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Podcast Transcript: Joey Calandra - former Director, Strategic Partnerships & Engagement at PSA and current Innovation leader

05 Joey Calandra   Episode Art 1000x500

Welcome to Your Pharmacy Career Podcast, proudly brought to you by Ravens Recruitment, Australia's leading specialist pharmacy recruitment agency. The podcast series is being created to shine a light on the diverse and inspiring careers of Australia's pharmacists. Each episode will focus on the varied career opportunities within the pharmacy industry by exploring the career paths taken by leaders in the fields of Community Pharmacy, Hospital, Industry, Government and Professional Organizations. Careers never follow a defined path. Everyone's story is different and unique in their own way. The podcast series will help you discover the world of opportunities that exist and reveal pathways to achieve your dreams and aspirations. Whether you are a pharmacy student, early career pharmacist, or simply looking for a change at any stage of your career, the podcast series is designed to help you navigate ways into a career and a life that you love. Your host of the podcast series is Allie Xu. Allie, herself a pharmacist, is now the founder of Global Pharmacy Entrepreneurs and a passionate advocate for pharmacists to grow, innovate, excel, and make a lasting impact in the world. It's now over to our host, Allie Xu.

[Allie Xu] Hi Joey, how are you? Welcome to Your Pharmacy Career Podcast.

[Joey Calandra] I'm really excited to be here. Thanks for having me.

[Allie Xu] Great. You have this amazing pharmacy career and his career path and we’re really interested to know and learn more about you as a person, your personal inspiration journey as well as as a professional in a pharmacy pathway. So tell us about yourself, where did you grow up? And why did you do pharmacy?

[Joey Calandra] I grew up in Melbourne, and I grew up in an area with lots of migrants. So my parents were not native speakers of English. They came from Italy after the Second World War. And I loved growing up in a really traditional household because I love food and my mom was a great cook, and still is. And I was a bit of a nerd. And I'll be honest, I still am. I love being a nerd. I love learning, and I've always loved learning. And throughout my school years, I was really good academically. And my parents didn't push me per se, but because they didn't have opportunities in education because of the situation they're in, they always said, “You should really focus on getting an education.” So I did. Why did I fall into pharmacy? That's a good question. I think when I was five, I wanted to be a fire engine, like the truck, not a fireman. [Laughing] And then as I grew up, I loved acting and presenting. And I also loved science because it was the evidence behind everything. Like I was like, “Oh, how does that work? What does that do?” And I didn't see myself in a research position, I suppose. So I thought, “Oh, pharmacy you know, it's cool, you know, you get to deal with people, and it's all about medicines.” And my older sister was a pharmacist so I did some placement with her at the rural Children's Hospital. I thought, “This is cool.” And so that's how I ended up in pharmacy. Although, I didn’t get into pharmacy straight out of high school. I didn't get enough points. I think I got 90-something, whatever, I can’t remember.

[Allie Xu] UC exam.

[Joey Calandra] Yeah, I didn't get enough. I got 90-something and it was 90-something else. So I did a year at science, I think science at Monash and Clayton and then I transferred to pharmacy school.

[Allie Xu] Yeah. So where did you do your internship?

[Joey Calandra] That was — I remember talking to Alan about this before we discussed the podcast. It’s quite interesting, because I recall back, we had a conversation that a lot of students are devastated when they don't get the intern position that they really want. And I remember going through university, that it was almost hospital placements were put on a pedestal. Like —

[Allie Xu] Mmm, yeah. 

[Joey Calandra] — you think in pharmacy the hospital position is like the best you can be. So, you know, we're all excited, we want to go into hospital. And I think I had interviewed for — it must have been Monash because that was the closest one to mom and dad. Let's say Monash Medical Center. Ii might be wrong, Allie, but it was definitely one of those big teaching moments because it would’ve been a great opportunity. And I didn't get in, so I was devastated. I was so upset. But at the same time I had a part time job in a pharmacy for about two years. I think I really loved that. I used to work on weekends as like a floor assistant or retail assistant, pharmacy type assistant. And after I didn't get into hospital, I called my boss and I said “Do you have an intern position at the pharmacy where I was working in Cheltenham?” And he said yes. And so I did my internship at a retail community pharmacy. It had really long hours. It was open till 8am until 10pm, seven days a week. But it was a really great learning experience.

