It’s 3 am in Iowa City, and I’m boarding a MegaBus to Chicago. I haven’t slept. It’s 9:30 am, and my bus arrives in Chicago. My mom picks me up, and we’re home by 10 am. I finally get some sleep. At 12:30 pm, I start my drive to Ann Arbor, and I arrive at 5:30 pm (I’ve lost an hour in the time change). I check in at the Michigan League and ask the receptionist where I should eat. She recommends five local places; I end up at Panera. I walk around campus and visit the infamous Law building that I’ve been told was almost Hogwarts.
I walk around listening to Taylor Swift’s new single, “Out of the Woods,” and try to imagine myself as a student on this campus. I walk to the College of Pharmacy so that I’m ready for the next morning. I’m back at The League by 7:30 pm and asleep by 8.
The next day feels like I’m going in slow motion, but I remember it in a haze. Wake up, shower, put on a suit, struggle with the top button of my dress shirt because my neck grew since I wore the shirt last, walk over to the College of Pharmacy and arrive thirty minutes early for my interview, interview process from 9 am – 2:30 pm, drive back to Chicago, catch a MegaBus and arrive in Iowa City at 3 am, get in bed by 4 am, wake up for class at 9:30.
Was I even in Ann Arbor? Did I really just have my interview at the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy?
The answer is yes. Yes, I did, and there a couple of things I wish I’d known, things I wish I’d done, and the selfie that got away.
If I could go back, I would…
- Take more pictures. As an out-of-state student, this was my first time in Ann Arbor. After I got in, friends and family asked for pictures that I simply couldn’t provide because I hadn’t taken any. I felt nervous walking around campus; I thought people would somehow know I didn’t belong yet. Newsflash: no one will think that. I’m betting no one will even notice you, so go ahead and be touristy. This could be your future home in less than a year’s time.
- Not eat at Panera. Ask your contact from Pharmacy Student Ambassadors what an Ann Arbor staple is and go there. My personal recommendation: Zingerman’s Deli.
- Ask my Pharmacy Student Ambassadors contact a lot of questions. Seriously, just ask questions. It won’t be hard for them to respond to your emails, and it will help alleviate your stress. They are in no way affiliated with your interview status, so don’t be afraid to ask those pressing questions.
- Do a little research on my interviewers. You’ll receive your list the week of your interview, and you can find them on the University of Michigan staff and student directory. Tailor the questions you bring to their fields. If your faculty member works in Infectious Disease, do some quick research on what that entails. Be prepared to ask more than, “could you tell me a little bit about infectious diseases?” It will get awkward quick.
- Enjoy the free lunch and RELAX! The interview’s done, and you’re sitting with your fellow interviewees and current students. Unbutton that suit jacket; take off your glasses that you wear to look smart but you really only need for reading or driving (me); don’t worry about how much food you’re eating or if you spill your water (me). The stressful part is over.
- Have fun, and be yourself! Now, before you write that off as the single most cliché thing to be spoken by anyone ever, think of it this way: the College of Pharmacy will be interviewing almost 200 students by the time all is said and done. Do you want to be remembered as the stiff, scripted candidate that lacked personality? Or do you want to be the candidate that personalized their responses, smiled, provided genuine stories, and had a life outside of being a student? I think we both know what the answer to this question is.
- Know that this interview will be a success no matter what the outcome. If you don’t get in, it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be a pharmacist. It doesn’t mean that you’re any less great of a person. Learn from this experience, and be diligent about your own self-growth. Take it from someone who never planned on getting a Bachelor’s, who never planned on leaving their undergraduate institution, who got waitlisted for two years at another institution before being accepted at Michigan (me).
- Take. A. Selfie. This is especially important for out-of-staters. When you get your email the following Friday, you’re going to want to Facebook/Tweet/Instagram. Have a selfie ready. This is the selfie I wish I’d taken.
Below, you’ll find some current pharmacy student responses to the question: “what do you wish you knew before Pharmacy School?”
“For your own sanity, learn how to organize your school/life balance before deciding to become a pharmacy student.” – Austin Brown, Class of 2017
“One thing I wish I had done before pharmacy school was shadow a wider variety of pharmacists to better understand the different career opportunities available in the profession.” – Lisa Chen, Class of 2017
“Something I wish I knew before pharmacy school is to never be afraid to ask for help or guidance. It will only make you better.” – Ruixin Shi, Class of 2016
“Don’t get so caught up with school work and have fun. Enjoy non-pharmacy activities and hang out with friends more because those are the memories you’ll cherish.” – Stephanie Yang, Class of 2018
“I wish I would have known how to cook better so I could prepare more meals in advance…and not end up eating pizza at meetings every lunch.” – Tyler Fenton, Class of 2017
– Kevin Sparks, Class of 2019