The Competitive Edge for Pharmacy Students: Are You Your Own Brand?

MARCH 13, 2018
In pharmacy school, we have a lot of demands: study, join student organizations, complete projects, pass exams, and, oh yeah, class … BUT if that is all we do, we will be just the same as everyone else. Don’t get me wrong—pharmacy school was honestly one of the best times of my life, and I have tremendous respect and loyalty to my alma mater. However, if we take the nostalgia aside and look at this from a business perspective, how will you make yourself unique? How will you stand above the crowd to offer something extra from your colleagues, so that when it comes down to the job interview, you are an easy candidate to immediately favor?
           
What if the head honchos at the business or pharmacy where you are applying already knew you ahead of time? Have they smiled as soon as they saw you because you had put in the effort and time to make that connection, fostered that into a relationship through your follow up, through your work ethic, and demonstrating that there is something special about you? Is there something extra that makes them think 'There’s just something about this one I really like'?
           
You won’t make any moves or create any clout from the library or your coach—you have to go out into the marketplace and market yourself. Yes, I said 'market yourself,' as in your very own personal brand. Who are you? What do you represent? What are you super passionate about, to the point where when you started talking about it, your genuine enthusiasm gets other people excited as well?

That is what it takes in this ever-evolving and competitive market we know as pharmacy. It doesn’t matter what niche you are looking to get into, what company you are seeking employment with, or what post-graduate studies you are hoping to pursue: how you brand and market yourself matters!

This might feel a little intimidating‚—maybe even a little overwhelming. 'You mean to tell me that on top of my schoolwork and class time and projects and exam prep—I need to do MORE?!'

No—I am imploring you to make the most of your potential to set yourself up as a positive influence to what you really love and want to make your life career. Now is the time—waiting or ‘doing it later’ will only give your competition time to seize your space and build a stronger presence. Don’t you want to be the ‘go-to’ expert on something you are extremely passionate about? How would that make you feel? Pretty pumped, right?!
 
There are 5 things to consider when you embark on representing yourself as a brand to get your message and mission out as effectively as possible to your audience:
 
1. Quality content

Very simply put, you need to create content that people actually want. Whether that is charts, graphs, videos, podcasts, or memes, put yourself in your audience's shoes. There is so much information out there. If you were scrolling through it all and stumbled on your content, would you read it? Does it make a topic/point interesting, easier to understsand, more entertaining, or engaging? These are just some of the factors you can focus on to really drive your value home.

2. Consistency

Imagine subscribing to a magazine that came in January, then one week later, nothing until April, and then the next issue the next day—then you never heard from them again until January 1. Would you pay for that? Or would you pay for one that came like clockwork every week, every month, or maybe quarterly with the reliabilkity that it will always follow through? The content you create and the engagement you get involved with needs to send the same message: 'You can count on me!'

3. Congruency

If you say you are passionate about exercise, but you never work out or none of your actions in creating your content reflect your words, who is going to listen to you? This is a very simple concept that is so often missed. You can't do everything, even though I am sure you have many passions, so follow this ninja tip for content creation: narrow it down to 3 to 5 core concepts. Five or fewer themes that you will focus all of your energy, efforts and content around. For me, it's nutrition, inspiration, and humor—that's it! Before I make a post, I ask myself, 'Does this fit my core concepts?' If it's a 'no,' then I don't post it. Better to ask yourself that before you embark on putting in your time and energy in the content ahead.

4. Innovation

I am willing to bet that you are not the only professial who does what you do, regardless your specific niche. So ask yourself this question: why am I better than my colleagues? Also, what makes my message shine above the rest? If you solve a problem, simplify the status quo, or make a simple change that allows easier understanding or implementation of a concept or skill, you win! Innovation is the name of this game—learn it, use it, and play it well.

5. Collaboration

If you have a mission, something that you are so passionate about you cannot think about anything else, I am guessing it's big. So big, that you cannot do it all by yourself. There are lots of gears involved to make a machine move, so working with those on the same or similar mission as you is a win-win: you each help each other succeed. Bonus: who doesn't love a little competitive advantage from working with someone on your level or slightly beyond where you're at now? That drive keeps us alive, and constantly wanting to push and improve. 

So, there you have it! Five steps to ensure you craft your very own brand. And you don't even need to rent out a warehouse. Unleash the powerhouse within and you will dominate your market by leading with your passion.

Be sure to check out my Instagram account @thefitpharmacist for examples of my content and how I implement the 5 concepts into creating my content. Feel free to send me a direct message there, or email me at [email protected] if you found this article helpful.


Adam Martin, PharmD, ACSM-CPT
Dr. Martin is a licensed pharmacist, having earned his doctorate of pharmacy degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 2012. He is the founder of TheFitPharmacist movement, which strives to empower pharmacists and pharmacy students to thrive in their careers by overcoming stress and unhealthy habits using science-based principles and unmatched support. His passion for helping those in pharmacy led to TheFitPharmacist Podcast on the PharmacyPodcast network, where he provides practical tips for staying healthy while working at the pharmacy, along with interviewing professionals in the top of their respective fields to bring their knowledge right to your earbuds. He merges his passion of pharmacy with the experts in nutrition through being the owner and nutrition consultant at The Diet Doc Pittsburgh North, with the company having over 25 years of success. Learn more and join TheFitPharmacist movement at www.thefitpharmacist.com.
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