[Allie Xu] Mmm, wow. ‘Cause your career expands academia, community, pharmacy, and member organization industry and you traveled overseas. So try to take us back.

[Joey Calandra] Allie, for those students listening, I'm old. So there’s been many, many years of me doing different things. And I don’t think it's amazing. I just took opportunities when I saw them and really tried to make what was out there. Oh my gosh, so after my internship, I'll always remember this. So I finished, I got registered. I was like, “Yeah, I passed!” And to be honest, I was dealing with some personal stuff because I was a gay man and I hadn't come out to anyone except myself. And literally — I don't know how this happened — the day after I passed my registration exam, my sister comes and asks me if I was gay. And I said, “I think I am.” And then the whole world turned upside down. And so I had to deal with kind of realizing who I was and being proud of that. And then literally two weeks after that, my boss said, “We're moving the manager from the pharmacy. He's buying a new store. We want you to manage this store.” So two weeks, I'd been a pharmacist and I was managing a store of 80 staff. Let me tell you, it was a big learning curve, both personally and professionally in that two years. So I did that for two years, I think. And I pretty much worked a lot. Worked seven days a week many times because I was really keen to try and make the most of the opportunity that my boss gave me to show that I could really step up and learn about running a business. And I think the biggest thing I learned was the people are your biggest asset and working out what matters to them and how to get everyone to work together really well. Because I think as a young — you think you're expected to know everything when you get a management role, but you're not. The biggest thing I had was be open, be really open to learning and then applying that. But also — I guess I grew up, Allie, with a really strong work ethic. So very conscientious, always try to do the best work, make sure everything was done before I left. And I think that's put me in good stead the whole way. And that boss at the time, his name was Alan Feil, he's passed away since. And he ended up being one of my first mentors. Taught me a lot about business. I confided in him that I was going through some personal issues about being gay back then and he was really supportive, so I was lucky to have a great mentor.

[Allie Xu] Mmm. Yeah, so what are some of the lessons that you learnt from Alan, from your mentor that you carry on throughout your career that really help you to develop.

[Joey Calandra] Good question. I have to think about that one. Yeah, so Alan was always, “You have to understand that your customers are — you're there for them.” And so he was always about establishing a really good relationship with the people that walk in the door, and then trying to make even more people walk in the door by going out in the community. And so I always loved, used to go out and talk to other communities or the local GP or physio. We had quite a nice connection with healthcare professionals in the area. That you need to make sure that the bottom line is good. And so he taught me a lot of business acumen that I didn't know when I kind of start out. Because in pharmacy school, you learn all this clinical stuff. And then we learned a little bit around management, but not much. And so he really taught me a lot about cash flows and business management and stock control, and how to negotiate with deals with different suppliers and who's who. So I really knew how to navigate the community pharmacy system, the supply chain, how to get the best deal for the pharmacy. We also talked a lot about human resources. So Alan definitely taught me a lot around running a business, both from a professional standpoint, from a business standpoint, and from managing a people standpoint. It was really great.

[Allie Xu] Mhm. So I really want to, like, give the full scope from where you were starting from pharmacy, working in pharmacy, and now you moved to what you're doing now. Tell us more, what are you working on right now?

[Joey Calandra] [Laughing] So the other side of the coin of 20 years later. So right now, I work for an organization called Inventium. And we are a science-based innovation behavioral science consultancy. So all that means, like I have this title, which is quite bizarre, but quite cool at the same time. My role is called an inventiologist. It's just kind of our kooky way of saying “Inventium scientist”. So we basically, we look at all the latest research from the top tier academic journals from around the world and then we translate that into really practical tools to help people either innovate, become more productive, more focused, more engaged at work, help companies build innovation strategies, build capabilities in their teams around innovation. And so it combines my love of inspiring people like to really learn more in a really engaging way, but also everything that's based on empathy, so always putting people first, and evidence. So what actually — there's no rubbish, like when I teach what's not true. And I think that was ingrained from the pharmacy education where everything is based on the events. So that's what I'm doing now [laughing].

