September 1, 2010

One of the advantages of living in the Chicago area was that there was always something to do. To celebrate the end of the internship, a few friends from Wilkes road tripped out and we spent three days at Lollapalooza, one of the United State’s largest music festivals that takes place in Grant Park, downtown Chicago. Over three days, we experienced over 30 hours of live music and saw countless bands and acts, including Lady Gaga.

Because my apartment wasn’t located in the city, it was a bit of a trip to make it downtown and back three days in a row. For day one, we decided to take the Chicago Metra, which is basically the train and goes directly from my suburb to the downtown area. Normally, this trip takes about 45 minutes, but with the increased foot traffic from the festival and several construction zones, the time it took doubled. Day one we saw The Walkmen, Jukebox the Ghost, The New Pornographers, Matt & Kim, Hot Chip, and Lady Gaga. While Lady Gaga completely blew the audience away, it was Matt and Kim’s performance that blew me away. The entire act was filled with energy and was just plain fun, and you could tell the duo completely love what they do.

The great thing about the festival was that every day got better. Day two we saw Stars, The XX, Grizzly Bear, Metric, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and finally Phoenix. Seeing Edward Sharpe perform my favorite song of the summer, Home, was amazing. Unfortunately, one of my other recent great finds, The XX, left me a little disappointed. The headliners for the day were Phoenix and Green Day, but performed simultaneously on opposite sides of the festival so you could only choose one. Since I haven’t been a Green Day fan since their album Nimrod in the 90s, it was an easy choice to go with Phoenix. No regrets, they were phenomenal, and played every song on their new album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, which I considered my favorite album of 2009. My favorite act of the day probably goes to Metric, if only for the fact of how energetic Emily Haines was and how that transferred to the audience.

After the festival, my friends and I got on the subway and made out way up to Northwestern University where we had driven to and parked since taking the train took to long on the first day. While walking out of the train station with about forty other passengers, we unknowingly walked right into a gang fight where gunfire broke out. Yes, you read that right, gun fire. In a panic, the entire crowd began to run back into the train station, through the opposite doors, and continued running until we reached a hoard of police cars and officers. After the excitement died down, we reached the car and drove home,albeit a little shaken up.

Day three was by far my favorite day. Minus the Bear, Yeasayer, Frightened Rabbit, MGMT, The National, and Arcade Fire. Every act was consistently good, and the string of MGMT-The National-Arcade Fire were the best three acts I’ve experienced back to back ever. During The National, the frontman came out into the crowd to perform one of their most popular songs, Mr November, and was literally inches from me. Arcade Fire was the perfect close to a three day weekend, and ranked as one of my favorite acts of the entire festival (and topped the last time I saw them play in NYC two years ago). The crowd for MGMT was probably the rowdiest of the entire festival. Every 2 minutes I had to duck as more and more crowd surfers fell from the sky and almost toppled me.

All in all, it was a great ending to the Chicago experience, and although I still had a week of work left, the festival was really the peak of the summer and was by far the greatest music experience of my life. Enjoy the pictures posted.

I have one post left in me, as by now, I have already ended the experience and have started school again. Although Walgreens would have extended my stay longer, I had to be home to complete a two week hospital IPPE (Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience) for the last two weeks of August. My next post will be a final wrap up of the experience, and I’ll talk a little about my last rotation at corporate. Until then.


Case Study Competition

August 9, 2010

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” – Mark Twain

It feels appropriate to open with that quote, as it seemed that I completely abandoned this blog over the past month as if something happened to me. The truth is, something DID happen, but nothing bad. I have just been extremely inundated with an abnormal amount of work. It’s what I call spreading myself too thin, and not something that should happen in the summer when all I wanted to think about was laying next to the pool with a good book and relaxing. Over the past month, I continued working at my internship often beyond the normal hours of the day, started and finished a class at Northwestern in Latin American Politics, and started sailing lessons on Lake Michigan. I have been keeping track of all my activities, so even after the internship ends (which was supposed to be by now, but I got it extended), I will continue to write about many of my experiences this summer. I’m going to dedicate this whole post to the case study competition I was involved in over the past 6 weeks.

