The NESACS Blog
From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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05/04/16
Professional Behavior. Cultural fit, Productive Habits and Pausing
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Networking, First Year on Job, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 10:19 am

Approaching a job search and change feels like a change in mental
frame of mind, yet it should be little different than our routine.

Since what we think and how we behave comes down to routine
actions in response to a cue to achieve an outcome, certain habits
should be our professional pattern.  However, in different circumstances
and millieus, it might be different.  Thus, we need to figure out our
professional presence in these settings to be productive.

Some elements of our professional presence are expressed in
Charles Duhigg’s latest book.  Duhigg writes about
 a motivation (in particular “the five whys”)
 b teams and group norms that matter most
 c managing our focus (understanding reactive thinking and cognitive
tunneling)
 d stretch and proximal goal setting (plan with probability, not certainty)
 e decision making (using Bayesian psychology and probabilities)
 f innovation (using scaffolding and choice combinations)
 

Much of this we learn after the fact and some we do not ever
recognize.  If a job is not a good fit, we can feel less confident and
it seems like an act.  Trust can be missing with co-workers. 

Much has been discussed about what to look for in our careers.
Anna Hunter described it well when she mentioned the cultural
fit of us into an organization is the highest indicator of satisfaction.
The fit, she indicates, is a feeling (emotional), matches our interests
and values, involves tasks and interactions that serve our skill set

to continually grow and improve.

What tasks engage and excite you?
With whom did you work with and how were you related to them,
relationship-wise? [SUPERVISOR-PROFESSIONAL,
PEER-PEER]  What was the nature of your role?

Early in your career it may be helpful to experience different situations
and perform a pause moment to think about the experience both during
and reflecting afterwards on its bigger picture.
Pausing will help you prioritize the cultural aspects

When we are involved in the interviewing continuum, which happens
earlier now than in the past, we would seek out directions rather than
destinations and explore what we need to make progress.  Many positions
are not advertised and we need to match our intentions which we need to
put into words and demonstrate in competences and potential.

comments (0)
05/01/16
Critical Reading. Patents, business results and technical literature
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations), Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 12:48 pm

One of the short discussions we had in our class this year was
on the role of critical thinking.  It was not elaborate or drawn
out with many inferences and examples like it could.

It was about reading with a “thinking” attitude.

One of the members brought up how he would teach undergraduates,
especially how to read the technical literature.  The citation he used
mentioned the old paradigm structure of the scientific method, as
if it were gospel. 

SOME QUESTIONS
Another view is to seriously evaluate the source who funded
the work, who gains from its publication and the true value?  What is
it do you want to learn from the report, communication or
article?  Is this too hard to ask?

This blog has cited Galea’s Fortune piece which points out biases.
Scientific literature can be read [or mis-read] with a structure
to influence the readers’ take-away message.

CORPORATE RESULTS
The Economist offered a remarkably insightful piece about corporate
financial results on which we depend on for employment, investment
and purchasing.
  It should be totally unbiased and reflect truth as
well.  The article puts forth the “carnival of confusion, obfuscation,
and fibbing” that would make “even presidential candidates blush”.

The article speaks to Valeant, Microsoft, SunEdison, GM, GE
restating earnings, adjusting figures, and using measures of
profit that do not have regulatory significance. 

Rules of thumb:  profit should be revealed in standard accounting
rules, without adjustments for mature firms
                              firms should not have large and persistent gaps
between official accounting and adjusted profits
                               firms should not have low tax payments, since
it should be reporting profits to investors and government
                                look at the “cash flow”
Look at this before sending in your application!

TECHNOLOGY REALITY CHECK:  PATENTS
For the first time I have seen CEN talk about reading the patent
literature
[and not an ACS journal article] to learn about something.
The recent issue revealed more significance can be gained
from reading the patent literature
.  While not the headline
or example, this statement is something we will not find
many research professors teach our students and post-docs.

There is something legally binding in patents.  When researching
the literature about your work or potential job applications,
patents should be a must area to review.

1 comment
04/22/16
Rules of Thumb. Dealing with new or unanticipated situation, American Business culture, Responding to No
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, First Year on Job, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 1:39 pm

Connecting a phrase used on Royal Pains that we are “binge
watching” with a recent book I have finished provides the
inspiration for this entry.

