How do I get my first internship position?

Discussion in 'Pharmacy' started by Doctor Hue, 05.13.14.

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  1. Doctor Hue

    Doctor Hue

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    Hi, I'm going to be a P1 student late august and I have never worked in a pharmacy at all. I know some people who have been techs years before and people who have just gotten internships at retail pharmacies like CVS for the summer. About 1-2 months ago I have been actively searching, calling and applying to several retail pharmacies such as CVS, rite aid and walgreens around my area. Through all this effort though I literally have been able to secure nothing. I almost had an opportunity with CVS but I messed up my chances by failing their assessment (pretty stupid but I know how I failed and got tips from one of my advisers on how to avoid this next time). So CVS is pretty much out of the picture for the next 3 months I think? Or is it 6 months, whichever the time period is until my application gets removed from their system.

    After the whole CVS incident I moved on to rite aid and I'd say about a month and a half back I came in contact with a store and met the manager there. She was a nice lady and apparently she is looking for new people. So I handed in my resume, we spoke, and I'd say about a week and a half ago I went in for a first interview. I went through the rite aid assessment and everything seemed promising. I was told that I have to come in for a second interview though so she dismissed me and now here I am. It's been nearly two weeks since that first interview and I have called earlier this week as well as last week on if I could get an update on the situation and set up the second interview. Unfortunately, every time I was told that the pharmacy manager will call me back.

    I fear that I am wasting my time and I should always be looking for a position each day until I can finally secure something. Right now I haven't secured anything, even with this particular rite aid. It's pretty disappointing to see other students getting internships and jobs so easily yet I've been struggling for months now to do this. Applying to several pharmacies has been a huge headache and I've probably eliminated all the pharmacies in my area by applying and calling to each one. My only hope would be to re call all of them next week and essentially beg to come in for an interview if I want to get anything done this summer. Money has been the biggest issue for me ever since I started college considering my family is pretty poor. I don't even know how much in loans I've taken out so far but I can only assume it's a decent amount at this point. I wish getting jobs was a lot easier because if I'm struggling to find a simple internship/tech position now imagine how it'll be like later on when I need to actually solidify my career and begin to pay back tons of loans.
     
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  3. BMBiology

    BMBiology temporarily banned~! 10+ Year Member

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    It is not just you, other students are also having a hard time. The obvious problems are:

    (1) record number of students
    (2) interns are more productive than ever since they all want a pharmacist job offer
    (3) plenty of free labor thru IPPE and rotations
    (4) budget cuts
    (5) desperate students are volunteering

    I will be blunt with you. You will have a very difficult time landing a pharmacist position if you do not work as an intern. The competition is already fierce and it is going to get worse as more students graduate.

    It used to be difficult to get accepted but not anymore. All you need is a pulse and financial aid money and you are accepted.

    Is this what you really want to do? Borrow 200-300 k in hope of one day working as a pharmacist when you have not worked in a pharmacy before?
     
  4. jafx

    jafx 2+ Year Member

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    If you are concerned about money, you may want to consider signing up for an ROTC contract so you have a guaranteed position when you finish, some living expense money during, and lower student loans with possible student loan forgiveness.

    Alternatively, consider going to school overseas or switching careers.

    Money is a very real concern... definitely.
     
  5. sakigt

    sakigt Junior Member 10+ Year Member

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    Whats your availability and how many hours are you willing to work (minus, of course, midtems and finals weeks)?
     
  6. Doctor Hue

    Doctor Hue

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    Yeah the competition is pretty fierce right now but I'm literally doing all that I can. Just calling around and I spoke with some professionals at my university of have some connections. All of these efforts have not landed me anything though. Is there anything more I can do besides just calling and waiting? Will begging work?

    What is an ROTC? Also, I'm not going to school overseas and I'm not switching my career.

    If I could actually get an intern position I'd work full time over the summer and part time during the school year. But no one ever hires over the summer. It feels like a rare thing, like only the special/lucky individuals get to become an intern. And when you ask any pharmacy about an internship they immediately say no. It shouldn't be like this, going to pharmacy school and performing well should be the difficult part, getting an internship should be available to people who really want it and put the effort in to get it.
     
  7. jafx

    jafx 2+ Year Member

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  8. Doctor Hue

    Doctor Hue

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    Mur7ay likes this.
  9. jafx

    jafx 2+ Year Member

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    It does indeed. Involves signing a contract where they pay the majority of your tuition in exchange for a 4-6 year contract as an officer. Base pay + a bonus that helps keep you from being horribly below the civilian wage level. The other link is to how a certain number of years of service can wipe out your student loans completely.

    Just saying, it's not a perfect world, you have to make sacrifices somewhere to get ahead.
     
