyear meeting called Fellowship Information and Networking Day and reviewed their webinar series: Introduction to the Pharmaceutical Industry. Check if other programs have similar meetings.
Okay, now it’s game time. Put your plan into action using the following tactics.
- Focus on an area of interest. Applying for many different job roles that are not closely related may show an unfocused attitude. I suggest that you apply to a maximum of 10.
- Register. Beginning September 16, sign-up for the Personal Placement Service (PPS). Visit to view job descriptions for fellowships and apply.
- Apply early. Some fellowship programs only require you to submit your résumé, while others require short essays. I did not apply to one job early enough and did not get a scheduled interview. Do not make this same mistake. You can request interviews beginning October 21 and PPS opens at the meeting on December 6.
- Schedule. Write down or print out a schedule with 30 minute increments for each day with your scheduled interviews listed.
- Go early. Arrive early on the day of sign-ups if you would like to schedule a few interviews on the first day with the Rutgers Program. This will make the next few days a little less hectic. Do not sign up for back-to-back interviews. You will need time to study before each interview.
- Balance. I applied for seven fellowships with Rutgers and three outside of Rutgers. Most companies have multiple rounds of interviews, so keep that in mind.
- Receptions. You may be invited to a reception that is associated with the fellowship program. Most receptions happen at the same time in varying locations, so plan where you will go, when you’ll go, and stick to a schedule.
- Follow-up. After each interview, many students often write thank-you notes and turn them into a box at the front of the interview booth. I e-mailed each person who interviewed me and thanked them for their time.
- On-site interviews. These usually take place in January, depending on the company. Let your preceptor know ahead of time if you will need time off.
Then, when offered a fellowship, it’s time to make a decision and accept!