F-R-E-A-K
Jeremiah Sacani (played by Ben Shenkman) utters a rule
 of thumb psychologists are attributed with for dealing with
new social connections or unanticipated situations– F-R-
E-A-K 
an acronym for 1- face the person or situation, 2- react
in a way that gathers information and understanding, 3-
empathize
in a way that reveals you are looking from being
in another’s shoes, 4- affirm what is going on in our minds
and what we think, 5- “kill it” and reach a conclusion.

CREATIVITY IN AMERICA
Alan Webber wrote a thoughtful book, Rules of Thumb  ,
that touches a cord that resonates with many audiences.  Part
of that is he lists 52 and the other is that it seems like
authentic Americana.  One in particular struck my funny bone,
having to do with what Americans like.  Thus what resonates
with American businesses and audiences.
 - Want things that work;  pride ourselves in getting things
done, and making things happen.             Does it work?
-  What will make things better;  look for ways to adapt and
make things better or find another use.  Can it work better?
-  What is new or next or never been done;  what can we do to
innovate and even self-improve.      What is new and better?

This brings up a rule of thumb connection to a connection in
Adam Grant’s TED talk on what brings about Creativity.  Three
disciplines that make a positive impact are:  allow ideas to
percolate up
and problems to germinate in our subconscious; 
manage our fear and doubt by partitioning it into doubt of
ourselves and doubt of our ideas
and then say ‘what have I
to lose if I do.’
His example is a thought provoking one making observations
about the internet browser we each use.  See the TED talk….
Fear not the possible failures, realizing that we are judged on
ideas and growth mindset.  Try many new things.

NO-  WHAT DOES IT MEAN
Webber’s Rule #13 is Learn to take “no” as a question.  No
is not necessarily a negative and can teach us critical things.  
It is said we are not trying hard if we do not hear a no.

Webber’s come back for no is:  Thank you– for the time,
attention and feedback.  We should try to not take things
personally and pursue what is
     missing or
     expressed wrong or
     mis-timed.


comments (0)
04/15/16
Weakness Discussions. Have trouble “saying no” to requests
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 6:20 pm

After you have a conversation with people and
see how they behave and react to requests you
can predict one of their weaknesses is they
have trouble saying “no” to requests.  Even
when the requests are not in their best
interests and may go against them.

I encountered two people who were surprised
when I predicted that they would agree that was
their weakness.  Both a young man and a young
woman were from international cultures.  The
same can be said with some American traditions,
but there are some slight differences.

This blog entry is about identifying people who
make such requests that are not in your interest. 
It is also about what we should be doing in a way
that realizes we will face these and what we can
do to more easily and more honestly deal with
these requests and feel good about ourselves.

SELF CONTROL
Pier Forni has written that exercising self control
realistically is working toward your goals, but
refraining from doing so at another’s expense in The
Thinking life (2010).
If you reach out and help someone else reach
their goals while reaching your goals you are
exercising “self-control” at its best.

The first step in defining when and when not to
say “no” is: understanding what the steps are to reach
your goals.  Then maintain self control to identify whether
a request aids in helping someone else reach their
objectives and yours.

PERSONALITY TYPES
Mark Goulston wrote about the different personalities
we will encounter who might ask for our help.

He classified them into a series of toxic people and Givers:
Toxic people are needy as they demand constant attention
and help, use emotional blackmail to get what they want,
and offer gratitude only if it “keeps you on the hook.”
    BULLIES - go after “easy prey” - your actionset boundaries
    TAKERS - ‘hit you up’ every day for an easy favor - your action:
immediately ask for something for them to do for you in exchange.
    NARCISSISTS - want to be the center of attention - see them
for who they are

    PSYCHOPATHS - cold, self-centered, ruthless, manipulators
- avoid

Then there are GIVERS who reciprocate, share and pass on
credit and attention and look for the benefit of the team and
each individual contributor.

ACTION ITEMS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE TROUBLE SAYING NO:
Look at the people who play a role in your life
Write the response next to their name to the following:
    Can I count on this person to provide practical assistance
                              emotional support
                              prompt assistance when I am in trouble
                              financial support

LEARN TO SAY NO
1.  Set Boundaries;  What are your goals?
2.  Propose another way or another person to help or delegate
3.  Ask questions for clarity;  do the right things the first time
4.  Create more “thinking time”
        schedule time to think;  think with partners
        turn waiting time into thinking time

           


comments (0)
04/08/16
Reference Check. What is asked and how you can help yourself
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 5:01 pm

It is an essential part of the interview process that you will
provide references and they will be contacted.  As we know,
it is wise to ask if a person can provide a good reference for you
before you offer their name for a reference.