[Allie Xu] Wow, interesting. When I first saw, I’m like, “Was that a new specialty that’s coming out that I don’t know about?”

[Both laughing]

[Allie Xu] Wow. So, you know, what you’re doing now is different to a traditional pharmacist role, but what are some of the skills that you're still using, you know, from the pharmacy world that you gained from working as a pharmacist? 

[Joey Calandra] That's a good question. I like that question. The first one would definitely be communication skills and empathy. So, particularly in a community pharmacy setting, and you get really good at trying to use good communication skills to put yourself in the shoes of the people that you're working with, to understand what is going on, really get what the situation is. So that could be either in the pharmacy itself, when you're talking to people, when you’re visiting people in their homes either to chat with them, or do a medication review, for example — you get really good at understanding what's important for them and how to help them. And that's been incredibly valuable in this role where it's the same principle, where you really use empathy to understand — what is that customer's real need? What's their frustration? And then you work backwards using like a best practice innovation process that we follow, to then work out, “Okay, how do we come up with some really great ideas to solve for that particular challenge?” And then, “How do you quickly and cheaply test those using Lean Startup methodology?” And so empathy is definitely bigger. My ability to understand research and science has been really valuable so I can literally trawl through lots of research papers and kind of learn them quickly, and also the power of people. So either as a manager or leader, managing people as part of a team, working collaboratively, has all been really important. So I don't think the pharmacology skills around ACE inhibitors is as important right now, but it's the other skills that you learn along the way. 

[Allie Xu] Yeah, yeah. All the relationship networking skills and communication and empathy. Yeah. So as a pharmacy student, I guess, if we're in our third year or fourth year, or even second year, we want to start prepare a successful pharmacy career. What are some of the advice or skills that we need to gain, you know, apart from what we talked about earlier?

[Joey Calandra] That’s a good question, Allie. if I cast my mind back to being a student, I think for me, it was in the fourth year. I did this bizarre course, I think it was five years, and it was the first four year plus intern course. Before me, it was three years plus intern. So we had this weird mix of stuff. But I was in my third or fourth year, when they started to introduce Clinical Pharmacy, where you kind of bring all this pharmacology and physiology and biochemistry knowledge together in real practice with real people. And that's when I fell in love with it. Because I realized, “Oh my God, I've got this cool knowledge and it can help people.” And so fall in love with trying to use the skill that you're learning to help people because you will. I think often, as students, we get stuck in just learning, “Oh I've got to pass the exam, what's the 10 side effects of this drug.” It's more than that. It's — what you’re learning actually has a huge capacity to help people and save people's lives. And you will do that. So if you can't fall in love with that after a few years of working, then maybe consider how else you can use the skills that you learn, and then start to explore options. So if you're loving what you're doing and applying that every day, then do it. And if not, not every day is not going to be a bed of roses. It's dealing with the public. That's hard. You're gonna have to deal with drug seeking behavior, which is a unique thing around medical professionals. That's hard. But it's around kind of learning as much as you can and trying to help people and that'll take you in good stead, I think. 

[Allie Xu] Hmm. And I know that you said earlier, open to opportunities, and you had a lot of different opportunities throughout your career. Can you tell us a bit more about what are some of them will communities you had and how did you get those opportunities?

