My life after drugs: How I stayed positive after losing my pharmaceutical sales job.

Some tips to help you stay motivated and positive in this economic meltdown.

By Monica Brinson

I became a pharmaceutical sales rep in September. OH MY GOD! I felt like Donald Trump had just said to me, "Monica, you're hired." It was one of the happiest days of my life. I could not wait to begin a career that would help me become empowered as well as empower others, and play a role in an industry that is critical to health care.

However, much to my dismay, this job was by no means easy. (But nothing worth it is ever easy, is it?) I had 18 different District Managers supervising me within a period of 5 years. At this time the company was growing at an amazing pace. My territory happened to be very close to our headquarters, so many of the managers did rotations as the manager of my team and quickly moved into the next phase in their career. Although great for their future, I felt that my Company was not really giving me a mentor, or showing me a clear career path.

No matter how frustrated I was, I always stayed focused and motivated myself. I stayed focused knowing that everyday that I was out in the field being a consultant to my targeted physicians, I was in some small measure making my contribution toward saving lives. I motivated myself by reading books in order to help me became a better rep, working toward my sales goals, training less tenured reps, and seeking out mentors. And I never let a day go by with out laughing at least once a day!

After much hard work at my first pharma job, I finally came to the conclusion that I was getting very low ROI (return on investment) and I knew I could do better. So I moved on to a position in another company that provided a $20,000 pay increase and a promotion from a primary care rep to a specialty rep.

I was very excited about this new venture, and enjoyed the new challenges, at which I excelled. I took the territory from #118 to #12 in the country. (I had a bright future at the company as my manager put it.) Additionally, I knew that I would be going into the Company's leadership development program. The future looked bright.

Unfortunately I received a very upsetting phone call that many reps, in many companies, have received to date that due to the economy and that fact that we did not launch what was thought to be our block buster drug, I was laid off from the Company.

I was completely devastated. What in the world do I do now?

I let myself ponder that question for about two minutes, then I had the answer: I get back on my feet and start again. I began sending resumes out immediately, reaching out to my contacts in other Companies, renewing ties with recruiters, and in general, networking like crazy.

For the first month I went through a range of emotions. I thought that it would be very easy to land another pharma job with my experience. Unfortunately, lots of companies were going through what my company was going through. Each month there were hundreds of displaced pharmaceutical sales reps on the streets interviewing for the same opportunity that I was applying for.

I was very discouraged, but despite that, I spent a year trying very hard to get back into the industry, working my contacts and creating new ones, following up leads and interviewing for every good opportunity.

When my savings were dwindling, I had to rethink my strategy and adjust my short-term goals a bit. I could see that I needed to broaden the world of opportunities I would consider, and perhaps take a lower salary in exchange for a good opportunity and the chance to be working again. (One of my friends continually reminds me, its easier to get a job when you already have one; so get one - and then you can still keep your ears open for other opportunities.) So, I took a sales job outside of the pharmaceuticals industry, at a salary that was about half of what I had been earning in pharma.

Is this the job I want forever? Probably not. Is this a good opportunity for me, right now, at this time? You bet. I'm not where I want to be in the long run, but then again, no matter what job I've ever had before, I always had goals, I always wanted to move up, I always wanted to take things to the next level. So this is not so different, and its excellent to be working again. After a year off, I really appreciate the opportunities this job provides. And I am making the most of it. I am making every day count, staying positive, improving my skills in selling and training others, building my track record, and making contacts. One day I hope that I will have the opportunity to get back into the pharma industry, since I still feel that's where my passion lies.

I will not give up pursuing my goals and dreams. I may get sidelined a little bit, I may suffer a setback here and there. I may even change my goals and dreams from time to time, but I will always keep pursuing the targets I've set for myself.

My message to all of you out there, who are seeking the opportunity to get into the industry, is this: the key is to be stay positive, network, and empower others while on your journey. Stay focused and understand that when one door closes, another door opens. You have to be open-minded enough to be able to see that other open door because it may not be exactly where you expect it to be.

I hope my story helps you!

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