Feeling lost after your graduation? Here is what you need to know before you make your first career choice.

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Written by John Yeo – Pharmacist, Business Development Manager at Advanx Health

Back when I was a graduate in the year 2015, I was excited and enthusiastic about starting my career as a pharmacist. I had made internship applications even before my finals as I did not want to waste any time waiting. Many among my batch were quite certain that they wanted to enter the government sector while I was one of the few that did not consider serving as a government servant  for even a moment. I was fortunate that the liberation policy for the Provisionally Registered Pharmacist (PRP) training had been implemented few years back. This meant that I was given the freedom to obtain my license from the registered training premises in the private sector. It was from then on that I had made the decision to not pursue a career within the government sector and I never looked back. Perhaps you would ask me, why was I so sure? Well, to be honest, at that point in time I could say that I was naïve and ignorant . The industry sector was enticing as I was told that one will make big bucks there. So, I did not know where I mustered all that confidence thinking that things might work out for me If I joined the industry. There, I began my journey.

The culture shock after joining the industry

The first culture shock that you will likely experience after you enter the industry is that you are a nobody. By this, I do not mean as a person, but as a profession. The industry houses an array of professions from finance managers, legal experts, engineers and pharmacists. You are nothing special in the big ecosystem and you merely play a small part. Perhaps this was the consequence of constant reminders by my lecturers back in university that pharmacists play a huge role in the industry. It is easy to forget that every other profession working alongside you received the exact same reassurance. In harsh reality, I was just another graduate with a pharmacy degree, supposedly someone who is ‘good with drugs’.

Sometimes the greatest gift is the one that you cannot see

I had the privilege to have worked in 3 different manufacturing companies of different scale and every one of them taught me different things.  Surprisingly, I am not sure whether it is fate but I have always ended up in the commercial side of the company rather than the technical side of it. The commercial side of a manufacturing company deals with business development, marketing and sales, while the technical side of a manufacturing company works  on production, quality assurance, quality control and regulatory affairs.

From the experience and exposure that I had with these 3 companies, I have harnessed a strong interest in business. Thus, I have focused my personal development towards building better business skills and business acumen. If you asked me whether I had this in mind when I first joined the industry, I did not think I would be business-oriented. Although in my final year, I had founded the MyPSA Young Entrepreneur Program (YEP) with a group of buddies, that exposure was only the tip of the iceberg.

The take home message here is that you might not know what you will encounter along the way. Sometimes you cannot plan and predict everything. You have just started your career and without you even realising it, this will probably last you 30-40 years down the road. There is no way that you will know for sure where you will end up. But what you can do is to believe and pursue things that add value to you. From trying and failing, perhaps you will stumble upon your true calling and you want to be in the right position to grab that opportunity.

Let me quote a motivational phrase from an anonymous source:

If you can’t earn MONEY, earn KNOWLEDGE;

If you can’t earn KNOWLEDGE, earn EXPERIENCE;

If you can’t earn EXPERIENCE, earn NETWORK;

Do not let others define you, take charge of your own destiny

The last thing that I would like to share is that you will need to take charge of your own development. You might meet a good mentor, teacher or senior in your new workplace, or you might not. You might be working in a good environment, culture and team, or you might not. Always remember that there is no such thing as “I do not have a choice”. You always have a choice no matter where you are. You can choose to either adapt to it or to leave. The worst thing is to not make any decisions and to be devoured by the circumstances.

Your mindset and attitude here will play the most crucial role among others. Your conviction and faith will be your motivation in these tough situations. Always stay true to yourself and you need not compare with the achievements of others. Everyone of us walks down a different path and will end up in different places.

I sincerely hope to see great things, changes and innovations from all of you who are reading this. Thank you for spending your precious time to read my thoughts in this article.


The opinions expressed in the article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the view of MPS YPC.

I am John Yeo, a pharmacist by profession, pivoted to digital and innovative health technology business. Passionate in both developing business and talent, I like to exchange ideas and experience with people to gain insights to new horizons.

I am fortunate to have been guided by remarkable seniors and mentors in this industry who had showed me the challenges as well as the opportunities which lies in the current healthcare system.

Through my past working experience in manufacturing, distributing, marketing, and retailing businesses, allows me to see the pharmaceutical industry across the value chain delivery from a bird’s eye view.

Currently I am involved in a start-up company that focuses in combining healthcare and data to empower common people like you and me to make better health decisions in taking care of ourselves and our loved ones.