An intern tradition at Walgreens is the annual case study competition. Interns from across all the departments at corporate are separated out and assigned to six different teams, each consisting of six to seven participants. The four pharmacy interns were separated, so we all had our own teams. My team members consisted of interns from corporate analytics, purchasing, supply chain logistics, and vendor collaboration. Each team is given one week to come up with a topic or business initiative, and then we had five weeks to do research and put together a 30 minute presentation to present to a panel of judges. While there was a preselected list of topics, my team decided to go with the “Be Creative” route and make our own initiative and created new ways that Walgreens can advance their online pharmacy experience to drive health outcomes and patient adherence.

To add more work to the bucket, I agreed to be team captain and oversee the project from beginning to end and monitor the group’s progress. For six weeks, we had built in time during our work day that we were allowed to meet and contribute towards the project – about four hours a week for the first few weeks and then ten hours during the last week. The team with the best presentation would win a lunch with our CEO in the board room that I posted pictures of last month. Even though we were allotted hours during the day, my team went above and beyond and we really all contributed our own time and effort into making this presentation the best we could – after all, if we made it to the finals we would be presenting to some top executives in the company.

The day of the competition, the six teams were divided into three exhibition matches in the morning where we presented to two judges from areas throughout the company. The three winners would then advance on to the finals to present to a panel of four executives. My team must have practiced our presentation for hours the night before and morning of, so we were completely pumped and ready when we went into our first match. The team we were competing against went before us, and my team thought it was best not to arrive early to watch their presentation. Instead, we showed up exactly when they were ready for us and gave it our all. Although we had timed our presentation, we ended up exceeding the time limit and got cut off right before our last slide, making us nervous if this would affect the outcome at all. The last five minutes of the presentation is dedicated to questions that only the judges could ask. While they hit us hard, my team did an amazing job with answering questions and I was extremely proud of all of them.

After we presented, all six teams were invited to lunch where they would announce the three winners that would progress to the finals. You can only imagine how nervous everyone in the room was. While it was only a competition, I’m a very competitive person and I wanted to advance. After lunch, they began to announce the winners of each exhibition match………………AND WE ADVANCED! My team all breathed a sigh of relief as we then realized we had to do the entire presentation again, but this time in front of more people and higher executives. The three team captains that advanced all drew numbers from a jar to decide who would go first – and I drew the #1 spot. We presented again, and once again I felt as though my group did an amazing job. The questions got a little tougher, because we were presenting a high concept idea that was costly but would ultimately advance the company for the better. Everyone in pharmacy services present in the audience reassured that my team did a great job, so all that was left was to wait and watch the other two teams.

Ultimately, we came in second place, but I am extremely happy with the outcome and my team managed to impress all our supervisors in the room. The winning team may have won the trophies, but winning the respect of our supervisors and work colleagues is much better than a trophy. So what did I learn through this whole process? Well, first, working with a diverse group of interns was definitely interesting. The rest of my group really did not have any understanding of pharmacy, so as team captain I had to overcome several challenges with getting the group on track to make the progress we needed in the short 6 week time span to produce this project. Second, my team may have gone too “big” with respect to the project. We had long term goals in mind and the judges wanted something that could have been implemented on the spot – which I believe is the only reason we did not get those first place trophies. Either way, the entire experience was a roller coaster ride which ultimately brought my group and me closer together and created some close friendships with people I’ll definitely stay in touch with.

Over the next few weeks I’ll continue to burn off some lingering topics that I haven’t written about yet including some friends and family visits, Lollapalooza, working with the CIT (Corporate Innovation Team), sailing, and some other cool work experiences I had.

Recommendations of the Day:
Nonfiction – The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman, Peter Rost
Album – The Suburbs, Arcade Fire
Song – Ambling Alp, Yeasayer
Movie – Inception

Executive Suite

July 1, 2010

On Tuesday the interns got taken to the executive suite to take a look at the executive board room. Every Monday morning the executives sit in this room to make all the big company decisions. As we were leaving, the CEO just happened to be outside and talked to us for a few minutes and took a photo.

