5 Tips for New Pharmacy Grads
In May of 2018 thousands of pharmacy students from the 130+ pharmacy schools in the U.S. will earn their PharmD and prepare to launch their new career as licensed pharmacists. Of course, the NAPLEX and MPJE still need to be tackled, but hopefully these won’t prove too difficult. My own students are currently doing a week-long board-review program sponsored by their school, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. If you are one of these roughly 15,000 new graduates, I wish to congratulate you on your accomplishment.
Some of you went back to college to pursue pharmacy as a second career. Some of you aren’t finished with school yet and will be going on to do a residency, fellowship or pursue an additional academic degree. Still others will be, for the very first time in their life, punching a clock and going to work. While there are many articles available to help coach new graduates entering specific career paths, I would like to write something more general that will apply to all of you no matter what your next step in life will be.
The following are my 5 tips for new pharmacy grads:
- Refuse to be average. Never dial in a single day. The health of patients and the development of great companies and careers depends upon people just like you achieving uncommon things. The average person does the bare minimum. The average person looks at a job description and never does more than what is asked. The average person only thinks about what is best for them and their needs: they want the best opportunities, the best benefits and every weekend off. I heard someone once define average as “the best of the worst…or the worst of the best.” Either way, you don’t want to be average.
- Think like an employer. Yes, most likely, you are starting your career as an employee. But my advice to you is, right from the start, think like an employer or a boss. What are the challenges that your company is facing? Who is your competition? How can you work to solve these problems and set your team apart from the rest in your industry? I have worked in management for over 20 years. I talk to other managers and leaders in health care. You might be surprised how easy it is to impress your new boss. Be reliable. Work hard. Show up on time. Do what you say you will do and do it quickly. Employers love this and you will quickly set yourself apart.
- Understand that your reactions determine your future. Where you go, how far you climb, the things that you end up accomplishing with this new career will be ultimately determined by your reactions. How will you respond to the first crisis at work? Every workplace will have issues. You will have co-workers that want to bring you down with complaining and gossip. Remember this: attitude determines altitude. Someone once said that “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” You have control over how you react to every situation.
- Be humble, but be confident. If you put some of this career advice into practice, people will take notice. You will hear things like “good job” and “nicely done.” These are little tests of your character and a great opportunity to show that you are leadership material. Share the compliments with those around you, above you and below you. Spread the credit around. Acknowledge the role that others have played to help you, no matter how small that role may have been. This is grace, and this is the mark of a person who will go far in their career. And be confident. Walk tall. Look people in the eye. Smile. Lean in. As Jordan Peterson puts it in his book “12 Rules for Life” you should “walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous. Encourage the serotonin to flow plentifully through the neural pathways desperate for its calming influence.”
- Finally, network like a rock star. Seriously. Learn the art of building a network of professional friends, colleagues, associations, like-minded pharmacists and talent recruitment experts like those here at Pharmaceutical Strategies. Someone once said that the “opposite of networking is not working.” Want to work? Then network! At many stages in your career you will need the help of others to get you to the next level. There is an old proverb that says “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” Networking is about sharing great ideas, giving free advice, looking for ways to help those around you. Do this, and your network will grow.
Congratulations again on your new degree. I hope these words have given you something to think about and something to do. May you experience all the joys, challenges, failures, victories and satisfaction that your degree now entitles you to. No one else can do it for you now. Go get it!