The Ins and Outs of the Internship Application Process

AUGUST 01, 2018
Tiffany Chow, PharmD Candidate
As more pharmacists graduate from pharmacy schools, landing a job has become increasingly competitive. For those looking to enter the pharmaceutical industry after graduation, it is never too early to start looking for ways to stand out in the crowd. Internships are one such experience to consider, because they provide a great way to network with industry professionals and learn more about the different departments at a pharmaceutical company.

For many pharmacy students, the application process can feel like a labyrinthine task, but with hard work and the proper planning, it is very possible to land an ideal internship. Here are the 5 best pieces of advice I received during my search for an internship; I hope they will help you as much as they have helped me.

1. Start Early
You don’t have to wait for the application season to be in full swing to begin your search for an internship—the sooner you get started, the better. Make a list of companies that you are interested in applying to and periodically check the career section on their websites; you can also bookmark searches on job posting websites and revisit these pages regularly. January is a great time to seriously start hunting online, but keep in mind that some companies post their applications as early as October, whereas others don’t initiate the process until March.

Additionally, it’s never too early to prepare your résumé and cover letter. Although these documents should be customized to the position, have a general framework ready to go when applications start opening up.

2. Apply Everywhere
There are so many great opportunities out there, and if you keep searching, you can find something that fits your passions and professional interests. Many students are familiar with major pharmaceutical companies like Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis, which usually hire a group of interns for the summer, but a number of smaller drug manufacturers also look for interns. My first summer internship was at a small pharmaceutical company that specialized in innovative drug-delivery methods, and I found the experience to be a great way to get my foot in the door.

If you are interested in pharmaceutical marketing, consider looking for summer internships at agencies. No matter where you intern, you will gain important work experience and develop skills that will serve you well throughout your future career.

3. Do Your Research
Always thoroughly research any company to which you apply. Not only will potential employers expect you to understand their company, but it’s also important that you know why you want to work for them. If an online application requires a cover letter, include a specific detail about the company to show your interest. If you are called for an interview, use the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge about the company’s pipeline and express interest in possible projects.

4. Tap Into Your Network 
The pharmacy world is deeply connected, so using the network you have formed throughout your time at pharmacy school can give you an edge. Ask professors if they know any alumni who work at pharmaceutical companies; reach out to these connections, who maybe be able to help you through the application process and inform you about a company’s expectations.

5. Use Your School’s Resources
Many pharmacy schools offer students a number of resources to help them as they search for jobs and internships. If your school offers an online job platform, see if it lists internships for pharmacy students. If you have the opportunity, attend career fairs; they can seem stressful and unhelpful, but you never know where a conversation can lead you.

The internship application process can be daunting and strenuous, but your hard work will pay off at the end. An internship provides you with invaluable experience that can help shape your future career. After an internship, you will understand how the industry really works and get a better sense of what you might want to pursue after graduation. Good luck, and happy hunting!
 
Tiffany Chow is a 2019 PharmD candidate at the Rutgers University Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

 

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