[Joey Calandra] The first was moving to London. And I heard about that through some friends and networking. So I used to go to lots of events, either local events, or, you know, those kind of big conference type things. And I definitely recommend those because it's a great place to network and talk to people that you don't normally talk to. And it's interesting that you can learn so much from even people doing the same job as you but in a completely different store, or on Location. It's been quite great. And I found out that there was an opportunity for pharmacists to work in London, or England. There was a reciprocity. And so I always wanted to travel, like I'd love traveling. The first thing I did after I think I finished my intern year was travel for six months or something. And so after that, I applied and I went to London. And I was really lucky, I looked for lots of jobs over here, and I actually had some phone interviews while I was here in Australia. I had like four in the morning or something crazy, it was awful. But I got a job, so it's really exciting. And then, so in the first four weeks in London, I worked for a chain called ABC. There's about 20 pharmacies in London. And it was great. So I actually got a different pharmacy every three days for four weeks as part of my four week intern. I learned a lot. Also learned about different cultures and how to kind of move around London. I was like, I had no idea what I was doing. And then from there, I stayed on for about three years. And that was probably an incredible opportunity because at the time they were changing over it was called, “the white paper.” So they're pretty much changing community pharmacy to be more clinical-focused to respond to the local primary health care needs. And so you had to do all this kind of education. And I thought, “Oh my god.” Like this is me like I'm a nerd, right? I was like “Yes, I'm gonna dive into this.” And that's what we did things, I think they were called essential and advanced healthcare services and medicine usage reviews, which were kind of a basic medication review. And the services were things like we do here now in Australia, like diabetes and cardiovascular type services as well as smoking cessation. There was things that we ran around mental health. Basically it was determined on data from what was called primary care trusts. Which is kind of similar to primary health networks or Medicare Locals, but smaller, because London has a massive population. So small geography but still a massive amount of people there. And I get to travel around Europe, too, at the same time, which was great.

[Allie Xu] Wow. How amazing.

[Joey Calandra] I remember, I came back, the opportunity I took up was locuming regionally around Victoria. Because I got back and I was all kind of, “Yeah, I don't want to dive into something. You know, I'm young.” 

[Joey Calandra] And it was great. So for about, maybe a year, it was amazing. I got paid really well. You get to explore these rural communities. Often your role in some of those communities as a pharmacist is big. But there's no — I remember one, can’t remember where it was now, that like the GP came once a week. So part of my role was literally to kind of prioritize, like, “Oh, who needs to see the GP first, when she comes.” And so she would literally walk into the pharmacy on week two, because she realized I had this big list when she came the first time. And she was like, “Joe, okay, who do I need to see first?” And so it was really valuable. So people would — I’d stayed in pharmacist’s homes. I think that was a really great learning opportunity. I don't think you can do it forever, but in that year, I was able to travel around regional Victoria, and made some really great money at the same time. And so that was an opportunity I definitely took up. That was great. And then at that time, Alan said, “We want to start up a Priceline pharmacy.” And that was unheard of back in the day. Was like, “What? That's that corporate store that sells shampoo.” And so I said, “Yeah absolutely.” I put my hand up. Allie, that was a big learning curve, because they had no idea about pharmacy law. And I was trying to get them, I was like, “No, you can't decide to put, you know, Christmas gifts in front of the dispensary. There's a thing called a professional service area.” I was kind of, we worked out how to do it together. And that was a great learning curve as well. Also to get a different understanding of what a pharmacy business model could look like. So that was really good. Then I was asked to move to Sydney, and Soul Pattinson Chemist. I’m not even sure they're still around. They were rebranding and I was setting up a whole bunch of new stores. And so my job was to open up Greenfield sites. Again, big learning curve. I didn't know about New South Wales law, and what you need to do, like I was not prepared in dealing with builders and laborers and people building doors and hiring staff. But again, I put my hand up and I learnt along the way. And so that was a really great experience to give that a go. Then after that, I realized that maybe pharmacy was not something that I really loved doing in terms of the community setting. Because I was lucky enough to do one of the first ever, like community pharmacy programs back then. I think they were called diabetes medication assistance service, something like that. And I loved doing those components. And so then I got into — when I came back to Melbourne going to Monash University and teaching as part of the intern program, because I love the teaching component. And then I, from there, I got asked to work with the pharmacy guild and teach the pharmacy assistant program. I loved that. That was probably one of my favorite plots, because when you run a store, you realize that not only is the pharmacist important, but every single individual in that team is equally important. And so the way that you can educate and support each other makes a big difference. Oh my God, you making me go back. So I was there for a while. I was having my own personal journey. I got into fitness and I was teaching group fitness classes for a while. That was really fun. So I was kind of doing a whole bunch of stuff and then managing some pharmacies.

