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Mitchell Linton, PharmD
June 9, 2020

Professional shot

Company and Department: AbbVie, Sales

Role: Immunology Sales Representative in Rheumatology

Alma mater: Howard University

Since the beginning of pharmacy school, I knew I wanted to eventually work behind the scenes in a field that had the potential to improve patient health on a global scale. At the time, I hadn't yet learned that the pharmaceutical industry would provide that exact opportunity. Over the past few years, I connected with many pharmacists currently working in industry who shared their experiences and helped me realize that what I really wanted was the ability to marry my clincal knowledge with my business acumen—that's how I could truly make a difference.

Though many secure a fellowship after graduation, the landscape is growing increasingly competitive and I knew I needed to research alternative pathways to industry. After consulting my mentors, I learned more about pursuing sales full time and the doors that could open for me. I attended a sales conference where I had the opportunity to interview and apply for my future role in sales at AbbVie Pharmaceuticals. While interviewing, I felt like I was able to effectively demonstrate the value that my education and background would add to the company. Many commercial fellowship programs have rotations in sales because of its focus on product knowledge and company insight. I knew this was the right starting point for me.

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Sheneisha White, PharmD, RPh, MBA
June 9, 2020

Sheneisha White, PharmD, RPh, MBA

Company: Pfizer

Current Role: Territory Business Manager

Alma Mater: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

“Delay does not mean denial.”

During my time as a pharmacy student at Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, I was President of SNPhA, APhA-ASP, and other professional organizations for four years. I worked diligently to educate my classmates and faculty about opportunities for pharmacists outside of retail and clinical—I wanted to highlight that pharmacists could do more and that pursuing a career in industry could open many doors. I was even able to secure Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb to come and speak at my school about their industry roles.

After realizing that my path did not include a fellowship or residency, I applied for business school at Florida State College (FSU). While attending FSU and studying for my boards to become licensed, I began the search for a role in industry. I wasn’t sure about which role was best for me. I knew most about becoming a Medical Science Liaison, since that’s where most PharmDs I knew navigated to, but continued to explore other options that would also allow me to leverage my MBA.

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Lily Earnest, PharmD, RPh, MBA
May 22, 2020

Lily Earnest

Company: Genentech

Current Role: Clinical Specialist

Alma Mater: University of Southern California

When I first started pharmacy school, I thought for sure that I wanted to become a clinical pharmacist and do a PGY1 in acute care. In my first year, our school promoted some of the dual degrees they offered and I decided to apply for the MBA. To be honest, I didn’t have a good reason for applying except for the thought that the extra business degree might come in handy if I ever decided to go into hospital administration later in my career. My second year when I started business school, I discovered a hidden passion for marketing, which led me to completely reimagine how I wanted to build out the rest of my career.

Business school really opened my eyes to all the possibilities outside of traditional pharmacy and I never looked back. From there, I focused on talking to as many people as I could across pharma and consulting companies to learn how to best marry my two degrees and set myself up for long term success in the business world. The Commercial Rotation Development Program (CRDP) program at Genentech stood out to me the most because it was a rotational program that would allow me to build a strong foundation in marketing and sales within a company that aligned with my background in science and pharmacy.

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Tatsiana “Tanya” Verstak, PharmD, MS
May 6, 2020

Tanya Verstak

Company: Takeda Pharmaceuticals

Current Role: Lead Pharmacovigilance Scientist

Alma Mater: University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy, Class of 2020

Prior to pharmacy school, I worked as a clinical trials coordinator and had my first exposure to industry. I mostly worked with MSLs and monitors, but over time I met several professionals with a PharmD that held a multitude of various positions within the industry. I had always wanted a career that combined my passion for helping people with my desire to work on cutting edge research, so I decided to pursue a PharmD with hopes of advancing both my scientific knowledge and clinical skills.

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Mahwish Khan, PharmD, RPh
April 19, 2020

Mahwish Khan

Company: Eisai Inc., Scientific Communications, EGNBU

Current Role: Medical Information Specialist

Alma Mater: Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy, Class of 2019

Since the beginning of pharmacy school, I always knew I wanted to pursue a career path far from the norm. I did not know what it was until I hosted my very first event on campus, which highlighted the unconventional roles of pharmacists. This event showcased careers in public health, managed care and pharmaceutical industry. I was utterly in awe of the accomplishments made by industry pharmacists and aspired to be a leader in this field someday.

Like many of my peers, I worked in the retail setting for the majority of my professional career. Although there were many aspects which I appreciated about this field; this was not how I wanted to utilize my degree. During my final year of pharmacy school, I began to do intensive research on specific departments within the pharmaceutical industry. I found that functions within medical affairs intrigued me the most.