Recently, I was asked if I would act as a colleague’s
reference.  After her interview, she and I skyped to
share what the interview was like and to get prepared for
my part of her interview.

The reference checking can happen before you might
interview in places that know your reference.  That can
act as a sanity check to go ahead with more detailed
interviewing.

It can happen after the interview in two or three ways.
One is a phone reference check.  A second way is
to ask for your reference to complete a detailed form.
And a third variation is to ask for a letter of reference,
which would be similar to the common letter of
recommendation sought for academic position applications.

The reference checking process can be done by a HR
staffer or more frequently these days by a contracted firm
that specializes in this service.  Both the candidate’s
performance and my credibility are tested. 

So, during our Skype I asked the candidate what she learned
about the position and the company.  In addition, I asked for
a few personal/professional details so that I could strongly
describe that I knew the candidate.  She was involved in several
seminars, a course I led and we traveled to an international
meeting at which she overcame weather problems.

In our reference checking conversation, I confirmed personal
history and information about her strengths, weaknesses and
near term goals.

The person I spoke with, Sharon, politely confirmed her information
about me that the candidate provided.  Then, she asked if it was a
good time to complete this assignment.  I indicated yes.

There are standard questions that are usually asked:
 - how long is the business relationship and what was the formal
connection

 - is there any reason this person is not qualified to work in the
position?
 - provide details of directly working with the applicant on a project
 - assess the applicant’s performance on the project
 - please describe the candidate
 - what are her leading strengths
 - what performance factors could the applicant improve
 - would you recommend we hire this applicant

So, knowing specific personal strengths with examples and areas
the applicant needs to improve are very important.  Having an idea
of the applicant’s reflection of how the interview day went will
reveal if the applicant was comfortable with the culture and
people experienced.  The reference needs to find a way to express
strong desire with the opportunity and be an advocate.

comments (0)
04/01/16
Comments on Individual Development Plan Templates
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 11:04 am

IDPs– We find these shortcut tools in many organizations.  We have
shied away from bringing this up after a conversation with Judy Grutter
a true guru in the field of career management and personal counseling.

IDPs are commonly planning documents or templates completed over
the next period, commonly, a year.  They are reviewed, revised and
discussed with supervision with the aim of guiding performance to
achieve  objectives leading to outcomes.

There is a common misapplication of this format to apply to managing
careers and long term goal achievement
.  No disagreement that
objective setting to achieve goals
is reasonable and important for
ourselves, teams and organizations.

AWARENESS OF STRENGTHS VALUABLE
There is no argument that a person is greatly aided in her or his career
quest by doing a 360-degree, self assessment
of emotional intelligence,
hard skills and interests, values and strong talents, personal behavior
tendencies, cultural biases, experiences and expectations. 

Expecting IDPs to do all this is just the beginning of expecting to do
too much.

There are other skills, soft and wise skills, that most IDPs seem to miss.
Some IDPs try to fix weaknesses and others extend a person’s strengths.
Nonetheless, the author needs to own the document and not be just what
the boss wishes.

What are some downsides of exclusively expecting IDPs to be a career
management guide? 
1.  needs to establish desired outcomes in an ever changing marketplace
2.  needs to have clear objectives
        getting a job, any job is not enough
3.  requires specific priorities and have strategies and keystone habits
to focus, limit distractions and understand perfect is the enemy of good.
4.  can put undue pressure on individual if someone else creates the
plan
5.  understand human’s Fear of failure and be resilient (wise skill) 
6.  adapt to changing conditions and needs

There are ways of dealing with the career management uncertainty.  We
need to understand both the piece that IDPs may partially provide, and
all the other pieces that must be supported elsewhere.

This blog suggests that career management have three options in
planning– specific focus, contingent outcomes, and a ‘Z plan’ where
everything works out perfectly.
 

1 comment
03/29/16
Watch-Outs. 94. Meso-facts, Scientific results, Changing criteria for evaluation, Belief in Scientific Literature
Filed under: Recent Posts, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 1:33 pm

When Samuel Arbesman came out with his book The Half-Life of Facts
this blog noted its relevance in several entries.

There is an element of truth and much controversy that results
from scientific literature, especially when it presumes
hard facts.  It is especially true when we conceive of
a very complex world where small differences and
shifting criteria and lead to different conclusions and
interpretations.