[Allie Xu] You were also involved with Victorian pharmacy authority from 2014 to 2019.

[Joey Calandra] Yes. So before there, what had happened was, because of all the things I was doing reeducation, I — actually, I'll tell you the story around talking to someone after I came back from the UK. And I said there's something wrong. Because we used to run a chlamydia testing service in my pharmacy in the UK. And I said. “For some reason, as pharmacists, we know nothing around sexual health. And we're supposed to healthcare practitioners.” I said, “I've learned more from the gay magazines that I used to read around sexual health than I ever had from any like pharmacy journal.” I said, “that's not right.” And I can’t remember who I was talking to, it was someone at the PSA and they said, “Oh, that's really interesting.” And literally two weeks later, they gave me a call and they said, “Oh, do you want to come and talk at a sexual health conference we're running?” And I was like, “Sure, why not?” And so from there I did a whole bunch of research on what was kind of important for people to understand. And it was about facts and fallacies. It was like that what people thought was true and what was actually true, so I kind of just cleared that up. And then that from there, I got asked to speak at one of their national conferences, and that got picked up by all the states. And so I went around Australia teaching around sexual health, particularly focused on the national kind of sexual transmissible infectious disease strategy and how pharmacists play a role. And then I got asked to apply for a job at PSA leading their professional development and I got it. And that was so much fun because you have to align with all these different states to kind of work out what's most important, like overall, leading to Australia's health priorities, but locally. And then from there, they said, “No, you're too kind of — you like talking to people, so we're not going to put you in-bound, you’re gonna go out.” So I started talking to governments and pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare providers to work out how we could do different programs. And I think the biggest one that I was most proud of was two. I think we launched the National HIV strategy to align with the World Health Organization. And so in 2015, HIV medicines became accessible through community pharmacies.

[Allie Xu] That’s you! Wow. 

[Joey Calandra] And that eventually led to some other stuff around prep, pre exposure prophylaxis, which is also available through community pharmacy years later.

[Allie Xu] Yeah.

[Joey Calandra] And we then led some new conferences at the PSA, which is called PSA —the first one was PSA 15. Where are we up to now? PSA 20, or whatever it is, I’m not sure. The last one I attended was PSA 19. I’m not sure if it went ahead this year, actually. And I love doing that., because you get an opportunity to get a bunch of people from around Australia together who are really passionate about it, and develop a program that not only built clinical skills, but talked about new services, and some other stuff that was happening around the world.

[Allie Xu] Yeah.  

[Joey Calandra] And so I really loved that. At the same time, I applied for a role because I thought, I've always wanted to be on a board. Like “I want to know what it's about.” I really want to understand what this board thing’s about. And so I applied for this role. And I researched everything around clinical governance and governance and skills. And so I looked like, when I went for this interview, I knew everything. But I only had been studying for about a week. And so I got this role. And that was really interesting to learn about the role of a regulator. So they existed to basically keep the public safe. And so that gave me some really good understanding of the importance of governance and overseeing companies as a people, as opposed to actually managing and leading. It’s overseeing the whole kind of strategic piece.

[Allie Xu] Yeah.

[Joey Calandra] And also dealing directly with health departments. That was interesting as well, both good and bad. And I got to meet some great people as well, like Steve Marty, who passed away a few years ago as well, along the way.

[Allie Xu] Wow, what an amazing journey. I think what I've learned from all that is you really are open to all opportunities. And then the thing is, that you're not afraid of trying, doing new things. You're not afraid of just stepping out and just do it. I think that's so important. And, you know, because these days, a lot of pharmacists or pharmacy students, we feel like we don't know enough, so we don't apply to things, so we don't reach out to people until we know enough of it. But I think it's the opposite of we need to approach this as. Just go for it and learn it along the way.

