Friday, February 12, 2010

Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowships: ASHP Midyears and On-site Interviews

Posted by Jeffrey Huang at Friday, February 12, 2010

I would like to dispel some of the mysteries that surround the application process for pharmaceutical industry fellowships and hopefully clarify some of the steps for future students interested in applying. The process is quite a bit different from the format for residencies, which is generally the trend for most of our class seeking post-doc opportunities.
First off, it’s a tough process. No lie. But if you can successfully get through the initial stages, there are definite benefits. Let me explain:
At ASHP Midyears, interested students begin by registering for the Personal Placement Service (PPS). This service is a great way for both students and employers to quickly search through resumes and job descriptions. And through its internal messaging service, many interviews can be set up prior to Midyears. It’s kind of similar to an online dating service – or so I’ve heard.
Now here comes the tough part: interviews. For industry fellowships, candidates will go through the initial formal interviews at Midyears. With the Rutgers Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship Program, there were eight companies potential candidates could interview with, ranging from Marketing, Drug Regulatory Affairs, Health Policy & Strategic Advocacy, and Clinical Development. The Rutgers Fellowship is probably the only opportunity you will ever find in which you will be guaranteed an interview with industry representatives – you just have to sign up!
First-round interviews with Rutgers usually begin with first-year fellows. Immediately following the half-hour interview, you will be told if you are invited for a second-round look, usually with second-year fellows. If you are invited for third-round interviews, they will usually be with industry preceptors or directors. Questions range from specific questions about your CV and projects, to really tough situational questions where the interviewers try to assess how you would behave in the work environment, “tell me about a time when…” or even see if they can get you flustered, “why are you applying for this position, it doesn’t look like you have any past experience” (real question).
As one can apply to several companies, the number of interviews that you can potentially have quickly add up. There are also several receptions or lunches that candidates are invited to as a meet-and-greet opportunity but of course, you are constantly evaluated as a candidate in every situation. I think by the end of the week, I think I had about 18 interviews and receptions, with a total of at least 12 hours of evaluation by the different companies.
The hardest part is done once Midyears is complete. Shortly after, candidates will send in their application materials, which include letters of recommendations, motivation letter, and an updated CV. Sending thank-you letters is also highly recommended to all those who interviewed you, and gives you another opportunity to express your interests and qualifications as a candidate.
After this paper work is complete, it’s basically the waiting game to see if you are invited for an on-site interview. I felt very fortunate to have been invited by one of the industry partners through the Rutgers Fellowship, as well as three companies associated with the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Clinical Research Fellowship.
On-site Interviews
As I had mentioned earlier, once you get through the initial formal interviews at Midyears and are invited on-site, there are its definite benefits. The interviews are completely organized and funded by the industry partner. Flight, hotel, and transportation are arranged and your itinerary will be sent to you a few days prior to your arrival.
Usually, the current fellows will also meet you for meals and take you out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is a great opportunity to ask them questions in a much more informal atmosphere. As described by one of the fellows, their role was to screen the candidates at Midyears and help determine whether you should be invited on-site. Once on-site, it is out of their hands and they just want to make sure the candidates are comfortable and prepared for the interview day.
And overall, the interviews at the company are much more relaxed and casual. As a candidate, you have already been screened and meet the qualifications to be able to perform the work. The on-site interviews are to determine how well you mesh with potential preceptors and directors and see if they would like working with you.
But keep in mind, it’s also a two-way street. While the directors and department heads are interviewing you, you are also interviewing them as well. The meetings are to determine if you ‘click’ with a certain individual and can see yourself being productive, challenged, and happy while working with them at the company.
And finally…
..the acceptance offer. I feel extremely fortunate to have been accepted by both the Rutgers Fellowship as well as UNC-Chapel Hill – I actually just received the offer from Rutgers earlier this afternoon! J It has been really difficult to decide which offer I would like to accept, as both are very well respected, established, and a great pathway into the pharmaceutical industry. I have spoken to a lot of people – family, friends, preceptors, residents – and as one of my rotation preceptors advised, “go with where you think you’ll be the happiest, not only at work but also with where you will be living”. And I think the determining factor for me will be quality of life and which location fits most into my lifestyle. I love being active and outdoors, near the water and sand, and have definitely missed the warmer weather and sunshine.
I think I will be trading in the Maize and Blue to become a Tar Heel!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I read this post two times.

I like it so much, please try to keep posting.

Let me introduce other material that may be good for our community.

Source: Pharmaceutical interview questions

Best regards