9 clever ways to get pharmacy work experience

3 mins
June 13, 2022
Pharmacy is the science and technique of preparing and dispensing drugs that have already been researched and developed. If you’re interested in a career in pharmacy, then you’ll know it can be competitive and like many medical careers, you’ll need to have some work experience to help your applications stand out! 

1. Sign up for Springpod’s Allied Health Professions & Pharmacy Virtual Work Experience

Our Allied Health Professions & Pharmacy Virtual Work Experience was written in partnership with Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust. The programme covers the 14 different allied health professions and has a whole module dedicated to pharmacy with the aim of giving you a holistic view of medicine. In the pharmacy module, you’ll explore different roles in pharmacy and find out how you can kickstart your career. You'll get to question the experts in live webinars and participate in activities and quizzes structured around the real-life environment. Finally, upon completing the programme, you'll be awarded a certificate. So what are you waiting for? Sign up now!
2. Speak to your teachers

Students often overlook speaking to teachers, but speaking to the people already in your network is an easy way to get started on your work experience journey. Careers Advisors and Teachers spend their careers developing lists of contacts who care about helping young people access opportunities, so they’ll likely know someone who will be able to help you, reach out to them and ask! 

3. Local pharmacies

The most straightforward route to looking for pharmaceutical work experience is to approach your local pharmacy. Go in with your CV and explain that you are an aspiring pharmacist, they may be able to show you the ropes or answer any questions you have about starting a career as a pharmacist.

If pharmacies are unable to offer you some sort of work experience then it’s time to get creative! Apply for a part-time job at a chain like Boots* or Superdrug* (that has a pharmacy) and learn as much as you can about pharmacy while you’re on shift. In any applications, include this innovative approach to getting work experience and we’re sure you’ll applications will shine out! 

4. Healthcare charities

In the UK we’re lucky to have free healthcare, but there are also loads of healthcare charities and clinics that give medical advice and support to those who need it. Do a quick google search to find charities near you and look for any volunteering opportunities or volunteer at a local clinic. You’ll be able to find volunteering opportunities for all skill levels and in different environments, whether that's helping the homeless or the elderly.

5. Local hospital

Speak to your local hospital and ask if they have any capacity to offer you some work experience, be sure to reach out with your CV and the dates when you’re available so you can get things moving as quickly as possible. The hospital may require you to fill out a more in-depth application, but it’s well worth spending some time on it as work experience in a hospital environment will look fantastic on your CV. 

6. Pharmaceutical companies 

Interning at a pharmaceutical company is a great way to understand how drugs are made and how they make it to us (AKA their approval process). Internships can be tricky to get and there’s no guarantee that you’ll end up doing the work you initially anticipated, but they look great on your CV, so it’s worth taking the time to try to secure one! We’ve got a handy email template you can use to reach out to companies you’re interested in interning at, take some time to personalise it (and show your passion!) and then get sending. Try to look hiring managers up on LinkedIn beforehand so your email reaches the right people.

7. Talk to a professional

You can learn a lot by simply speaking to a pharmacist; they might be able to offer weekly coaching, answer any questions you have or give you some career path tips. They can also help contextualise things you've learnt so far and give you a realistic view of what the profession looks like. They might even know someone (or somewhere!) that could offer you work experience, so it's worth checking!

Make sure you’re getting the best out of your conversations by making a list of questions beforehand and after take some time to think about what you’ve learnt. 

8. Shadow work

Find pharmacists on LinkedIn and see if they would be willing to let you shadow them. Shadow work is all about following a professional during their working day; it allows you to see how the role works more in-depth. When you think about pharmacy work, you might think about giving the people the medicine they need, but you might not consider the amount of maths you’ll have to do or how to give people medical advice when they’re in pain. Shadow work helps to fill in the gaps between what you think the role will be like and reality!

9. Check out the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)

The ABPI mission is to make the UK the best place in the world to research, develop and use new medicines and vaccines. It represents the companies of all sizes who invest in discovering the medicines of the future. By joining you’ll get access to privileges like an industry newsletter and early access to events.

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