Smooth Transitions

June 24, 2010

A lot has happened in the past few weeks, which is part of the reason I haven’t been able to post. Let me start off with a topic I started out my last post about – the CVS-Walgreens dispute.  After Walgreens announced that they would no longer be accepting the reimbursement rates CVS/Caremark provided as a PBM and would eventually phase themselves out of the network, CVS/Caremark delivered a devastating blow back when it announced that it was not goling to wait for Walgreens to phase themselves out, instead they were going to eliminate Walgreens from their network effective in 30 days. You can read more about that by clicking here. This was a pretty low blow, as it proved that CVS Caremark really does not care at all about their patients. While Walgreens was trying to gradually cut ties because of unfair business and reimbursement rates they were receiving, we still realized that many Walgreens customers use Carmark as their provider so we mapped out a 3 year plan to make the transition easier on patients. CVS/Caremark proved that the patients do not matter at all, they were just going to cause mass chaos and let patients have to fend for themselves in finding a new network approved pharmacy. The issue does not end there though, because earlier this week, we (Walgreens) apparently came to some new terms with CVS/Caremark that basically nullifies this entire debacle. Walgreens will once again accept Caremark as a PBM and CVS/Caremark will once again welcome Walgreens into their network. More on that resolution is here. So how does this all fit into my job at corporate? Well, it definitely changed the atmosphere of the corporate environment during these contract negotiations, but thankfully, the two kiss and made up, so things have returned to normal.

When I last left you, I was working in Pharmacy Affairs. My last week with the department proved to be surprisingly busy when I signed on to help assist with a specific project involving auxillary label translations for the upcoming New York City translation project. I cannot really go into the specifics of what I was doing, but I spent two long days in front of a computer and worked through pages of excel data to help ensure that the project would go forward. While the legwork itself felt monotonous, I take away knowing that I had a crucial hand in hopefully making this project a success.

I am nearing the end of my second week in retail clinical services, and have been pretty busy with a lot of the new health iniatives the company is working on. This is the tricky part, because basically everything I am working on that is interesting is pretty confidential, so basically I can dangle a carrot in front of you and tell you how awesome it tastes but not ever let you catch the carrot to taste for yourself. Other projects I can tell you about however is that I am working with one of the women who writes all the continuing education (CE) credits for the company, so I have been actively involved in peer reviewing in my spare time and later I will be writing some test questions for CE credits. I am also working with the Medication Therapy Management (MTM) manager and learning about the future reimbursement issues associated with pharmacists providing MTM cognitive services and how insurance companies reimburse the company for these services through the various MTM platforms used. At the end of this rotation, I have to create and present a 30 minute community outreach power point presentation on a disease state or relevant topic that we can then use on the store level to help in patient education.

Last week was Pharmacy Supervisor training. A pharmacy supervisor is basically a specialized district manager who oversees all the Walgreen stores (specifically the pharmacy) in a given district – usually consisting of 20-40 stores or more or less depending on the region. Whenever Walgreens promotes new pharmacists to supervisor, they have a mandatory two week training session at corporate to better learn how to handle their new responsibilities. Last week was week one of training, and week two of training is later in August. I got to meet and network with four new supervisors from the Seattle, Ft Lauderdale, New York City, and Houston areas who are in charge of hiring new pharmacists. You can think of the first week of training very much like a college orientation – but longer – five full days of info session after group activity after info session. The sessions were anywhere from one to four hours long and had different aspects of corporate (retail clinical services, finance, employee relations, etc) come in with presentations for the supervisors to better learn their new role in management. The interns were invited to sit in on any session throughout the week, so I ended up attending about 3/4 of the sessions. One of the most interesting sessions was a four hour financial session (no joke – it really was) where all the accounting and operational statements were reviewed and I learned a lot about analyzing company financial statements. Networking with the supervisors was definitely a plus, because they know how selective Walgreens is when picking their corporate interns, and getting face time with four supervisors for an entire week and building those professional relationships can definitely be a great benefit in the long run when applying for jobs in those metropolitan areas or in the company in general.

