... what are my next steps?!
Well, first of all - if you haven't done so already, nabbing an industry APPE rotation (like ours here at MedVal/PharmaWrite) could be a great place to start. This will give you an idea about whether or not industry truly is for you before you commit fully to attending Midyear or interviewing for fellowships.
If your school doesn't have any industry pharmacy APPE sites (like my school), ask an advisor how to set one up! They'll know how to connect you with companies around your area.
Below, our MedVal/PharmaWrite fellowship director and previous fellow, Maryah Haidery, shares some advice on how to make the most of your industry rotation to help you get a fellowship after graduation!
How do I prepare for an industry rotation?
There usually isn’t much to do to prepare. If you know the department you will be working in (ex. diabetic products), it might be good idea to read up a bit on the products the company manufactures. You can also look up your preceptor on LinkedIn to get a sense of their background.
What should I expect on rotation?
My rotation was at Janssen Pharmaceuticals with the CNS team of the Drug Information Department. Typical activities included literature searches, compendia reviews, medical letter updates, PRC meetings, writing and updating training material for sales reps and listening in on phone info requests
***Important: Keep a running tally of all the projects you do as you do. This list will come in handy when you are updating your CV and preparing for fellowship interviews.***
I am not enjoying my industry rotation. How do I know if industry is right for me?
Industry might not be right for everyone. But before writing it off as not for you, just remember that the experience is highly dependent on the type of rotation (you might be a great fit for regulatory affairs but hate drug info), your preceptor and what is going on in the company during your particular block (e.g., When I got there, one of the products was just approved for a new indication so there were a lot of things that needed updating and I was pretty busy but the girl who was there before me just ended up doing a bunch of literature searches and was pretty bored).
Be prepared to spend a lot of time at your desk and at meetings. This may take getting used to. If you’re not feeling challenged, try and be proactive and talk to your preceptor and volunteer to help in any way you think might be helpful – for example if you see something that can be improved, offer to improve it. If you notice that someone is overwhelmed with a project, try and figure out if you can help.
Bottom line, your industry experience can be as good as you want to make it. And if you don’t enjoy it, try and figure out if it’s that particular department that you don’t enjoy or the industry culture. If it’s the latter and you really don’t feel like industry is a good fit for you, that’s fine too. Better to figure this out earlier rather than later.
What else can I do to make the most of my industry rotation?
Network, network network!!! I personally am not the best at networking but meeting people and making a good impression is key in industry so you better get used to it. The only way to get better is to put yourself out there and practice. I was fortunate in that part of the Janssen rotation is actually setting up meetings with Pharm D’s in different fields (Drug Info, Med Affairs, HECOR, Regulatory Affairs, Drug Safety, etc.). But if your industry site doesn’t do this, I would definitely ask your preceptor if you could set up meetings with people – especially in fields that you are interested in pursuing a fellowship in. Looking up people on LinkedIn is a good way to prepare for networking and might give help you come up with talking points (e.g. you can reference a particular position or company they worked for or a research project they were involved in)
Get a feel for the company culture. All companies are not alike and industry jobs are more than just doing the job at hand. While you are at your site, go to town meetings, poster presentations, speaker events and participate in any interesting committees or activities. Not only will this help you get a better sense of what an industry job entails, but it will also give you good talking points for midyear interviews.
Does it matter if my industry rotation is after Midyear if I plan to go to Midyear?
Yes and no.
Contrary to popular belief, previous pharmaceutical industry experience is NOT required to apply for a fellowship at midyear.
Theoretically, fellowship programs understand that some students may have difficulty getting industry experience before midyear or at all. But practically, It’s pretty obvious that if you have an industry rotation under your belt before midyear, it’s much easier to come up with talking points during interviews and when you say you want to pursue a career in drug info because you had a great experience during your rotation, it’s much more convincing that saying “you think you might be good at drug info”. But the bottom line is that interviewers at midyear are looking for you to demonstrate your problem-solving, team work, communication skills, professionalism, and working style. And while it might be difficult to convince an interviewer that you will be suited to industry despite not having completed an industry rotation, it is possible.
Some industry-like experiences you can talk about if you are in this position:
Also remember that even if your rotation is after midyear, you should still ALWAYS do your best job at the rotation. It is still an invaluable opportunity to make connections and some students have even been offered direct positions in the company after doing a particularly impressive job.