Recently Jeffrey Flier tried to simplify the complex
world of scientific literature in a WSJ piece
saying that there are costs that need to be met to reproduce
all the experiments leading to scientific reduction of
hypotheses to test.  This was met, in comments to the article
by disdain, as it does seem to oversimplify the causes as
due to (1) design and statistical analysis, (2) publish to
achieve personal objectives, misplace motivation, (3)
review and acceptance criteria for publication.
[All of these have merit.  But do they cover all the
test, sample, experiment, analysis, interpretation space?]

He focuses a remedy more on the third root cause.

The Economist reported the evolution of scientific
study in the use of COMPare to examine the problem
from a slightly different perspective (which they
referred to as outcome switching).

There also is the prevalence of the impact of scientific
“stars” on allowing new interpretations from
entering fields.  In the same issue of Economist
a short piece points out how there are similar
impacts in several fields.  Related to this is a quaint
story of perseverance to publish overcoming rejection
to hold out for one’s findings.

This post offers no solutions to the complex problem
where details matter and being able to reproduce
results allows theories to stand the test of time.  But
what results in one lab’s hands may be different from
another and from what happens in the murky real
world, where there are many things potentially
different from a laboratory setting.

1 comment
03/24/16
Interview Questions. What do you want to do next and What motivates you
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, First Year on Job
Posted by: site admin @ 1:22 pm

A couple of interesting conversations spur this entry.  One colleague
asked for help in developing a response to the question:  What does she
wish to do next after achieving her PhD?
  [So as the advice goes:  the
solution of many problems is in the framing of the question, its boundary
conditions and assumptions.]

She has a long term goal of reuniting with her family.  This can be
achieved in several ways, in terms of relocating.  Yet, she only viewed
it by one path of her returning to live at home [boundary condition].  So,
my response was philosophical that many  more unintentional factors go
into our career choice, other than an initial goal.   I offered salient
features of a self-assessment (values and interests) as one factor
and opportunities that open up to us…more practical 

Then added ‘Fulfillment in your career often does not result from the
work itself, but in the quality and care you bring to your efforts.
Few of us find their career through logic.  Many find their career
through connections and sometimes through coincidence.

We cannot really predict where we end up in our career.  We may set
goals.  They may not be realistic or realizable.’

A second conversation brought the question:  How do I respond to
the question:
What motivates me?  To that I responded, pick two from the
following six:

  1. career progression through the ranks and opportunities
    for promotion and advancement
  2. lateral moves with increasing job responsibility and skill
    building (like, rotational assignments in other areas, joint
    ventures, and others)
  3. Acquiring new technical skills (outside training, certification)
  4. Developing leadership intuition or managerial and administrative
    skills
  5. Balance in family life and work life
  6. increased compensation and other forms of compensation

comments (0)
03/18/16
Trends in Technical Careers. Tips for Telecommunication, Hacking of Scientific journals, Interviewing Strategies
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 2:57 pm

Since Julian Assange opened access to critical files and
espionage, it was only a matter of time when we would
see wide spread hacking of scientific literature.  While we
do not and are not condoning hacking a recent report tells of
amazing hacking of scientific journals.

We share an article which talks about tips for professional
telecommuting and virtual meeting/interviewing.  While we
have entered previously on this topic, a couple of elements
are true and new. 

Then, I looked at a nice “Acing the interview” presentation.
The speaker gave some insight that I share as preparation
for taking interviews.

HACKING SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE
SOURCE:  A. Staller, Open Access vs. illegal Access ECS

A grad student in Kazakhstan presumably released hundreds
of scientific journal articles.  While many have come out
arguing that the current model limits scientific progress in
the Internet age, this could accelerate the process of open
access.
Yet, it remains to be seen how a justifiable income stream
can come from open access models.  Perhaps the music
model on the internet may find its way into scientific
literature for the masses.

VIRTUAL TELECONFERENCES
SOURCE:  WSJ  3-18-16 “Rules of etiquette for virtual
conferences”

While it is a common trick for interviews, this article points out
it is improper etiquette to not know all the attendees/observers
in a virtual meeting.  The “who just joined beeps” are unwanted
distractions and finding a way to say you are leaving a meeting,
via announcement or texting to or having another cover announce
your imminent return. 