The four interns were able to break away from supervisor training last Tuesday to check out the Chicago Board Review for the graduates taking the pharmacy boards. Walgreens offers board reviews in various locations, and Chicago is one of their largest reviews. Some professors in therapeutics and pharmacy law who work for Kaplan come to teach it, so about 200 some graduates were in attendance who signed on with Walgreens. While there, we got to meet some of the past corporate interns and one of them is doing a residency with Northwestern Hospital’s Walgreens on-site so the corporate interns were invited to spend the day with her later in July.

We also had a meeting set up this week where the Executive Vice President of Pharmacy came to speak to the interns and tell us a little about his career path and how he came to rule the entire pharmacy division of Walgreens. He shared a lot of personal experience and provided great insight into future career options for us. The future of pharmacy jobs is a little unsettling. While the profession is advancing, the job prospects it seems are not when you consider the growing number of pharmacy schools that are being built and the abundance of graduates entering the field each year from many schools that are trying to capitalize on how profitable pharmacy schools are. When you combine this with the damaged economy and the fact that most pharmacy companies and chains are no longer opening up as many pharmacies as they were in the past – it’s pretty terrifying to think about for many recent pharmacy grads. The positive side of this is that companies no longer just hire anyone as pharmacists. Walgreens is now very selective when it hires and will not take the “2.0 and Go” candidate who has zero skills when talking to patients anymore since they now have a very large applicant pool to choose from – something that may help when advancing the profession. The downside is the days of pharmacist defecit where companies offer you a $50,000 sign on bonus and/or a brand new car are completely gone. Aside from this meeting, the company also organized a meeting with the pharmacists in charge of independent buyouts to tell us a little more about the process and how they select established pharmacies to purchase.

My girlfriend, Trisha, is flying into Chicago tonight so we have a great weekend planned in the city. We’ll be staying downtown in center city and on Friday we are going to see Billy Elliot The Musical, followed by a Second City Chicago late night comedy show on Saturday. The Taste of Chicago, a massive food festival, starts this weekend too and continues through July 4th when my parents come to visit, so we’ll definitely be checking that out as well. I also just started a class at Northwestern University in latin american politics and so far it has been very interesting and an overall positive experience. I’ll break away from the typical internship post next time and talk more about what this exciting weekend brought. Until next time!

Recommendations of the Day:
Fiction – You Can’t Go Home Again, Thomas Wolfe (currently reading)
Album – Hospice, The Antlers
Song – Home, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Movie – Get Him To The Greek

Business As Usual

June 9, 2010

I arrived at the office on monday morning to a company wide announcement from our CEO, Greg Wasson. Apparently, Walgreens has decided to end its business relationship with rival company CVS/Caremark and no longer accept any new or newly renewed plans associated with the PBM (Prescription Benefit Manager). You can read the press release here. This essentially affects most CVS and Caremark employees who are covered under work benefits, but also affects any private prescription drug plan who uses CVS/Caremark as their benefit manager (which I just happen to have since my mother is an employee of Caremark). Short term, nothing will change, as all current contracts that are affected will continue to be accepted until the contract with the benefit manager is renewed, which usually occurs in three year cycles. Long term, once contracts are renewed behind the scenes with these plans by both the insured parties and the employers providing these services, Walgreens will no longer be able to bill these insurances if the company remains behind this decision, which it probably will. All the divisions in my department (Pharmacy Affairs, Third Party, and Quality Assurance) had a meeting with our director on Monday morning to discuss the implications of this decision and how we should handle customer relations with those who are not currently affected but may be in the future.

Today was also an interesting day because the four interns were taken to lunch by the Vice President of Pharmacy Operations. There really was not much of a purpose behind the lunch, just an introductory and a get to know each other occasion. We went to a really nice restaurant called J Alexanders located not far from our corporate campus, which served single portion sizes that could probably feed five. All the corporate interns (not just pharmacy) will also be entering a competition starting next week where we will be broken into teams and be assigned case studies and projects. The winning team also gets a lunch or dinner with the CEO, so here’s hoping for a win on that front!