[Joey Calandra] Yeah. 

[Allie Xu] Oh, love it. Love it.

[Joey Calandra] Don't get me wrong, got lots of setbacks. So, like, I knew where I wanted to be. So I wanted to do something that was around either innovation or leadership. They're the two things that I'm passionate about. And so I knew I needed to do like an MBA program. So I did that. And after I finished that, I applied for maybe 10 different types of roles. And all of them like “No, no.” Like, you really get lots of knock backs. So you're gonna like, you get upset, then you pick yourself up and you go, “Okay, keep going.”

[Allie Xu] Okay.

[Joey Calandra] Yeah, so that's a good point.

[Allie Xu] Hmm. And I love your positive attitude. It's infectious. it's amazing. I think that's what we need is, “It's okay, like, we'll just keep going.” And we get knocked back, that's why we try something else. And so just keep going.

[Joey Calandra] Allie, that comes down to me, for a couple of things, you got to have a really good network of friends and family, and people that are true friends and family. And I've learned that over the years. I thought there were people that were good friends, and you learn over the years they're not. So, you know, that support. We also learned the value of mentors and coaches along the way. So Alan one for me. I then, when I was working in a pharmacy in another one in Cheltenham, I sought out a gentleman who was quite well known. I won't talk about who he is and I asked him to be my mentor, and he said, “Yes.” And then he actually said to me, after a year that he said, “you’ve outgrown me, you need to find someone else.” And so I've continued along that journey by having coaches and mentors. I even have a coach, her name’s Christine. She's amazing. She lives in Queensland now. She used to live here. So we still catch up regularly. And she does definitely help me along the way. I've been lucky enough to have my partner Russell. He's also a really good mentor as well, so that's been lucky. And also my dad is quite a clever, clever man in his time. And so I'm really lucky to have family and friends that are supportive. But what I recommend to students is definitely seek out some mentors. And if there are people that you like out there, approach them, talk to them, but really think about what it is you want from a mentorship.

[Allie Xu] Yeah, wow. That's a good point. I've spoken to many students and they feel frustrated as they don't know how to reach out to mentor. What they've done is cold email, cold call and say, Oh I’m a student. Oh, you are this amazing person, I want to learn from you.” And often they don't get a response or they don't feel that connect— they don't know how to connect. Can you give some insights of how do we do that?

[Joey Calandra] Right. The thing that I learnt is that you can't beat face to face. So you can see my spare bedroom right now, which has been my office for the past six and a half months. But you get used to it. So go out to events. So, if there are local lectures, or networking events, or conferences, go out and talk to people. And so my advice here, and this is what one of my mentors advised me when I went to my first big conference, he said, “Who do you want to go and meet?” And so I wrote the list down. He's like, “Okay, great. When you see them, what are you going to say?” I was like, “I don't know.” He goes, “Well work it out. Work out what you’re gonna say.” So you actually plan the events in advance. And I still do this today. Work out who are these you’re gonna maybe speak — who you want to speak to, why you want to speak to them, and what would be the best-case scenario of that outcome. And so I knew that I wanted to speak — there was five individuals at the first conference. And he helped me work out, “Okay, well, so you want to see Allie. What do you want to talk to Allie about? Why is that important?” And so for me, I'm very personable. I can go straight up to them and say, “Oh my God, you're Allie, I love your podcast,” and we talk about it. And so that's the way I've always done, I’ve always prepared. So in everything that you do, you need to be ready to have a conversation, know who it is. And so if nothing happens from that moment, they know who you are. “Oh yet, I met Allie, she was really cool, very entrepreneurial.” And so if you reach out to them again, they'll know who you are. Likewise, when you use formal platforms like LinkedIn, get specific about what you are, who you are, what you want, and why you think that that person should offer their time. Because everyone's time poor.

[Allie Xu] Yeah.  

[Joey Calandra] And don't be afraid to get — what's the term that people use — ghosted. Or, like, don't be afraid that you don't get a response.  

[Allie Xu] Yeah.

