In the ever-changing environment of the pharmacy world, standing out from your peers is more important than ever before. Here are some tips on improving yourself: professionally and personally.

1.     Get as much work experience as possible

Placements organised through universities have become commonplace which, whilst good for your development, isn’t necessarily good for your applications – If everyone has had work experience as part of their degree, then possessing it doesn’t set you aside. Seeking out your own placements and work opportunities is vital.

2.     Try pharmacies other than the large chains

Pharmacy experience isn’t just limited to the large multiples’ training programmes; there are plenty of independents, small chains, and even hospitals looking for students for summer work. The most important thing is seeking the work out yourself as few stores advertise over student channels.

Why not spend some time this month sending out CVs to prospective employers, or even dropping by in person to speak to the manager yourself?

3.     Don’t hold out for paid work

If you can’t get a paid summer job in a pharmacy, don’t be afraid to take unpaid placements – even if just a day or two in length – as these often lead to paid work opportunities. If there is no employment at the end of it all, you’ve still gained a great deal of experience and shown that you’re willing to go that extra mile for your development.

4.     Attend conferences and events

There are plenty of educational (and recreational) opportunities throughout the year that are ideal for development. There are countless opportunities available for students over this next year;

●      the BPSA will be hosting at least twelve conferences;

●      the Royal Pharmaceutical Society host their Annual Conference in early September;

●      EPSA and IPSF host international events throughout the year;

●      Local Practice Forums host events year-round;

●      Student exchanges happen across the globe, including students from the UK; and,

●      Your university will no-doubt be hosting events which you may find interesting.

Plenty of universities offer financial contributions towards conferences and events which will benefit your development so don’t be afraid to ask – students have received fully funded trips to places as far-flung as India and Zimbabwe to attend conferences in recent years! 

Make sure to keep an eye on the BPSA’s publications for more information on events and funding opportunities.

5.     Don’t limit yourself to pharmacy

It’s far too easy to think of hospital and community pharmacies as the only place to get relevant work experience, but that isn’t the case at all. Taking the transferable skills you develop from placements and jobs – the ability to prioritise, manage your time, working well within teams – arguably matters much more nowadays than a checkbox on an application form!

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box – sometimes the best experience comes from the most unlikely places.

6.     Be pro-active in your development

Above all, take charge of your own development, because opportunities will rarely seek you out.

Don’t wait for the student-friendly job placements to be emailed around – get in touch with potential employers and offer yourself to them.

Don’t wait for the University to offer funding – if you have something in mind that will benefit your development, approach them. 

Don’t wait for someone to tell you about the placement’s that they’ve had that you might have liked – get your applications in as early as possible, and don’t let the fact that you might not have had as much experience as others temper your passion.

 

Conor McCahill

University of Manchester graduate and pre-registration trainee.

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