  10. sakigt

    sakigt Junior Member 10+ Year Member

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    Do you need the internship hours? If the answer is no dont worry about getting an "intern" position. Just be a tech. Thats "all" i was. Maybe you need to branch out to other areas with the hope to transfer and pickup hours closer to home later.

    Go here, https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/index.action and figure out how much youll owe. You NEED to know how much youve borrowed, how much youll borrow and what you can do starting now to minimize that.

    Pharmacy school is the easy part. Read some stuff, listen to lectures, smile and nod. The "hard" part is synthesizing it all plus showing that not only are you bright and know your stuff and can prioritize but you show up on time, never call in, pickup extra shifts last minute when help is needed, easy on the patients, easy on your coworkers, and generally be drama-free.

    I am not special, either.
     
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  11. Sprouticus

    Sprouticus

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    I was in a similar situation as you. I applied all over town and didn't hear back from any places. I finally started calling around and fortunate to have called to the right store hiring at the time. I didn't tell them I had applied to pharm school during my interview because I knew they wouldn't hire me knowing I might leave them for pharm school soon and not be able to have the open availability. Anyhow, a month later I got accepted into pharm school and now they are changing my status to an intern in August and giving me a raise. What I'm trying to get at is, I searched for almost a year and I did actually get an interview with a another store initially, BUT during my interview I told the pharmacist I had applied to pharm school and in an instant I got a hesitation by the pharmacist because he wanted someone who won't be leaving them so soon or not be able to be as available once school starts. He ended up telling me he was looking for someone with availability. I learned my lesson from that initial interview and didn't tell the next place I interviewed at about me applying to pharm school & got a position with them! Now they can't do anything about it but to give me my intern position with the option of working when I can since I'm already hired!
     
    Last edited: 05.14.14
  12. RxMonkey

    RxMonkey 2+ Year Member

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    They do have another option. They could just as easily not give you the intern position. Then starve you for hours once you start school until you leave. In fact, if I were a hiring pharmacist and someone did this to me, that's just what I would have done.

    It's deceitful, and extremely risky on your part to lie during your interview.

    As for advice. I would highlight that you are starting pharmacy school in the fall, not hide it. I can't speak for all retail chains, but at CVS, the decision to hire an intern is not done at the store level. That decision is made by the district manager and there is a separate application process. Here's the link http://careers.cvscaremark.com/who-we-hire/internships.aspx#internships-office-scroll

    Other than that, pound pavement. Type up your resume/CV, walk into the store (not during busy hours please ;) ), and actually talk, face to face with someone there. It's a lot easier to dismiss someone on the phone or via e-mail than when they are actually standing there.

    Hope this helps!
     
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  13. Sprouticus

    Sprouticus

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    I agree not to lie during your interview but in my case I was waiting to hear back from pharmacy school so I wasn't 100% sure that I will get accepted so I just didn't say anything about me applying. In your case I would suggest what RxMonkey said.
     
  14. Reirrac

    Reirrac 7+ Year Member

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    Consider applying to hospitals. Students with an intern license can certainly work as technicians. Try independent practices as well. If you're lucky, then you might run into a practice where they are shorthanded (or expanding) and would appreciate the help and are willing to train a newbie.

    Apply everywhere. Even if the odds are not good, you will eventually hit something if you keep trying. Statistically proven.
     
  15. GatorPharm

    GatorPharm 2+ Year Member

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    Apply to Walgreens online here (http://jobs.walgreens.com/search/Community Pharmacy Internship). I agree with the above posters that intern hiring is often done at the district manager level rather than store level. I'd also recommend trying to get contact info for district managers or pharmacy supervisors and contacting them personally. I got a list of all the pharmacy supervisors for a grocery chain at my school's career fair, and an email to the one for my hometown turned into an interview and internship offer. It might be easier to find something after you start school; just take advantage of all the opportunities and connections available to you.
     
  16. BidingMyTime

    BidingMyTime Lost Shaker Of Salt 10+ Year Member

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    As has been mentioned, if you can't get an official "intern" job, try to get a job as a tech.....or even a job as a cashier in a drugstore. Once you have proven your work to the company in a lower position, they will be much more likely to offer you an intern position when one opens up.
     