PREPARATION FOR INTERVIEWS
SOURCE:  I. Bloch, Ace the Interview, Strategies

She does cover the usual story telling strategies, STAR, and
background research (salaries, glassdoor, connections,
grooming, good questions, and more), what comes out of
this webinar is 
(1) in US you have to promote yourself,
(2) identify what separates yourself from other applicants,
(3) come up with three 3 strengths  and be able to insert
them at appropriate points
(4) on weaknesses, avoid identifying a core competency issue
for the positions

1 comment
03/14/16
Professional Behavior. Digital Breadcrumbs, Candor and Linkedin Profiles
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Mentoring, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:41 am

Calvin Pappas wrote about things to improve your Linkedin profiles
recently.  I found it interesting in that it separates Linkedin from
the majority of profile settings by managing and controlling access
and viewership.  This allows, in other words, you to manage your
profile’s “digital breadcrumbs.

This connects us to Elizabeth Charnocks book– “E-Habits” which
attracted my attention recently.  The Toronto Star offered an interesting
article describing her company, Cataphora, which creates mathematical
models of our digital presence
to assess witnesses for prosecuting
attorneys, ‘bad apple’ analyses of employees [’banana peel throwers’],
future employees or whistle-blowers [Dorian Grey effect– fake
images of themselves]  and other common sense images of people’s
habits that may reflect character traits.

One area of relevance to professional behaviors is the consistency
of your resume to other digital images and reflections of you on the
Internet
.  Their software models whether there are (intentional or
unintentional) discrepancies in your public relations documents with
the “digital YOU.”

She offers the idea of a website that creates one version of your
resume–Emurse.

This leads us to receiving feedback from mentors to providing feedback
and upgrading our habits to be more in sync with our true goals.  Ed
Catamull’s Creativity Inc
talks at length about how speaking with candor
in a  trusting and digestable manner makes us better and our efforts more
productive.  He writes about the formation and development of Pixar and
generalizes on the trial and error processes they evolved in digitizing
creative efforts.

comments (0)
03/07/16
Legal, Security and Insurance Matters.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Job Offer (Situations), Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 9:21 am

The title is written to get wider attention.  Legal is the lead word,
but I will start with insurance.

INSURANCE
I noticed a “rider” on our homeowners insurance policy.  It is
an extra “technical support program” service they provide.  I called
the number and learned that they will offer remote phone and
remote access of your devices to solve technical problems.
When you buy a new computer, this service costs $150 and up
yearly.  Worth your while asking for and using this free of charge service. 
[devices:  computers, smartphones, iPads, tablets, Office
applications, Printers, scanners and network connectivity;
Firm:  Commerce]

LEGAL - WILLS, TRUSTS
A helpful guide on trusts and wills was sent out by our estate
planning attorney firm about the terms wills and trusts.
A will is a “death document,” as it only goes into effect when
you die.  There are six provisions:  distribution of assets by name
and through court probate process, guardians, executors.  It is
usually shorter (cheaper) and does not allow for tax complications.

A trust is a living document that evolves by your direction through
your life.  It is enacted in cases of disability, covers all aspects of
wills and can avoid probate to settle after death.  It can manage
all succeeding affairs regarding your estate and beneficiaries.

These documents are important as our estates exceed our
debts.   SOURCE: Cody, Cody McCarthy: Estate Law)

LEGAL - CONFIDENTIALITY
Al Sklover provides definitions, examples and exclusions
of confidentiality and non-disclosure
that help us understand
what confidential information is, the four exceptions and how
to protect yourself.
His four exceptions are truly noteworthy– sharing to perform
specific duties, when the information is already in the public
domain, to comply with the law, and with the consent and
direction of management.

 

comments (0)
03/04/16
Visa Dilemmas. Inc Tips that may help
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, First Year on Job, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 8:53 am

It is imperative that this blog uncovers and shares pertinent information
on Visas for international scientists and engineers.  It is so often
presumed that universities and companies will provide this resource.

Is it the best and most up to date information?

This blog has commented on H-1Bs in the past and there are Department
of Labor resources
to refer.
Inc. provides a nice tip sheet offering
  required documents
  typical costs, including premium processing to the front of the line
  making your case– advanced degrees in technical fields
  get a qualified outside lawyer to review your application

