What Makes a Good Pharmacy Internship, Good?

Internships serve a definitive purpose for both the student and the employer. The student typically takes an internship to get relevant experience, to solidify a career path and/or to make significant networking connections. Employers hire interns as part of a recruiting strategy for full-time positions, as well as to have extra staff on hand for projects and who are current with newer concepts and strategies. Given then, that the motivations may be different for each party, how do students determine quality from those that are less stellar?

One method of clarification will come from analyzing the internship posting and reading about the organization’s culture. Students must do research on the organization where they are considering internships. They can read about the company mission, organizational chart, leadership opportunities for interns and full-time staff, and general philosophies about the business. How is the internship providing opportunities for the student to gain practical skills and competencies needed in the field? Another factor to consider is whether the internship is part of a formal program with other pharmacy students, perhaps at different levels, or just has one or two individuals helping out. The student needs to decide which is more appealing and beneficial.

Another aspect to research is learning about the earning possibilities. Does the site pay a salary that is competitive? P1 students are likely to earn an hourly rate in the mid-teens, while P3’s are going to get a few dollars more. These rates will vary depending on prior experience and geographical location too. How many hours is the intern expected to work-is it a M-F, 9-5 job or are there night and weekend responsibilities? Having those is not necessarily bad; the student just needs to know expectations prior to accepting a position. Review too, the hours the full-time staff work; that observation can be very enlightening as to the culture of the organization.

In additional to the traditional internship search criteria, pharmacy students have the extra benefit of finding a site that may have students who completed prior rotations there, as well as preceptors on site. There are also locations which have students doing a fellowship or even postdoc work at the same time. This pathway of talent is extremely valuable to a Pharmacy student looking for mentoring from older, experienced students from a different program than the one where they are studying.

Questions on locating a quality internship may be directed to a member of the UConn Center for Career Development Staff. Stop by for an appointment or email us at internships@uconn.edu. Students may also find the Montana Board of Pharmacy Internship Manual full of significant advice and criteria about quality experiences, regardless of the state where they hold an internship.