  17. Doctor Hue

    Doctor Hue

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    Hi everyone, thank you for taking the time to reply to my thread. I thought I had something with a Rite Aid but I was told today that they couldn't hire me because they already have the maximum amount of interns allowed at their store. And I couldn't be hired as a tech first because I needed to be hired as an intern due to me being in pharmacy school. I think some of you are confused, I'm currently in pharmacy school. I'm actually going to be in my 3rd year in late august. I've been calling around lately but most places are just telling me that they're not hiring, it's getting frustrating. I'll be calling some more places tomorrow. There's two Walgreens that told me their managers will be in tomorrow. I heard that the hiring is done through a district level, I already put my application in a week ago and have not heard back at all. Whenever I put an application in online I never hear back, it's depressing. As for CVS, I had an issue in which I didn't pass their assessment so a couple of months later I realized that I could just log on, change the e-mail address of my old account and then just make a new account which is what I did. I then applied to a bunch of places and contacted the intern coordinator and pretty much sent a sad sob story e-mail in hopes that I can get anything from CVS. I'm currently awaiting reply on that. I heard rite aid also hires on the district level as well so I have to obtain that phone number some how... I've had it before and called it before but each time I'm always told that there is nothing available. This truly is frustrating. I've pretty much started applying to other random internships at this point in an effort to find work this summer. I've applied to over 200 random internships, I literally just spam applied to them all by sending out my resume. And if I seriously keep getting denied from pharmacy positions I'm just gonna apply to jobs on snagajob.com to find work because this is ridiculous. I seriously wonder how my future as a pharmacist will be if I can't even land an internship, the job/internship scene for this profession is sad.
     
  18. LicensedThinker

    LicensedThinker 2+ Year Member

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    In my experience with pharmacy internships, it's about who you know. I've applied to various internships in most of the major chains and ended up getting a job through a hockey buddy of mine. I didn't even apply to that particular business initially(retail grocery store chain). The second (independent retail) was also acquired through a friend. The only internship I got through actual pharmacy experience was from my hospital IPPE (hospital).

    As a pre-PY1 you have some time, but not much. A good amount of people I went to school with ended up setting up internships during that PY1 year. And for a good amount of my friends it was through knowing someone who had already worked at that particular pharmacy. Network with your peers as much as you are comfortable with. Friends recommend friends for internship positions.

    Aside from that keep plugging away with applications, persistence is also key.
     
  19. Doctor Hue

    Doctor Hue

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    I think I'm running out of time. I know a couple of people who already have internships taken care of. Also, I don't have many friends. One of my friends got an internship but it's not pharmacy related. Some of my other friends aren't looking at all this summer. I know some people who got an internship but I'm not close enough with them for them to actually care and want to help me get an internship as well. This is like trying to find a girl, when will the struggle end?
     
  20. LicensedThinker

    LicensedThinker 2+ Year Member

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    You have time, you don't necessarily have to start an internship by a certain point. Just as long as you have some experience by the time you start thinking about career options.

    Oh yeah, and work hard during your IPPE rotations when they swing around. You'd be surprised by what opportunities can come from them.
     
  21. Doctor Hue

    Doctor Hue

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    So apparently I got in contact with the intern coordinator for CVS. We did a phone screening and I answered some questions. I told them I wanted to do retail long term and they asked me where I would like to work post grad. My hometown is in NJ and I'm currently going to school in philadelphia. I have no idea where I would want to work once I become a pharmacist so I just said philadelphia. She warned me that the competition would be high in philadelphia due to the amount of pharmacy schools there. I just stuck with my choice though because in NJ I have no reliable means of transportation. Would I be tied to working in philadelphia as a pharmacist if I can land this intern position? I don't mind working for CVS as a pharmacist it's just that I don't want to sell the rest of my life to this one city this early. I haven't even thought about where I would want to live in the future, california sounds pleasant, maybe somewhere in new jersey, or florida, or maybe new york. My point is that later on if I wanted to branch out to other CVS stores in different states could I do that?
     
  22. RxMonkey

    RxMonkey 2+ Year Member

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    By interning at CVS, you are not accepting any agreement to work for them after school.
     
  23. Doctor Hue

    Doctor Hue

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    Awesome, I wish I made a new account earlier and did this a lot earlier... Hopefully I can be contacted back, this may be my last hope. Otherwise I'm going to just have to go on snagajob and apply through everything all day.
     
  24. LearnerSharer

    LearnerSharer 5+ Year Member

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    My friend Hue,

    I admire your tremendous efforts in looking for intern job. This experience and efforts will help you a lot in the future when you become pharmacist and look for pharmacist job, which will be easier than finding intern job. Why? Let's step inside the mind of a pharmacy manager and see how it works then you will not feel so bad....

    As intern, you tell me you can only work this hour and this hour because study load at pharmacy school is heavy and stressful and your friends are failing and getting kicked out of school so you are freaking out and studying more every day. I know and I feel bad for you because I was in pharmacy school. At the same time, I am managing a very hectic pharmacy with my supervisor breathing down my neck to improve the numbers or I will see the other side of the door. The hours that you can work don't always fit with the hours I need. If you are a manager, would you hire intern? That's why intern job is not easily available.

    As intern, during school year, you have to work within the area around your school. Outside of school year, most of interns like to work near home. Your ability to travel to working location is limited compared to someone working as pharmacist. As regional intern coordinator, I have to find store that fits your needs and my needs. That's why intern job is not easily available.