[Joey Calandra] And that's okay. Don't take offense, it's probably that person just thought, “Oh that’s nice,” and didn't respond ‘cause they’re too busy.

[Allie Xu] Yeah, yeah.

[Joey Calandra] Don't take offense. And don't think that it has to be a high profile person to be a valuable mentor, either. So it could be someone in a local club, whatever it is, if you play badminton or something. Like really look out for people that you think, “I really like the way they talk to people, advise people, I like the way they do that.” And even just, you can, you know, go out for a cup of coffee or go for a walk. And there's also some really great mentoring opportunities out there as well, depending on what you're after. So Google it, you might find things. So I'm interested in becoming a mentor now for the pinnacle Foundation. I'm still going through the process, and that helps young LGBTI kids in need. Scholarships for schools and things and you help them kind of get back on their feet. And so you can look for those kinds of things in your area as well.

[Allie Xu] Yeah, that's awesome. Wow, thank you. That's like insight. Thank you, thank you. Were there anywhere along your career that if you restart your career again, would you do something differently? Was there anything that you think could have changed it or done better?

[Joey Calandra] That's a good question. I probably — no. No. I've always loved furniture, maybe I could be a furniture designer.

[Both laughing]

[Joey Calandra] No, the thing that I would change is that — don't think that you are always in the right. So I remember believing some stuff, and when I met this person once I said, “Oh my god, how can you work for this organization or corporation?” And it was only because someone, you know, there was a popular belief for a group of people that thought a certain way, so I believed that. I always think my own lesson would be meet the person and get to know who they are. And the organization they work for is not always what you think. So just be open. And don't judge people based on what other people think is true or those kind of things. That's probably been my biggest learning. I remember those two occasions, I won't talk about them here, where I thought, “Oh, in hindsight, that was a really silly, naive thing to do.” You never know. Both personally in terms of my value set, I didn't feel right. You know, when it doesn't feel right in your gut. But also professionally, those people are going to be someone that you might bump into a work with or network within the future. So you want to make sure that — who was that boss, I think it was one of my bosses in London said, “Never burn your bridges. Always keep them open.” Which is really valuable. Even if you've worked somewhere — let’s say as a student, you work somewhere part time, and you really couldn't stand someone in there, don’t tell them that when you leave. Just go, “Oh it was nice to work with you, thank you for the opportunity,” and off you go. Because you want to make sure that you leave on good terms, never on bad terms.

[Allie Xu] Wow, good advice. Another question I have is, you do a lot of networking. How would you advise, you know, student — you know, now we know how to go up and ask and what to ask people. But in terms of networking, how can we connect when as a student we feel like we don't have a lot to give back? And you know, we feel like in networking, we have to give people valuable things for exchange. But we don't have any. We’re a student, we don’t know any, we want to learn. What's the best way to keep networking and build relationships? What's your advice on that?

[Joey Calandra] Well, first is your mindset, you have lots to give. And so, I think in networking, networking with other students is equally as important as networking with people that are already working. In terms of pharmacists or other likewise are really valuable because these people will be your friends throughout your work life. If you get involved with your student bodies and go to those national events, you get to meet a whole bunch of different students from different areas around Australia. And they will be the people that will grow with you in your career. And if you establish a great networking group as a student, that will put you in good stead in the future. Because they'll get jobs and they'll get promoted in different areas and you can keep those connections alive. So networking with students is equally as valuable. Networking with students outside of pharmacy is really important because sometimes in any industry, you get fed information specific to pharmacy, right? Like it's all pharmacy services and so it's really great to take your blinkers off and be open to what's happening out in the world, because it's something that you'll then use back in whatever career that you choose to do. So I learnt about a program where people would — diabetes educators would take their patients to the supermarket to go and educate on what things to buy in terms of food And I thought, why don't we do that in the pharmacy? So I did, I literally called this educator. I said, “Would you come and do this for a couple of my patients or my customers or clients.” And so literally in a week, I had 10 people sign up. Again, we paid for it, I don’t know how much. So those kind of things are good just to be exposed to different ideas. And what else was there? Networking. Definitely start with your students and outside your organization, and then go to the events where those people are. I personally love — I think it's a big core value of mine is meeting and learning from people. So the fact that I'm learning from you today, Allie, around Zencaster and how you do podcast is great. Because podcast has been a great way for me to learn. And my current founder and boss, she runs a podcast called “How I Work.” And that's got like a million subscribers or something crazy. So it's a great opportunity to learn from talking to different people. And so I’ve — it's one way to kind of get that diversity of thought.