After lunch, I was invited by my mentor to attend an ideation meeting. I had met with the same group, made up of various project managers and department managers, for other meetings, but this was the first informal setting where each manager or department representative would share new ideas to help make our pharmacy computer systems better or fixes to comply with new legislature. Walgreens usually releases a few new upgrades every year for their system, so this group also decides which updates are put into each release since limited resources exist and not every project can be incorporated. It’s really impressive seeing board meetings like this take place, as most of the people in the room are by far some of the smartest and most innovative people working for the company.

To have a little fun, last night I hopped a train downtown to see She & Him play a free concert in Millennium park (think Central Park but Chicago). She & Him are made up of Zooey Deschanel and M Ward. Both are amazingly talented, and you may recognize Zooey who played Summer in the movie (500) Days of Summer (See it if you haven’t – I highly recommend it). Every Monday there is a free concert in the park featuring independent musicians, so next week I plan on seeing Great Lake Swimmers perform (and once again, it’s completely free!). Below, I finally took some photos to incorporate and share with you guys of both the concert and downtown scene. The rest of this week I’ll be finishing up my work in Pharmacy Affairs, spending Thursday with some state managers who focus on legislation, and then transitioning into Retail Clinical Services. I’ll update you guys with how that transition goes early next week.

Living the Corporate Dream

June 6, 2010

Week three has just ended at my internship, so I thought it was appropriate to finally fill you in on just what I have been doing. I am working in Pharmacy Affairs, which is under a huge umbrella at corporate called Pharmacy Services. What Pharmacy Affairs specifically handles is the ever changing regulation and legislation impacting all the pharmacies in the chain by state, and working to make sure that the company stays in compliance with new state laws as they are introduced. I’m kind of disappointed that I only have one week left in this department, because I absolutely love it.

The biggest problem over the past few weeks has been with New York City. Recently, the city passed an ordinance requiring that all chain pharmacies (defined as ownership of four or more pharmacies in the city) be required to provide specific language assistance to customers who enter the pharmacy and do not speak English. Walgreens owns about 80 pharmacies in the city (and another 300 Duane Reade stores), so this problem is currently at the forefront as the window to comply with this ordinance is closing. The specific requirements of the bill states that free written translation of medication labels, warning labels, and other written material vital to the consumer’s use of prescription medication be offered to be translated to the seven most common languages that limited English proficient New Yorkers speak. These languages are spanish, two forms of chinese, russian, korean, italian, french creole, and polish. In addition to written translations of these languages, the pharmacies must also offer oral translation services that encompass close to 150 languages. If you are interested in learning more about this bill, you can read the press release from the city council on the issue here. Over my first three weeks, I had the opportunity to sit in on a lot of the meetings where we saw proposals and see developments on the written services and the various technical requirements that this means.

Aside from this issue, I have also been working at reading and analyzing each states pharmacy statutes and regulations to make sure we are in compliance with pharmacy technician training and registration and also with pharmacy interns administering flu vaccines. Pharmacists now have the ability to immunize in every state, and in approximately half of those, pharmacy interns who have undergone state approved training can also administer immunizations under the supervision of a pharmacist. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania does not allow interns to immunize, but many other states do and I have been compiling an up to date list of which states allow it while citing the specific statute or regulation.

When not with my mentor Al who is the manager of the department, I have been working a lot with the Prescription Drug Monitoring (PDM) Project Manager, Tomson. Currently, 34 states require that all controlled substances be reported to the state when dispensed. Some states require this monthly, some states want it weekly, and some states actually want this daily. Tomson’s job is to make sure we are getting this file to each of the states in a timely matter. When you think about it, one person doing this for all 7,000+ stores in the company is kind of intimidating. The purpose of this is to limit abuse of controlled medications. When a prescription is entered for a controlled substance, the prescriber chosen in the system must have a valid DEA number. At the end of the day, each store generates a list of all the controlled substances they dispensed for the day (with the name of the patient, medication, prescriber, DEA, etc) and the file is then incorporated into a larger file at the state level. A whole bunch of IT people then customize this file to each state’s standards and it gets recorded.