    As intern in a chain pharmacy, you get paid more than a technician and a clerk. Most pharmacists need more helpers to handle duties of technicians or clerk. Most pharmacists dream of having interns to do intern duties as transferring in and out, getting phone scripts, pre-check scripts, basic counseling,....but no pharmacists have money to hire intern for those reasons only. If you have no experience in pharmacy and you are going to get paid more than a technician, that's going to eat into my budget for the same help I get from technicians. That's why intern job is not easily available.

    And on top of it all, after training you for many days, you will be off to pharmacy school and eventually will be gone to other places and places and places...

    If I invest in training a clerk or a technician, this person is likely going to stay around with me for years...I have seen as long as 24 years....
    If I invest in training you, the intellectually good intern, how long will you stay around....? There's a chance you will stay with the company and work as pharmacist....There's also a chance you will move on to other chains or hospital or other pharmacies....

    Those are some of relevant burdens going through the mind of a hiring person regarding your intern situations. That may explain why getting intern job is harder than pharmacist job or technician job.

    As you may have read around here: as a pharmacist, you have the freedom to accept job at any city just to get a job to pay bills. We know such job won't be the best job but by mentally preparing to accept job at any city for any shift, you can rest assure you will have a pharmacist job to pay bills.

    As intern, you don't have that freedom in location. You have to work within certain distance of school or home. That's one of the reasons why you may not find intern job easily compared to pharmacist job.

    Within a chain, you have done it correctly to contact regional intern coordinator. Your current efforts and willingness to beg stands out, in my opinion, as a good flexible skill that will get you far in life, especially in hectic retail work life.

    Within a chain, I have collected some of the thoughts that I would like to share with you:
    For 1 hour of work, pharmacy managers often are reluctant to pay intern pay rate when paying for technician costs less.

    Some regions have budget for intern, you have to contact at region level.
    Some pharmacy district managers like the regional budget and hire as many interns as possible and then have only 2 pharmacist positions to offer to about 20 interns and corporate have to let go 18 interns who graduated. Now, corporate frowns on that as wasted dollars on the wrong district.

    From perspective of corporate office, why spend money to train 18 interns when you can not offer them a pharmacist job?
    From perspective of pharmacy district manager, I will get free help for my district and I will improve customer's service and script counts for now. Trained interns can get pharmacist job at other districts within the corporate chain, so, we are not wasting money at all.

    Some pharmacy district managers don't like to hire intern because some intern will aggressively ask for job after graduations. Every year, imagine you are a pharmacy district manager and you have to pick intern to keep and whom to let go...

    Those are some thoughts I would like to share with you so you do not feel so bad now about the hardship of getting intern job. Please continue the search and let us know...We can help, one way or another.
     
  25. LearnerSharer

    LearnerSharer 5+ Year Member

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    Some friends of mine got paid intern job after doing very very well as free intern on school rotations. So, it's true, rotation is one of your best job applications. You are given the chance to prove to your pharmacy friends that: you have the personality for community pharmacy, you can handle patient's complaints and stay cool and can talk with patient. Why?

    you have the personality for community pharmacy,
    Surprisingly, some pharmacy students do NOT have the personality for community pharmacy, they better fit with other places.

    you can handle patient's complaints and stay cool
    Surprisingly, some pharmacy students can NOT handle patient's complaints and stay cool, they better fit with other places.

    and can talk with patient.
    Surprisingly, some pharmacy students can NOT talk with patient, they better fit with other places.
    Sad but true, I have a few classmates who can not explain in English clear enough for a one-to-one conversation (some are foreign exchange students and some just mumble when they talk). I sincerely hope they are better now.

    At this point, I agree with other posters that you will find intern job later.
    About your need to work for experience, you will have time and better opportunities to build that experience before being pharmacist.

    About your need to work for money, please try to explore other options. Perhaps borrow more? Did you max out already? Ask you school financial aid office, they may have trick for you. I once asked for more during undergrad year at a university and was given extra 5 thousands in financial aid because I could provide evidences of financial hardship of caring for sick family members.


    I was going to send you private message but I post here because my thoughts may also help someone out there in similar situation like you....

    Did you read about money discussions around this forum of Student Doctor Network?
    There are many many perspectives:
    Some encourage you to work during school and pay loan interest to minimize loan.
    Some encourage you to not work during school and maximize studying to avoid failing and getting kicked out of school.

    Either way is good depending on your life situation and mind ability. As I have seen so many sad stories of friends that failed classes and lost many friends in pharmacy school, I lean toward maximizing studying, serious studying.

    Did you read about people failing pharmacy school? Please see from both sides of the student life.

    Good luck again on your long journey....
     

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