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By Rakesh Gollen

Rakesh GollenGoing to graduate school in order to achieve your desired career can be challenging at some points. Learning about the job market and even the expectations of employers before starting the job search for oneself seems impossible. Being a final year graduate student in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Long Island University, New York, I perceive AAPS as a one-of-a-kind scientific society that fulfills every need for scientific knowledge and personal development through various volunteer opportunities offered year round.

Apart from all other career enhancement activities, I would like to share my experience as a graduate student involved with AAPS, showing how different career development activities, including learning the importance of soft skills and improving résumé writing, is helping me to achieve my career goals.

At the 2014 AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition, AAPS introduced the mini-session International Students Working in U.S.: How to Improve Soft Skills, presented by Russell Weiner. It was a successful event where I learned about the importance of various soft skills including, but not limited to, people skills, listening skills, reasoning skills, general personality, attitude, and overall preparation for an interview. For instance, going forward with my job search, I am more confident in terms of résumé format and interviewing for a new role. For those who missed the session and want to improve on soft skills, a well-summarized article by Weiner, who is also part of the Career Services Advisory Committee, is a good read for someone who wants to take charge of their career.

Through the AAPS Career Fair, which always offers many opportunities for members to meet and speak with hiring managers from multiple pharmaceutical companies, I learned about the job market and even the expectations of employers by interacting with hiring managers and other scientists face-to-face. The résumé review program at the AAPS Career Fair also provided in-depth feedback on résumés by giving an opportunity to interact face-to-face with experts from industry or academia.

AAPS further supports students through various grants and fellowships. This year, my research poster was selected for a travelship award, which will assist with my travel expenses. Because of this travelship, I will be able to attend the annual meeting and reap the professional development and networking opportunities available. Another great resource is the monthly online publication of AAPS Career Success. The article Securing an Internship gave me insight into the importance of an internship and the needed mindset to secure an internship position in the industry. The insights in the article, along with the soft skills, résumé review, and volunteer experiences at AAPS, have helped me to secure a few internships in the industry, which ultimately helps me to achieve my career goals.

As an active AAPS member, I’ve also learned various skills that contribute toward my overall personality as a team leader. Presently, I am an editor for the Newsletter Committee and the AAPS Blog Committee representative for the Physical Pharmacy and Biopharmaceutics section. Further, I volunteer as an active Steering Committee member for the Targeted Drug Delivery and Prodrug focus group. My experiences in these volunteer roles help me continue to grow professionally.

Rakesh Gollen is currently pursuing his Ph.D. from Long Island University, with a major in Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, under the supervision of David Taft, Ph.D. His research focus is on the predictions of pharmacokinetic parameters in special population, using the physiologically based pharmacokinetics modeling approach.