Talking to many experienced and older pharmacists in the pharmacy world, the one common mistake pharmacists have admitted to were the limited ‘networks’ that were established during their time in the PharmD program; it is much more difficult to meet and network with others after graduating from pharmacy school and starting your job. This may be due to the focus on trying to get a job, buying a house, starting a family, and/or taking care of your kids with limited time for anything else. And even those networks are not as strong as those that could have developed during their school days, when they had more time to develop their friendships such as going out to eat, studying for a tough exam, sharing an apartment, and even traveling together on vacations. Instead in the professional world, networks are limited to those in the workplace, the professional pharmacy organization that one may join and have limited time for, as well as the few friends that they keep in touch with outside of pharmacy school. The people you meet – your professors, alumni, fellow classmates (and maybe even your future spouse!) will be an important base of network you could seek assistance from long after graduation. Networking is very important for your future, and many would say one of the most crucial elements needed for your career. They may provide referrals for jobs and internships, access to educational programs, critical pharmacy information, advice, exclusive recommendations for many positions, introductions to other networks, and many more. Pharmacy school is a professional graduate program, and your immediate contacts – students, professors, and alumni, during your time in pharmacy school will be the easiest to establish. The number of people you could meet in a relatively short amount of time trumps the number of those you meet in the workplace after graduation throughout your entire career. You would instantly have access to your entire faculty, your direct class, and maybe even other classes, as well as the scores of alumni, professional organization groups, and preceptors. Networking and becoming friendly with those around you will benefit you in the long run. Being social, talking with peers and professors, meeting with alumni mentors, participating with the many organizations available in your school will go a long way for your career as long as those networks or friendships are maintained. This principle applies not only in pharmacy school, but also in life. Being a loner or a ‘lone wolf’, having an unfriendly or arrogant attitude, becoming too independent, and not partaking or participating in organizations or groups are not the best methods to establish these networks. Being open to different things and the ability to adapt to changes are good ways to have the right attitude as pharmacy school will be much different from the undergraduate lifestyle. There are ways to be a competitive student without having to put others down when you are trying to get a better grade on a project.
For those of you who are already in school and have not created your networks, try to use the limited time left in your schooling to make those networks. It is always better late than never because you may never see them again after you graduate. If you have antagonistic relationships with some people, try mending them because you never know when you will see them again; they be employed in a job that you are applying for. For those of you who will begin pharmacy school, you have a head start into this long journey. Remember, pharmacy school isn’t the same as your high school and undergraduate days. This is your professional career, and so you want to approach this intelligently. Always remember people’s names, be genuine and humble, and try to always smile. If you are not a social ‘butterfly’ then do your best to change so that you could establish your network of friends. We talked about how they may help you after graduation, but they may help during pharmacy school as well.