Last week, all four pharmacy interns were given the chance to see some of the on-site pharmacies located in downtown Chicago. On-site pharmacies are nontraditional pharmacies located in clinics, physician groups, or other specialties (e.g. Northwestern Hospital has a specialty pharmacy dealing with transplant drugs since they are one of the best transplant hospitals in the country). Friday’s visits were to specialty pharmacies serving the HIV/AIDS population. The first pharmacy we went to was located in the Howard Brown clinic, a clinic primarily serving gay and lesbian populations. The pharmacist in charge there was an expert when it came to HIV medications, and was widely known throughout the community as the person to go to on this issue by not only patients, but doctors as well. The second clinic we visited was part of a group called North Star, another group specializing in gay and lesbian populations with HIV. The pharmacy in this building was on the fifth floor and actually had no outside signs to even indicate there was a Walgreens inside. Instead, the pharmacy manager, another expert on HIV medications, would do a lot of community outreach to advertise for the pharmacy and let physicians and patients know they existed and what they were able to offer. The manager was also an expert in oncology medications, so the practice was broadened and the pharmacist actually managed a lot of cancer medications as well. The visits were very educational, as I had never realized the value of specialty pharmacies with clinical experts before. Since we visited with some of the corporate bosses, they gave us some insight into what they look for when they hire these specialists and how they make their decisions.

Besides the four pharmacy interns working at corporate, there are about 40 other interns who are working throughout corporate in either finance, e-commerce, supply chain, shipping and receiving, merchandising, and industrial engineering. This past Tuesday, Walgreens arranged a banquet dinner at a local restaurant for the interns and our mentors where all the interns were able to meet. Bowling and bocce ball followed. We have some built in events for all the corporate interns throughout the summer, so Friday we all attended a networking session where we had to work on “elevator” speeches and deliver them in front of the entire room. An elevator speech is basically a quick introduction about yourself and your job that is designed to help network more efficiently. Later this summer, Walgreens is taking all the interns to a Chicago Cubs baseball game, in addition to some field trips up to Wisconsin to see one of the distribution centers and innovation centers.

I’ve been keeping busy with the other interns on the weekend. This past Friday the four of us took the Metra downtown to Wrigleyville (the location of the Cubs stadium) to watch the Flyers-Blackhawks game and enjoy the nightlife. The ride on the Metra was unbelievable. The Metra is the only public transportation in Chicago where it is legal to have alcohol, so the happy hour train is filled with professionals getting off of work lugging coolers of beer and liquor on the train. The other interns and I brought some beers, and ended up sitting across from a group who work at Abott (a pharmaceutical company) that brought on a giant cooler of a nice summer concoction they were passing out on the train. The guys from Abott called it “Fancy Friday” and this was all part of their weekly routine. Its nice that an otherwise boring train ride can be livened up to the point where you almost don’t care about your destination.

So far I have been having a blast. Tomorrow I am going to a free concert in Millennium Park to see She & Him, so it should be a good time. This internship has been extremely satisfying so far, and I cannot stress enough how awesome it is and how thankful I am to have been chosen. The people I am meeting and the experiences that I am having will surely impact me in the long run. I promise next post I’ll try to liven it up by incorporating some pictures, but until then, adios!

700 miles down, and miles to go before I sleep.