[Allie Xu] Yeah, wow. Thank you. This great question a student asked is, “If I'm a student, I want to look for an intern position, and I really don't know where to start. And what's the best way to start? Or to look for an internship?” What's the advice if you have to counsel them or advise them?

[Joey Calandra] So Allie, you need to refresh me here because I've been out of the pharmacy education space for a while now. You still do student placements?

[Allie Xu] Yeah, we do student placement throughout uni.

[Joey Calandra] Okay, that is a golden opportunity. So when you're doing a student placement, that is your chance to shine. Not only in your knowledge, don't worry about your knowledge. That'll pick up, that's part of the experience. But be personable, be nice, get to know people, make an effort, because they're the people that you might go back to. And you thought, “Oh, I worked in that Terry White pharmacy in Walport,” I don’t know, I’m just gonna make it up. “They were really nice. Maybe I should apply there.” They know who you are already. The second thing I would recommend is to apply for a part time pharmacy assistant role because you get great experience, exposure, you get to know what all of the medicines are in front of the store, which you often don't get exposed to otherwise. And that can lead to an internship. And just be true to yourself. Just because other people think that hospital or community or industry is the best — you know, they're all the best — be true to yourself. So use those experiences as a student to say, “Oh, actually I really liked what I did in hospital.” And so give that a go. So those two things, use those student placements as golden opportunities and get a part time job to kind of get you exposed to those. And at one stage I remember I moved places and I was traveling quite a far distance. This was that time I was doing locuming and I wanted to start. So I literally went and dropped off my CV to like every pharmacy within like a 20 minute walking distance. I was like, “Oh, would be nice to work close.” Yeah, so just put yourself out there.

[Allie Xu] Yeah, yeah. Okay. Well, last question is if you can give one advice to our pharmacy students, you know, for the future to build a successful pharmacy career, what would it be?

[Joey Calandra] Care about what you do. Keep yourself open to opportunities. Actually make sure that you're proud of the work that you do every single day, because that will make you feel good. And that'll definitely be something that people around you will see. And don't think that a career is stuck by something that other people are doing. So I look at you, Allie, and I thought, “Oh my God, when I graduated like 100 years ago — what, podcasting?” And so you don't know what's out there. And I teach this now, that the jobs that will exist for those people going through high school don't exist today. And so keep learning, keep making sure that you stay on top of things, and the skills that you learn in pharmacy, you can use everywhere. In my time at the PSA, one of my roles was in strategic partnerships. And I was amazed. There was pharmacists working in the health insurance industry in banks, and primary health care networks, in government roles, literally in all these different roles. And kind of pharmaceutical wholesalers, in pharmaceutical companies and drug companies. Like there's so many cool pharmacists in that industry — I don't know if you guys get exposed to that in pharmacy college now — like so many. So there's lots of opportunities. So don't feel like you have to do community or hospital. There is a lot of opportunities out there and talking with lots of different students and networking really helps you work out what that is.

[Allie Xu] Mmm. Wow, wonderful. You're amazing. Thank you so much.

[Joey Calandra] My pleasure. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Your Pharmacy Career Podcast, proudly brought to you by Raven’s Recruitment, Australia's leading specialist pharmacy recruitment agency. If you enjoyed this episode and know anyone else who you think would benefit from it, we would be grateful if you could share it with them. Together, we help even more pharmacists develop a career and life they love. If you have any questions or suggestions about future podcast episodes, please reach out to us via email, info@ravensrecruitment.com.au.

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