Many students go through university worrying about the risk of unemployment after they have graduated. I too one was of these students, however qualifying in 2012 in the middle of a global recession meant I had to learn quickly to face my fear as there simply were no jobs!
Luckily for me, being a pharmacist meant I had the opportunity for self-employed locum work in community pharmacies. As a locum I was able to accrue experience of working across a vast network of pharmacies. It also provided me with the opportunity of a flexible income at a time when permanent employment was simply not an option. I certainly didn’t enjoy making the one hour commutes for work.
It was during my time working as a locum that I learnt that the main way of obtaining locum work was by travelling round a number of pharmacies and handing out your business card. This practice was based on the assumption that in the event of cover being needed, the manager would use your card details to contact you for availability. I simply could not believe that this archaic process still existed and why no company had solved this pain problem of matching pharmacists to employers.
So, I simply thought: Why not set one up?
Fast forward 4 years and Locate a Locum (www.locatealocum.com) helps over 1200 pharmacists and pharmacy owners connect with one another for both temporary and permanent work. Working with some of the largest pharmacy chains across Northern Ireland and the UK. Using my own experience of life after graduation, I have been able to help pharmacists carve out their own career paths.
And as I write this article I cannot help but stop to think, would things have worked out differently if I was able to obtain a permanent job straight after graduation? Most certainly-YES! There would certainly be no Locate a Locum and I would probably be unhappily working within said job and dreaming of starting my own business.
The aim of this article is not to promote entrepreneurship or being a pharmacist. Or to put students off heading straight into a permanent job if that is on your career path. However, as we approach the graduation period, I would like to remind students that sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you planned or wanted it to. But that’s life.
Behind every initial disappointment is a huge opportunity to make use of. Or easier put: As one door closes, another one opens. Make the most of what is in front of you.
Jonathon Clarke graduated from QUB in 2012 with a 1st Class Masters of Pharmacy (MPHARM). He is the Pharmacist Founder of Locate-a-Locum, an online platform connecting pharmacists with employers across the UK. Follow @Locatealocumnow.