Intern recruitment fair offers students ‘a foot in the door’

February 20, 2013

Stepping into your first internship or job can be a scary thing, especially if you’ve never participated in a formal interview.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy wants to give first- and second-year doctoral students a better opportunity for advancement and progress at the Spring Intern Recruitment Fair on Feb. 25-26.

Retail and clinical pharmacy representatives will interview students from 2 to 4 p.m. on Monday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday on the second floor of the Memorial Student Union Building on the Texas A&M University-Kingsville campus. Recruiters include CVS Caremark Corp., CHRISTUS Spohn Health System, H-E-B, The Kroger Co., Lifechek Drug, Target Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Walgreen Co.

Mahmoud Sabawi, second-year pharmacy doctoral student, had a lot of trouble finding a job in Austin as a pharmacy technician.

“I was excited to hear about the internship fair because I did not have to travel to a bunch of pharmacies and talk to a number of managers; I get to speak to a representative for each company,” Sabawi said.

Steven L. Peterson, Ph.D., professor and associate dean for academic affairs, said the college arranges this fair to provide students the chance to apply and interview for summer internship positions.

“This gives our students an opportunity to experience community pharmacy,” he said. “We want students to receive a practical experience where they can reflect on the curriculum as they apply it.”

Third-year pharmacy doctoral student Sarah Shanks landed a summer internship from an interview at the fair. She said that unless a student is already working for a company or knows someone within the company, it is imperative for students to interview.

Second-year pharmacy doctoral student Nicole Garza went into the recruitment fair feeling like she had somewhat of a disadvantage. “I did not have any prior connections in the pharmacy industry. I ended up with an internship with Wal-Mart and have been happily employed since then.”

Some pharmacy companies allow interviews outside the fair, but that is not always the case. Also, some companies are already assessing the students for future job placements.

Sabawi wanted to work in a hospital, and CHRISTUS Spohn Health System was one of the participants.

“I interviewed with almost every company, and I got two offers: one from CVS and one from CHRISTUS Spohn,” Sabawi said. “I honestly do not believe I would have had a summer job had it not been for the internship fair. I stayed with CHRISTUS Spohn, and now I work every other weekend.”

Even if students do not get a job offer, interviewing and people skills play a vital role in the pharmacy profession. “This is an amazing opportunity for students to connect with major companies and get their foot in the door,” Garza said. “My advice to students taking part in the internship fair is to learn and grow from this experience, it is a win-win situation.”

Students prepared for the fair during “A Day in the Life of an Intern” lunches in January and February, asking questions and listening to pharmacy preceptors and colleagues such as Shanks, who interned previous summers with retail pharmacies.

“It is never too early to make a good impression with the companies that a student will be interested in working for after graduation,” Shanks said. “So, even if a student is not planning on interviewing for a summer internship that year, the fair can be an important step in networking with the companies there.”

— Cheri Shipman

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