Love and Other Drugs - Pt. 1

It isn't very often you hear of a recent college graduate landing his or her dream job.  It has almost become the norm to work a "crap" job until you build up enough experience to land your ideal career.  Sadly, it is even becoming standard to head to graduate school and take on more student debt to avoid fighting the job market!  With grad school not being something I wanted to tackle, I was fully prepared when I graduated in 2012 to suck it up and do whatever I had to do for however many years I had to do it until I would be given a shot at the pharmaceutical industry.  But, as fate would have it, I thankfully happen to be an exception to the unfortunate rule of "post-grad unemployment shock."

I'm honestly not trying to brag here, but I am pretty darn happy with my life and my career thus far.  This series of posts will lead you through my journey of becoming a pharmaceutical sales representative, the dirty details of the pharmaceutical industry, and provide some tips and tricks to landing your dream job.  Take it at face value, folks.  I'm no professional career counselor or life coach, but I do have my career started and hope to share that happiness with others who are currently searching for theirs.


I started my 4 years at Penn State aiming to become a veterinarian.  That's all I had known and wanted to be since I could walk, talk, and pet a cat.  Unfortunately, after 2 years of veterinary studies, I realized that I couldn't possibly afford to become a vet, nor could I put myself through another 4+ years of schooling!  So I switched my major...
6+ times.

Human Anatomy and Physiology -->
Athletic Training -->
Kinesology -->
Physical Therapy -->
 Health and Human Sexuality -->
Business Administration -->

Ultimately, I landed in the College of Health and Human Development majoring in Biobehavioral Health with high hopes of becoming a pharmaceutical sales representative.  Contrary to popular belief, my decision to pursue this route was not money-driven - I genuinely liked selling things!  I had worked for Victoria's Secret for about 3 years and loved my job - my co-workers, the products, and the customers... just not around the holidays or big store sales.  Most of all, I loved seeing someone happier and more confident when they found a product that complemented them.  Of course, selling bras and panties is a COMPLETELY different market than selling pharmaceuticals, so I needed adequate preparation and experience.

It is extremely hard to break into pharma right out of college.  I knew I wouldn't be able to run to GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Merck, or AstraZeneca with my wimpy resume on August 11th, 2012, the day of my official graduation.  Instead, I accepted my first "crap" job: radio sales.  I would learn later (much too late to be of any help) that radio sales is an incredibly difficult selling industry, simply because it is truly a dying market.  My friend who got me this job is one of the few people who has been able to flourish in this field - kudos, Christy!  I worked in radio sales for about a month - 3 weeks of in-office training, 2 weeks out in the selling field - before I was fired (yes, FIRED) for not "performing."  Truth be told, it was a blessing in disguise.  I found out the day I was fired what an honest-to-goodness witch my boss was when she ended my "performance review" by snidely saying, "Pack up your desk.  Sam's Club is hiring," and walking out of the room.
I would have gracefully bowed out had it not for been that low blow.

A few months later, I found myself working at Geisinger as a pharmacy technician.  This job was appealing to me in the first place because it was pretty darn close to what I was interested in.  I was able to learn about the pharmaceutical industry in a "behind-the-scenes" sort of way.  One of the biggest benefits was understanding managed health care, or insurances, and the hold they have over many doctors, patients, and pharmacies.  While this job served it's purpose of providing me with pharmaceutical experience, familiarity with the industry, and patient types, I often felt slighted.  Because I was barely 22 and fresh out of college, people weren't taking me seriously, especially my superiors.  I can't tell you how many times I was condescendingly told how to do something as simple as counting pills or washing my hands!  At first, I soaked it all in because you NEVER want to mess up a patient's medication, but after proving myself beyond competent and intelligent (and clean!), the condescension continued.  I apologize if I sound whiny or bitter, but I was a young professional who was trying to make a name for herself in the industry.  It was beyond frustrating!  At one point, I discovered I was being timed and tracked by a boss while I was out delivering medications to home-bound patients to make sure I wasn't "wasting time" or "taking advantage of the company."  That was the final straw.  I didn't feel as if I was trusted or respected and I needed to find a way out.  That is why when I saw AstraZeneca was advertising for a pharmaceutical sales specialist based out of State College, I took my chances and submitted an application.  Little did I know how successful this shot-in-the-dark would be!

After a few painless interviews, I was hired as AstraZeneca's newest (and probably youngest!) pharmaceutical sales specialist in April 2013.  I was finally a drug rep!


On the blog soon:
Stay tuned for Love and Other Drugs - Pt. 2

1 comment:

sydni said...