May 26, 2010

Hey all,

Welcome to my first blog post. I’m currently in week two of twelve of my internship in Pharmacy Services at Corporate Walgreens, and man has it been an amazing ride so far. Speaking of rides, the drive from Pennsylvania to Illinois was approximately 700 miles, but I was lucky enough to split the trip over two days. I left home on Saturday, May 15th and drove to Cleveland where my cousin Megan was kind enough to give me a place to rest up for the night. The two of us hadn’t seen each other in about four years, so this drive was a great excuse to stop and catch up. I continued west on Sunday morning, and finally reached the Chicago skyline by mid-afternoon. Seeing the skyline continuously grow as I creeped closer to my destination was exciting and surreal at the same time. I was notified that I was selected for the internship on April 1, so I was eagerly counting down every day since then waiting to make the move and begin this journey. Seeing the city come into focus symbolized the excitement and promise this summer would bring.

The apartment that Walgreens arranged for me to stay in is located in Lake Bluff, a northern suburb of Chicago. Walgreens Corporate offices are located in Deerfield, approximately 10 miles away from the apartment. The living arrangements that Walgreens provided are stunning. There are four corporate pharmacy interns, so Walgreens selected 2 males and 2 females to fill into 2 apartments. Each apartment has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and just about all the home amenities you can ask for. The apartment complex is huge and spans multiple buildings, and we have access to a swimming pool and gym.

The way this internship works is that each intern rotates throughout different areas in Pharmacy Services throughout the summer. Because we are each there for twelve weeks, they split us up into 3 four week rotations. Prior to arriving, each intern was sent a list of about 12 different rotations offered and we had to rank and submit various rotations based upon brief descriptions. Monday, May 17 marked our first official day of work. Orientation sessions were held throughout the morning introducing us to company policies and allowing us to get to know one another. We were then notified which rotations we received, and I was lucky enough to get my top three choices: Pharmacy Affairs, Clinical Education and Professional Development, and Corporate Innovation Team. In each rotation, the intern is paired up with a mentor in the department who basically oversees that specific department and is our immediate supervisor for the four weeks we spend with them. My next post will detail some of my day to day activities that I perform with Pharmacy Affairs, but many subjects I am not able to write about due to confidentiality agreements and the nature of the material I am working on. I will however still try to give you guys as much as I am able to comfortably write with those agreements in mind.

While I live here for the next few months, I decided to make a list of some personal goals to achieve so that I can look back on this summer and realize that I accomplished something. Some of these goals fit into the academic and professional portfolio, but others are simple reminders to have fun and take advantage of the area.

1. Hop the train downtown every chance I get. This may be the only time I live in the Chicago area, and being a person who loves city life, I want to experience everything Chicago has to offer. At the top of my list right now is Lollapalooza, Second City, Chicago Cubs games, Navy Pier fireworks for July 4th, and various concerts coming to the city throughout the summer.

2. Meet every pharmacist working at corporate Walgreens not in a traditional pharmacy job and learn about how they ended up working in the job they perform. I have already met all the pharmacy attorneys who have both a pharmacy and law degree, and will be meeting with them individually throughout the summer to learn more about why they chose to go to law school after pharmacy school and what career options there are with the two degrees.

3. Prep for the LSAT. I currently plan on taking the test October 9. This may end up being the most important test I’ll ever take, because if I choose to go into law after pharmacy as I currently plan, this is the test that will directly dictate which schools I have a likelihood of gaining admission to.

4. Relax. As much as I say this summer is going to be full of excitement, fun, and hard work – I have a long list of leisure reading I want to accomplish lying next to the pool at my apartment in what is predicted to be a beautiful and hot Chicago summer. At the top of my reading list is finally finishing the last few sections of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.

5. Stay healthy, fit, and happy. Over the past few years of living away from home, I have slowly began attempting to cook, and I usually choose to make (and later butcher) selections that would normally be considered healthier. I really want to take this time away from home and college to continue honing my cooking abilities. Along the same lines, I am trying to stay healthy and fit physically which is made super easy with a gym in my apartment complex.

Summer in Chicago is definitely the place to be, and I am still in awe that I have this opportunity. The 700 miles to get here might have seemed far, but that was really just the beginning. The “traveling” I will do now that I am out here – that’s the real journey. My destination is still quite distant and out of sight, but just like driving towards the skyline brought it into focus, continuing down this path will only put into focus what lies at the end.