comments (0)
02/27/16
Watch-Outs. 94. Personal Presence, Job Search Tips, Academic SEO
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Networking, Mature professionals, Technicians, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 9:06 am
Our world is emerging, evolving yet some things remain
as good habits in our job search.  This entry shares 
sites describing impressions and trends in how we appear
and what we wear is received by recruiters and interviewers.
We also uncovered an entry while targeted at academic
career track takes its key concepts from business development
and branding.
The third entry is a frank advertisement about the things
people with advanced technical degrees should be doing to
find opportunities and openings.  So often they display the
“prisoners’ dilemma” working for a faculty member exclusively
depending upon him or her to figure out what career path they
should choose and when and how to pursue that path.  It does
not work that way, as it is really your prime responsibility.  No
one tells you that.            
DRESSING FOR SUCCESS –> SUCCESS
SOURCE:  WSJ 2-21-16 “Why Dressing for Success Leads to
Success” 
There is an unconscious, nonverbal communication that
people offer in the clothing we wear for different circumstances.
You need to be aware of this as you enter the job market and
continue throughout your career.  Many of the comments
reinforce the importance of quality clothing and good grooming.

ACADEMIC SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION

SOURCE  The Academic Triangle Blog
This article offers using marketing principles to increase your
search rank on Internet search engines.
-  Google scholar profile
-  Google +, Researchgate  ,Academia.edu
-  use of keywords in titles and abstracts
-  author a thoughtful blog
-  affiliate with panels, group discussions, and committed networks

FIND OPPORTUNITIES–> COMMITTED NETWORKS,
REFERRALS

SOURCE:  Cheeky Scientist
You must get out of the laboratory to find your next position,
as foreign as that world and experience may seem to you.
This cheeky scientist entry frankly spells out the realities for you
in the highly competitive, different “human” world of impressions,
relationships, and being in the right place at the right time. 

Most jobs are not advertised and many emails and uploaded
documents are not read or at least responded to. Committed
networks and referrals are key.  Take all opportunities to
differentiate yourself.
comments (0)
02/23/16
Professional Behavior. What you want to achieve–Write it out!
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Mentoring, First Year on Job
Posted by: site admin @ 2:20 pm

It has been my experience that many people can achieve
what they think is important if they “put their mind to it.”

What does putting your mind to it entail?  I believe Henriette
Klauser
has nailed it down in “Write it down–Can make it
happen.”

Earlier entries have discussed various methods by which
we can overcome uncertainty in our lives, whether you
feel confused, or anxious, or stuck or making false
starts.  Often this can be due to being anxious, confused
or frustrated– brainstorming, prioritizing and setting
clear objectives will help. 

Once you write your clear objectives down, your mind
activates subconscious elements as it motivates your mind
to create and develop a clearer view of what is needed.

comments (0)
02/13/16
Watch-Outs. 93. ChemBark Employment, “Green science Site”, Open source publishing
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 9:15 am

It is true, this blog is a supporter of open source publications.
With the internet, with the incredible expense of hard copy
publication (Chemistry texts at >$150), with restrictions
in information….  While exploring the topic in ACS, ChemBark
blog appeared.

The impetus for sustainable chemistry, processes and
products continues.  This blog seeks to continue to support
its innovation, know-how and application.  My green lab
is shared in this entry.

Back to open source publishing, a dimension in textbook
publishing has emerged and has hopes will take off
as it addresses the cost and obsolescence issues.

CHEMBARK EMPLOYMENT
Source:  ChemBark (Academic) Employment
This blog category lists some unique and valuable information
for people in the academic career path.  It is very readable
and contains tidbits from a career insider that are
thoughtful (UCLA, Haran) and helpful (StLUniversity,
for example).

SUSTAINABLE CHEMISTRY LABORATORIES
Source:  MYGREENLAB.ORG
This web site offers all aspects of sustainable design,
development and training, especially on institutions.
While a company, Lumencor, sponsors this as it is
in the business of environmentally friendly light sources,
it shows a new trend in outreach marketing.

I point to the Chemical Substitutions page as relevant
for this audience and two significant pages for Sustainable
Chemical Assessment
and MIT Green Chemical
Replacement
.

OPEN SOURCE TEXTS
Source:  M. Melia, SFGATE, 2-11-16, “Open-
source textbooks gain in push for college affordability

Article describes the texts as an aggregation of public
domain and Creative Commons sources.  The approach
takes advantage of funding sources requiring grant
recipients making their work available to wider
audiences.   There are certain pros and cons for
faculty, but the advantages for the students might
pave the way to broad adoption at least as an alternative.

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02/11/16
Professional Behavior. Time management
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mentoring, Leadership, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 1:15 pm

A colleague visited me asking for my thoughts on helping
her overcome a time management situation she faces.
Each day she comes into her laboratory in late morning
after sleeping late and having a little breakfast.  Her day
then involves responding to events, problems and questions from
others.  She finds herself staying late to complete work
she had started or was involved with in other people’s
projects.  Little of the work she wants to do moves forward.

