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Univerisity of Illinois at Chicago
Exploring Professional Experience Opportunities through a Student Showcase

College Connection

by Kelsey Bridgeman, P3, Professional Practice Chair; Jane McCullough, P3, Co-Fundraising Chair, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Each Fall semester at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, our ICHP student chapter hosts an Internship/Externship Showcase geared towards first-year pharmacy students. This event allows students to explore various job opportunities and learn about the different positions held by their peers. While we have included students representing various institutions in the past, this year our participant group was expanded. To focus on alternative opportunities, we included more health-systems from across the greater Chicagoland area. We also broadened our focus to advertise for opportunities available to second and third-year students as some programs are limited to first-year applicants only. The showcase was moved to the school’s main lobby from its normal conference room to attract a higher volume of interested students and provide more space.

This year, twenty-eight students were stationed at booths around the room with informational handouts for their respective programs during lunch hour. Student Externs from UI Health represented the UIC Drug Information Group. Inpatient and outpatient services including unique areas such as specialty and oncology clinic pharmacies were also represented. Other health-systems included Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. Several new additions this year were the inclusion of research-focused programs. These programs included the UIC Pharmacy Fellowship program, the Pediatric Oncology Education Program from St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and industry opportunities from Abbvie, Astellas Pharma, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals. The showcase attracted approximately sixty students who were eager to learn more about the participating opportunities and programs and hear first-hand accounts of various work experiences. 

The showcase serves to benefit both presenters and attending students. Professional work experience is a necessary and important part of development throughout pharmacy school, and work is a source of accomplishment and pride for many students. The showcase provides an opportunity for students to speak confidently about their work, gain familiarity with presenting to a group of their peers, and represent their institutions. In addition, this showcase provides the unique opportunity for students to discuss their experiences balancing work and school. For students seeking job opportunities, the showcase allows them to learn about different positions and also to ask questions regarding the application process, job responsibilities, and skills gained from the experience. Overall, students may use the information gained at this event to compare different pharmacy workplace environments and make well-informed decisions when pursuing positions. 

As a recurring event offered by our student chapter at UIC, this showcase continues to benefit students each year. For students currently holding positions, this is a highly anticipated event in which they can share their experiences, hard work, and insights with their peers. In turn, this enthusiasm on the part of the presenters attracts students to attend or participate in subsequent years. This program serves as a valuable resource for information and perspective beyond what is available on most websites or brochures. As we continue to develop this initiative, we hope to further encourage participation by our members within the student chapter, as well as sparking interest in involvement with ICHP outside of the College of Pharmacy.

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