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Mary Li, PharmD
April 19, 2020

Mary Li

Company: AstraZeneca

Current Role: Medical Scientist in Late Phase Immuno-Oncology

Alma Mater: University of Maryland Baltimore, Class of 2016

Four years ago, I was in your very shoes, approaching graduation and wondering what I was going to do with my life. For those of you reading this, I hope my story provides you with some inspiration, as I poured over these IPhO spotlights myself in those days of praying for a job in industry, and it truly gave me hope as to what I could achieve.

I was a late starter in my interest of industry. I thought industry was all intense research and benchwork in labs, working by myself, and as I was a people person, I thought it wouldn’t be a place for me. Then, as I attended AMCP roundtables hosted by my school and read over the Rutgers Fellowship Brochure, I was excited to find that there were many opportunities besides lab work in industry, and they sounded interesting and innovative.

I was lucky enough to get into an FDA rotation before Midyear and my school placed my Eli Lilly rotation afterward. Midyear, as many of you know, is a grueling process, and I completed 36 interviews in 4 days (which looking back, may have been a bit excessive). I waited and waited until late January, when I realized I wouldn’t get an onsite interview, as some of my friends had already received offers. I thought it was nearly impossible to get a job in industry without a fellowship, so I decided to try for a residency, thinking that additional clinical skills could only help me to get an industry job later. I ended up interviewing onsite at multiple hospitals, but ultimately didn’t match, the first or second time.

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Gina Kim, PharmD
April 14, 2020

Gina Kim

Company: Medpace

Current Role: Clinical Research Associate

Alma Mater: Regis University

My curiosity to explore and discover, as well as my desire to build knowledge, naturally drew me to industry. Prior to entering pharmacy school, I had worked in a research lab and gained experience as a pharmacy technician in the community retail setting. In pharmacy school, the integrated curriculum focused on Team-Based Learning at Regis was a good fit and allowed me to hone my teamwork skills by committing to my team’s success. In my first year, I had the wonderful opportunity to be a pharmacy intern at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

At the time, my career plans were focused on residency and becoming a clinical pharmacist. Eager to encounter new ideas, people and activities, I became a student leader in professional organizations, volunteered in community outreach programs, and took on extracurricular projects. My journey through pharmacy school was steady going, with the occasional setback and sacrifice that occur on one’s path to success. I learned a lot about myself through this experience including recognizing my resiliency and perseverance. By my fourth year in pharmacy school, I had grown ambivalent of my initial pursuit of residency. I was torn between what I thought I should do versus what I actually wanted to do.

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Phillip Litmanovich, PharmD, RPh
April 11, 2020

Phillip Litmanovich, PharmD, RPh

Company: Alexion Pharmaceuticals

Current Role: Medical Information Specialist, Global Medical Information

Alma Mater: MCPHS University, Boston

There is always more than one path to a goal. To those whose goal is working in the pharmaceutical industry, I would beckon you to first define what it is you would be passionate about doing. For myself, defining this was the first and most crucial step in beginning my path to a fulfilling career in industry.

Throughout my time in pharmacy school I did not put much thought into what career track would provide me with the type of job I found satisfying. Like many of my peers I began working as a pharmacist in the retail setting. Quickly realizing that for myself, this was not how I wanted to use my degree, I took time to investigate the different career opportunities for a pharmacist. I reached out to colleagues who worked in the industry in various roles, trying to understand what it is they did and whether I could see myself in a similar role. I found myself intrigued by the function that pharmacists had in medical information; a focus on understanding and educating others about therapeutic areas and medications, distilling down a wealth of information and using it to support physicians.

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Syed Zafar, PharmD
April 6, 2020

Syed Zafar

Company: Greenwich Biosciences

Current Role: Pharmacovigilance Scientist

Alma Mater: MCPHS University, Boston

If you focus on the finish line and reverse engineer the steps to get there, you'll be able to reach the end.

My interest in the pharmaceutical industry began during my first professional year of pharmacy school. It was at this point in my academic career that I started to learn about the opportunities for a pharmacist within the healthcare system. The concept of the pharmaceutical industry appealed to me for many reasons, but one of the main reasons was to have a global patient impact.

As I learned where I wanted to be after my education, I began to delve into more of the roles within the pharmaceutical industry. I joined organizations at my school, such as IPhO, to gain more insight. During my second professional year, I helped start the first chapter of ISPE (International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering) at my university. These opportunities not only provided me with immense knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry but helped me connect with like-minded individuals and respected industry professionals.

