Woohoo! You got an interview! 🙂 But wait, this is your dream school 5 states away…what do you do?
I’ve personally had these exact thoughts when I got my interview for the school I’m now attending. I was in Kentucky at the time, and my school was in Pennsylvania.
In this article, I’m going to share with you the advice I was given when having to travel for an interview! (And some of my personal advice! 🙂
The Planning Stages:
Is it Possible to Drive?
First things first – map out a driving plan. Is it a reasonable drive? Are there toll roads? Is the city easy to navigate?
This step will take some research on your part, but it can also significantly save you the money spent on a plane ticket.
Two of my schools I was able to drive to, but the other two I did have to purchase a plane ticket for. Thankfully, for the two that I had to fly, I was able to take a shorter flight home and then drive the rest of the way, which brings me to my next point:
Can You Shorten the Flight?
Now, I don’t mean take a shorter flight to the middle of nowhere, but if you’re able to fly to where a family member/friend lives, maybe you can borrow a car and drive the rest of the way?
This, of course, will greatly depend on the costs of the flights, if you have friends/family near by, etc. Regardless, my point is to try and consider all of you options – be creative!
This includes bugging family members for their free travel points with certain airlines 🙂 You can also check out the sites below for cheaper flight options:
Is Carpooling an Option?
I remember when I was applying to pharmacy schools, my friends and I talked about it all the time! Did any of you apply to the same schools?
If so, what about carpooling?! It’d be a fun road trip, you could both get your interviews done, and you’ll have a friend to explore the city with – trust me, it makes it less scary! 🙂
If that’s not an option for you, what about a family member? Even if you have to stay in a hotel, most come with two beds anyhow, and again, you’ll have someone to explore the city with.
Yeah, I know….it’s rough. I try and explain this in a way similar to PCAT prep materials.
You want to get into a good school, right? So you save up for months and purchase PCAT prep materials to help you succeed.
You take the PCAT and apply, and now you have an interview halfway across the country at your dream school. I was in a similar situation, and I even had to work around undergrad exam schedules (not fun!) but it’s doable!
I know it’s doable because I’ve done it 🙂 I honestly didn’t want to pay for the flights and put all this money on my credit card, but I chose to.
I chose to because it’s for my future success as a pharmacist. There are certain things that happen in one’s life where you need to make sacrifices in order to get to where you want to go.
This can be applied to virtually any career situation. If you’re running into problems with finances, please contact the school! They understand you are all students and may not have the money to spend. They gave you that interview because they want you there and want to make sure you’re a good fit.
They honestly may be able to help you in certain situations or give you helpful advice on the cheapest options 🙂 it truly never hurts to ask!
Before You Get There, Be Sure To…
- Make reservations at a hotel that’s closer to the school rather than to the airport
- The reason I suggest this, is just in case you’re running a little late the morning of your interview. (Trust me, it happens sometimes!) It’s better to plan in advance for this even if it doesn’t actually happen.
- Be sure that Lyft or Uber services, or any kind of public transportation, is available between the airport and your hotel
- If you’re driving, be sure to figure out your parking situation on campus
- Verify that the hotel has room service, a restaurant attached to it, or is in a location where a lot of businesses deliver
- Many of my interviews were scheduled for the entire day, meaning there was: a student panel to ask questions, an introduction, an overview of the school, a campus tour, the interview itself, etc.
- When you get home that day, you may not have the energy to get out on the town and find a place for dinner (it’s happened to me more than once!) hence, why you want food to come to you 🙂
- If you can, plan to arrive a day in advance or stay a day later (this works especially well if you have your interview on a Saturday!)
- This will ensure you have time to explore 🙂 (see section below!)
When You Get There…
- Plan out your interview day
- I’m an organizer and need to know my schedule for the day → especially for something as important as getting into pharmacy school
- Have you ever tried Google Calendar? You can plan out your day in time increments and even download the app to have your schedule on your phone! 🙂
- I planned out my day well in advance, either before I left, or I would get to the city early and use that extra time to relax, plan my interview day, and calm my nerves
- Leave early!!
- This is so important → the morning/day of your interview, if there is one thing you take away from this blog post, remember to leave early!
- It does not matter if you arrive an hour early for your interview. Take that time to walk around the building/campus, find where you need to report to, or even find some pharmacy students to ask some questions.
- Always plan for the worst traffic imaginable. It’s better to do this than to arrive late to your most important interview!
This is one of the most important pieces of advice that I can give — explore! Now, this doesn’t mean go out for a night on the town, but literally walk around the campus and its surrounding community.
If you’re going to be spending the next 3 to 4 years on this campus, you should probably try and explore to make sure it’s the perfect fit for you! Plus, you may see other pharmacy students, and that’s always a chance to ask them questions 🙂
Now that you’ve heard some of my advice about traveling for interviews, I’d love to hear some of yours! Please comment below and share you thoughts/ideas/concerns and how you handled them 🙂
Please also join our PCAT Study Group on Facebook, here! We’d love to hear your advice there, too!
Kimberly A. Hill, Student Pharmacist Class of 2020
“I am a student pharmacist who is passionate for patient care, an advocate for interprofessional collaboration, an aspiring clinician, a promoter of the legislation to recognize pharmacists as providers, and I will faithfully and passionately serve my community and future generations of pharmacists in all ways possible.”