Three Keys to Success for Pursuing a Career in the Biopharmaceutical Industry

Pharmacy CareersSpring 2024
Volume 18
Issue 01

Building a network, finding your passion, and taking steps to transition into an industry professional can help lead PharmD graduates to success.

There are several avenues that PharmD graduates can take to pursue a full-time career in the biopharmaceutical industry. Building a network of industry colleagues, finding your passion in a specific functional area, and taking important steps to transition into an industry professional are key factors to help you succeed in landing your desired role. In this article, you will find advice on how you can leverage each of these steps to jump-start your career in the industry.

White medicine tablets antibiotic pills; pharmacy, biopharmacy | Image Credit:  zadorozhna -

Image Credit: zadorozhna -

1. Building a Network

Navigating the biopharmaceutical industry demands a strategic and thoughtful approach to networking. To ensure that you forge and sustain a robust network that will open new doors for your career, consider optimizing your online and in-person networking opportunities.

  • Optimizing LinkedIn utilization: First and foremost, harness the power of LinkedIn, a readily accessible networking tool. Craft a compelling LinkedIn profile that showcases your educational background, skills, and aspirations. Forge connections with professionals in the pharmaceutical sector, including alumni from your alma mater, and actively participate in relevant groups to stay informed on industry developments. Don’t hesitate to initiate cold messaging on LinkedIn to organize one-on-one conversations with professionals. Approach your LinkedIn written interactions as a numbers game, recognizing that not every outreach may yield a response. However, the more individuals you engage with, the higher the likelihood of finding someone willing to connect.
  • The value of in-person networking: Secondly, immerse yourself in conferences, seminars, and other in-person networking events associated with the industry. These platforms offer opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations, enhance your visibility, and exchange contact details. Although in-person interactions are traditionally favored, today’s hybrid landscape allows for both face-to-face and virtual connections. Following any networking chat or event, promptly express gratitude through a thank-you email or text. In an industry where relationships hold significant value, this simple yet impactful follow-up plays a pivotal role in cultivating a lasting professional network.

Regardless of your chosen networking method, always prioritize the quality of connections over sheer quantity.

2. Finding Your Place in the Industry

The next step to building your career in the biopharmaceutical industry is exploring which type of role is most suitable for you.

  • Finding your function: There is a great variety of functional areas within the industry, including medical affairs, regulatory affairs, pharmacovigilance, commercial, market access, health economics and outcomes research, and clinical development. In each functional area, PharmD graduates can pursue several different types of positions based on key interests. Once you gain experience in a certain functional area, there may be opportunities to grow vertically by promotion or transition horizontally to other roles of interest.
  • Discovering your therapeutic interest: Once you have discovered which functional area sparks your interest, the next consideration is therapeutic area. Whether you are a clinical pharmacist with a specialized focus in cardiology or a current student with a keen interest in neurology, you can search for industry roles that align with your specialty or interests. Additionally, you may have the opportunity to work in several therapeutic areas, enabling you to expand your clinical knowledge beyond your current scope.

No matter where you start, your initial role will allow you to learn the important fundamentals of the industry that are necessary for success in any position.

3. Transitioning to an Industry Professional

Interest in pursuing a career in the biopharmaceutical industry has steadily increased among students and practicing pharmacists in recent years. Be mindful that there are a few factors that should be taken into consideration when transitioning into the industry.

  • Location matters. Most traditional pharmacist roles are available nationwide. Industry companies within the United States are primarily concentrated in cities; these centralized locations are commonly referred to as “pharma hubs.” These hubs are primarily located either in the Northeast or West Coast. Some of these key locations include cities in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California. It is important to be aware that some positions may require relocation. Fully remote positions may be an option.
  • Nontraditional career pathway. Another aspect to consider when transitioning to the industry is the nontraditional career pathway. Whether you are a current clinical pharmacist, a community pharmacist, or a recent PharmD graduate, industry contains individuals with various work experiences. There are several steps that you can take to become an industry professional, whether it’s through a full-time position or a postdoctoral PharmD fellowship. Although completing an industry fellowship may be advantageous, it is not a requirement to jump-start your career in industry.

About The Authors

Christina Miller, PharmD, RPh; Saira Jatoi, PharmD; and Tho Dao, PharmD, are fellows affiliated with the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Biopharmaceutical Industry Fellowship Program. Miller and Dao specialize in global medical communications and global medical affairs. Jatoi is focused on global value, access, and pricing.


Ultimately, the industry is an exciting career pathway that provides an opportunity for PharmD graduates who wish to pursue a nontraditional role. Remember to be open-minded, optimistic, and resilient throughout your journey toward landing an industry position. The 3 keys to success described above will be useful as you take this next step in your pharmacy career.

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