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Subhan Mian, PharmD
April 3, 2020

Subhan Mian

Company: Celgene

Current Role: Global Regulatory Affairs Specialist

Alma Mater: UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy

The road to a career in research and development is as long and tough as it is rewarding. To be honest, I’d never pictured myself being able to get my foot in the door for a major company, but life had other plans—and my journey to a position at Celgene was very nontraditional. After my second year of pharmacy school I was selected to participate in a short-term contract position with the Small Business and Technology Development Center in Durham. The application was provided through the university and my resumé stood out, probably due to my involvement in extracurricular activities, more so than academics alone. Through this, I was matched to two start-up pharmaceutical companies, and served as an Associate Clinical Consultant. I realized that this was an opportunity to truly understand the research and development side of pharmaceuticals, and I immediately became immersed in FDA guidance, regulatory affairs, grant proposal writing, and giving presentations to key opinion leaders. I learned more about the regulatory and medical affairs side of drug development, and over time, better recognized the importance of pharmacists in the industry.

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Frank Son, PharmD
April 1, 2020

Frank Son

Company: VeganMed, Inc

Current Role: Medical Scientist

Alma Mater: University of the Pacific: Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Entering pharmacy school, I envisioned myself as a retail pharmacist impacting patients’ lives on the frontlines post-graduation. However, my curiosity for nontraditional pharmacist roles grew as I progressed through school and accumulated exposure to various aspects of healthcare where pharmacists played an integral role. Persistence in seeking out varying career paths ultimately led me to discover my passion for industry.

During my final years of pharmacy school, I sought out every opportunity to build my industry-relevant skills. I engaged in a startup environment as a Clinical Research Associate with a physician looking to develop his own nutraceutical, managed cardiovascular research trials as a Primary Investigator at the David Grant USAF Medical Center, and completed a medical affairs internship focused in multiple myeloma at Amgen with the Intercontinental Scientific Affairs team.

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Nicholas Gast, PharmD
March 30, 2020

Nick Gast Headshot

Company: ApotheCom

Current Role: Senior Medical Writer

Alma Mater: Northeastern University

Do I want to wear a suit or a white coat, maybe both? Going into pharmacy school I had a strong inclination of pursuing a career in the pharmaceutical industry. I was working as a pharmacy technician at a retail chain when I applied to pharmacy school and knew I wanted to explore different roles. However, at the time I really did not know how pharmacists could get involved in the industry. I am originally from the Boston area so after being accepted to Northeastern University I decided it would be a good idea to stick around this booming biotech area.

During my time at Northeastern University I took advantage of being involved in the IPhO organization as much as possible. The organization through partnerships with MCPHS was able to host presentations from several pharmacists in various roles throughout the industry. The value of networking and interacting with industry pharmacists while you are in pharmacy school cannot be understated! Hearing from those involved in the industry first-hand gave me major insight into the types of roles I wanted to pursue.

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Romy Bury, PharmD, MBA
March 25, 2020

Romy Bury Headshot

Company: Bristol Myers Squibb, US Commercial

Current Role: Project Manager

Alma Mater: Rutgers University, Class of 2010

In all honesty, I didn’t picture myself working in industry and my journey to BMS was a little non-traditional. I started working at Walgreens during my first year in pharmacy school and absolutely loved retail. Retail can be tough, but patient interaction was incredibly important to me.

I continued to work for Walgreens after graduation and soon became a Pharmacy Manager. I got the chance to work on various special projects such as leading Immunization CEs and working on the recruiting team, but after 12 years in retail, I knew I was ready for a new challenge. I started looking into getting an MBA with the intention of moving up the ranks at Walgreens or finding a job on their corporate team. Life had a different plan.

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Nada Yassein, PharmD
March 3, 2020

Nada

Company: ETHOS Health Communications

Current Role: Medical Writer

Alma Mater: University of South Florida College of Pharmacy

Make no mistake, getting into industry is as rewarding, as it is difficult. My goal during pharmacy school was to explore all paths a pharmacist could take in order to get a better understanding about what I wanted to do. I started my career in a traditional role as a retail pharmacy intern. I found myself uninspired and undervalued. It was from here I was determined to pursue alternative options that would fulfill my never ending desire and passion to grow.

After my first year of pharmacy school I became an intern at Elsevier/Gold Standard where I started to learn about the nontraditional roles available to a pharmacist. I learned the impact a pharmacist had on drug information, which sparked my interest in further understanding what pharmacists could do within a drug company. I applied for a rotation at Bristol-Myers Squibb, which helped me understand the importance of a pharmacist in the pharmaceutical industry.