What can she do?

It seems her direction lacked focus, not having determined
and communicated personal goals and objectives.  Once
these are done a gap analysis and timeline can be created.

She indicated she wanted to graduate in December, 2016
and we spoke about a fast track route by outlining and doing
literature research for a review article that she could write
about her methods and instrumentation.

Then, we spoke about setting daily and weekly agendas and
communicating with customers, collaborators and co-workers
a more disciplined approach.  In addition, she needed to identify
an accountability partner, someone who is interested, honest,
can remain confidential, and displays the behaviors of openness,
fast-response and care.

Other steps, captured by H. Bruch and S. Ghoshal in “Bias for
action,” includes:
1   Ask for feedback on plan and possible roadblocks
 2  Overcome negativity and build up excitement
 3  Visualize intention and make a personal commitment
 
Overcome ‘traps of inaction’
  1  develop an agenda\ reduce priorities, organize demands
   2  identify constraints and map trade-offs
   3  expand choices
   4  selectively break rules


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02/05/16
Professional Behaviors. Teamwork is not Collaboration.
Filed under: Recent Posts, First Year on Job, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 8:00 am

Read an interesting article summarizing arguments that
“collaboration has gone too far.”  It appears in the Economist
and reflects trends occurring with open office plans
and 24/7 electronic communication.  It may spill over
to technical professionals and managers.

Several authors (Newport, Cross, Gray) suggest that
collaboration can be overdone, as it disrupts routines
and distracts from prioritized tasks and responsibilities.

What confused me was the common belief that working
in teams is critical for success in many areas– big
projects
2forecasting and problem solving in areas
facing first time problems.  Isn’t there collaboration in
teamwork?  Collaboration can bring people together
for some shared objectives, while each has some competing
objectives.  Thus, the differences between teamwork
and collaboration appear in not having an arbitrator for
conflicts and many times do not have contractual arrangements.

Business Insider summary of HBR points out in an earlier
article the definition of terms.  Move to a collaborative
relationship
in cases when a company objective is important
enough to engage in collaboration, but does not require a
dedicated team.

Success, the earlier article subscribes, involves:
  commitment to work together, emotional engagement
  recognition of competence, respect of knowledge and experience
  cost/benefit decisions can be influenced and supported or
changed.
Yet collaboration is not a formal arrangement, not a team
with a leader or a contract-bound relationship.  It requires
a shorter term outcome and a timeline.


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02/02/16
Trends in Technical Careers. Resistance to therapies, Crowdfunding research, Teams and innovation
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, First Year on Job, Leadership, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 1:42 pm

Amazing new insights about working in the world of science and
technology poured out of a meeting last week while I was working
on other things.

They are so thoughtful and inspiring it is worth sharing them
and making the case that smaller (boutique) societies have
incredible value
.  What they aim to do is look for the unmet
needs of the larger, very topic oriented (silos of sub-disciplines).
They seek out the intersections of fields and the forefronts of
research
often outside of the realm of the larger industrial
organizations.

On reflection, three outstanding findings are shared in this
contribution about SlAS2016:  insights into resistance to
drug therapies of diseases
(cancers and ’superbugs’), crowdfunding
research, and tackling high risk, never performed team projects
with unknown outcomes.

Drug Resistance
Shana Kelley of UToronto reported chip based microfluidic
devices using electrochemical assays
to identify the bacteria
to know the proper therapies to apply.  Each year it is
estimated that 2 million  US cases of antibiotic resistant
infections, which can be caused by over use of prescription
drugs or employing the wrong agent for the infection.

An assay of redox active molecules that measures the levels
of metabolically active bacteria it the telling step in the device.
Anecdotally, having a tool like this available 90 years ago might
have saved Calvin Coolidge’s younger son.

Michael Gottesmann of NCI spoke about drug resistance found
during cancer treatment that involve at least four different
mechanisms:  target mutation, genetic mutation, cell type
changes and alterations of physiology (of blood or organs).
Cell models do not model in vivo gene expression.  calls for
coordinated treatment regimens of multiple mechanisms.

Crowdfunding
K Tom Pickard presented the case for a different research
sponsorship model that uses — “be viable or vanish”.   He cited
how this is becoming a viable approach to deal with shortfalls
in resources and seek out other sources that can have a
purposeful, entrepreneurial or doing the right thing motivation.