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Shogheeg Apkarian, PharmD, RAC (US)
February 2, 2020

Shogheeg

Company: AstraZeneca

Current Role: Associate Pharmacovigilance Scientist - Oncology

Alma Mater: Notre Dame of Maryland University, Class of 2017

As a student, I completed a rotation at AstraZeneca for Pharmacovigilance. When my rotation ended, my preceptor's manager felt my work was strong and asked to keep a copy of my CV on file. My rotation took place after Midyear ended, and unfortunately I had not matched with a fellowship program, so it was critical that I maintained a strong professional network after my rotation and after graduation.

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Opeoluwa Fagbemi, PharmD
January 26, 2020

Opeoluwa

Company: Arbor Pharmaceuticals

Current Role: Territory Business Manager

Alma Mater: University of Maryland–Baltimore, Class of 2016

While fellowships are a great way to break into the pharmaceutical industry, many pharmacists have landed various positions within the pharmaceutical industry without a fellowship. Fortunately, I was able to secure a commercial role through an unconventional route by connecting the dots of my past experience to procure my current role. I worked in retail for two years after pharmacy school, becoming a pharmacy manager in the process. Not long after, I worked as a clinical pharmacist in the private practice setting. These positions helped me develop a strong business acumen and build relationships with healthcare providers.

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Enya Guo, PharmD
June 23, 2019

Enya Headshot

Company and Department: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Regulatory Affairs

Current Role: Regulatory Submission Project Management Specialist

Alma Mater: Rutgers University, Class of 2019

During pharmacy school, I wanted to explore the variety of career paths pharmacists could take before deciding on my own. I tried community pharmacy and hospital pharmacy, but it was during my summer internship at Pfizer when I realized I wanted to pursue an industry career. After researching various areas of industry to learn more about what would interest me most, I set out to pursue Regulatory Affairs.

When selecting APPE rotations, I intentionally chose a rotation in Global Regulatory Affairs at Merck before Midyear because I wanted to be able to share my experiences during interviews. I also applied to a part time job at a Regulatory Affairs agency so I could gain even more hands-on experience. My hope was to secure a fellowship at Midyear.

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Harris Nguyen, PharmD
January 13, 2019

Harris Headshot

Company and Department: Parexel, Pricing & Market Access

Current Role: Associate, Pricing and Market Access

Alma Mater: Temple University School of Pharmacy, Class of 2018

One of the reasons I chose pharmacy school was the versatility of the degree. The option to choose among retail, hospital, and industry was enticing and I set out to make my time in school valuable by experiencing as many different potential avenues as I could, which I did through internships/IPPEs/APPEs and various jobs. I was fortunate enough to have two of my fourth-year rotations at Teva and Genomind. These experiences made me want to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry.

The opportunity to make an impact on a large scale and have a dynamic set of day-to-day responsibilities while maintaining work-life balance appealed to me on a major level. So, like many students, I attended Midyear with the goal of attaining a fellowship. I spent an absurd amount of time on applications, cover letters, resumes, and interview prep. At the time, I truly had everything planned down to the most meticulous of details—like the weight of the paper my resume was printed on and the general statements to be included on my thank you notes. Midyear and the subsequent months were an anxiety-ridden blur, filled with interviews and waiting. At the end of it all, despite three on-sites, nothing lined up for me and I was distraught, especially since I was graduating in two months.

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Chirag Shah, PharmD, RPh
November 10, 2018

chirag_hs Company and Department: Arena Pharmaceuticals, Program Management

Current Role: AD, Global Program Management (R&D)

Alma Mater: Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Class of 2014

My career path has been filled with curiosity and opportunity. But before I dive into the details, I think it’s important to appreciate the tremendous amount of opportunities available for pharmacists—in hospital, retail, managed care, or the pharmaceutical industry. No matter what role you pursue, at the end of the day, your doctorate in pharmacy will serve you well and provide you with a strong scientific acumen. The beauty of the pharmaceutical industry is that there are countless opportunities that require you to apply your scientific knowledge and ultimately learn to develop a solid understanding of the business.

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Sarica Vieda Klein, PharmD
August 10, 2018

Sarica Klein Company and Department: Sanofi Genzyme, Medical Affairs

Current Role: Medical Science Liaison

Alma Mater: University of Southern California, Class of 2006

After earning an undergraduate degree in biology, I started working at Amgen in the preclinical research department. It was there that I discovered my love for working in the pharmaceutical industry. More than anything, I enjoyed being surrounded by innovation and cutting-edge science, where the ultimate goal was simple: to help patients. I was encouraged by a PhD coworker to continue my education and I decided to pursue a doctorate of pharmacy. I was admitted to USC pharmacy school, where I spent every day gaining knowledge and growing more appreciative of my education. With the help of two other classmates, I started the Student Industry Association where pharmacy students could learn about careers in industry.

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