His primary focus is autism and he reported on use of
twitter, social media and kickstarter/ experiment.com .

Teamwork to achieve high risk goals
Adam Steitzner amazed the audience with the story of landing the
Mars Rover on the surface of Gale Crater  to answer the question
of whether there was/is life on Mars… 100 million miles away.
-   Separate people from ideas
-   Lunch with Enrico
       Get to know and like all the people you work with
-   Plan to change plans
-   Many times the answers we seek are in the questions
        Challenge all assumptions

comments (0)
02/01/16
Professional Behavior. Travel arrangements and problems
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 4:21 pm

The snowstorm moved up the east coast of the US last week.
Travel was snarled on the ground and, air and train traffic was
halted.  Government offices were closed.

I had a planned trip on the west coast for a meeting first thing
Monday morning.  Originally, I arranged travel on Sunday in enough time. 
All things needed to change.
ADVANTAGE TO FLY SOUTHWEST (SWA).
SWA does not charge a change fee if you have to make a change.

I rearranged to leave Saturday on the same carrier SWA and
planned to fly through Chicago, rather than Baltimore which seemed
likely to close due to the storm.  (It did.)

Then, I had to figure out where to stay for the one night early
arrival.  I searched for accommodations on several sites and found
they all were $170 and up, $250 in the convention vicinity.  I have
a rewards program with one of the vendors, so I went to the site.
$169, with a match a lower price offer on the webpage.  I searched
and found one at $129, PRINTED OUT THE PAGE and brought it
with me. 

(You usually have to have proof of a lower price to get approval
and have to show it at check-in.)

The flight was on time.  The hotel I chose was 1 mile from the airport
and had a free airport shuttle service.  So, I could be picked up from
the airport even at 11pm.  Service requests need to be made when
you book
, so I booked via their 800 number asking for a shuttle
pick-up.

At check in, I negotiated a $50 lower stay and asked for shuttle
service to my pre-arranged hotel for the meetings.

Then, catastrophe struck.  We had a death in the family requiring me
to leave the meeting early.  In the rush and over-burden of the
moment I misplaced my parking ticket at the final destination
airport.
Again, I called SWA and asked for help to change flights asking
for an additional flight, a bereavement flight.  They provided
a nice service at quite a reduced cost over the advertised price
due to the problem– again without a change fee.

Step by step we proceeded through the lengthened trip.  Then,
I had to negotiate with the car parking garage.  You can usually
deal with an experienced attendant as long as you have your
itinerary, license and auto registration with you
.

When making travel plans, think about the possibility of
travel plan changes, book with an airlines, hotel and auto
rental firms that allow changes and provide the services you
need.

Expect the unexpected and be prepared, having a copy of your
itinerary and registration with you (in the glove compartment).

comments (0)
01/21/16
Trends in Technical Careers. Ebola membrane binding, thorium nuclear reactors, protein quaternary structures
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 4:30 pm

Research leading to beneficial outcomes in chemically
related work is highlighted in this entry.  Each of them
provide opportunities whose long term value for
investors, for society and for technical careers is
not clear.  Nonetheless, it is a signature of this
blog to present such ideas.

EBOLA MEMBRANE PROTEINS BINDING
Ebola continues to strike humans as a resurfacing
public health risk in Africa.  GENEngNews carries
an article by Gail Dutton that describes epitope
mapping work leading to antibodies for potential
vaccines and therapies.

QUATERNARY PROTEIN STRUCTURE
What I appreciated about GENEngNews article on
proteins was the practical outcomes that 92% of
known studied structures are described by a classification
scheme, 4% of which appear to be misclassified.

Having a model now allows the development of simple rules
of possible assembly types and the mechanisms, pathways
and self-assembly influences.

Implications for bioengineering and for exploring non-
systematic observations are mentioned.  While much of
the above information is given in CEN of 12-18.  It would
be nice to see authoritative commentary on the model. and
the PubMed (free) link.  This is an example of interdisciplinary
work spurred by results of mass spectrometry studies.

THORIUM NUCLEAR POWER
There is a new series in Netflix that starts with global
warming leading to the EU to stop the flow of petroleum
and point out the development of Th nuclear energy.
The Economist talked about this recently.  Most
critical discussion I have discovered was in the comments
to the Economist article
that revealed the technological
roadblock, some attempts at remedies and suggesting
possible more successful nuclear energy fuel sources
might be developed.

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