The NESACS Blog
From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
Categories:

Archives:
Meta:
November 2017
S M T W T F S
« Oct    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  
10/31/17
Financial Considerations in your first Work Decade
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, First Year on Job, Technicians, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 6:00 pm

You learn and train in a wide range of technical skills,
develop writing ability creating public relations documents,
perfect public speaking and presentations in universities.

.
Do you get an introduction into solid financial practices
and decisions when you start your career?  From a number
of recent interactions I sense most don’t have those 
conversations or know people they can feel comfortable 
to ask.
.
Some situations, for example:
- start at a position and get reduced in staff in less than
a year;  Immediate actions
- decisions at sign-up starting a position at the new 
company-  stock options
- accepting an offer and relocation benefits
- financial planning questions and answers
.
Columbia University offers ten items worth bringing 
to mind.  The last hits home — money is not an end in
itself, it is a means to create personal satisfaction and
value.  Leading among the ten items are:
1.  figure out your required and optional expenses
2.  include creating an emergency fund, insuring yourself
and life essential properties
3.  manage your loans, payments, and credit record.
The time value of money can be estimated by the
rule 
of 72
“.
.
The financial world is changing constantly.  The recommendations
and rules of the past in general may not be applicable.  
Think 401Ks, IRAs, pension plans, how you use tax returns
and estimated tax payments.  
.
Create a “financial notebook” for yourself as a continuing learning
tool.  Learn from your mistakes.
.
Seek financial counselors or mentors you can go to.
.
If you work for the federal government, student loans can be 
forgiven.
.
Beware of becoming overly dependent on algorithms for
decision-making.
.
Suze Orman offered seven helpful tips useful at all ages.
3 comments
09/28/17
Negotiations. 8. Relocation Benefits
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), First Year on Job, Post-docs, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 8:03 am

I received a request from PP after he received a long
sought after job offer.  He accepted the offer which he
pointed out included a $2000 relocation reimbursement.

.
“…Since this is my first industry based job, best
professional practices to follow as a new employee.  
One item is the company has not followed up on its $2K 
relocation allowance, which they offered during phone and 
on-site interviews.

Other things not mentioned in the hard offer was processing
my O-1 work visa.

I am expected to relocate in early November.  Please let me
know what you think about my relocation allowance?” 

1. HOW TO ACCEPT AN OFFER
It is critical to understand your critical first step in accepting 
a job offer.  Besides signing the appropriate document, you
should devise an acceptance letter that re-affirms key elements
of the offer letter agreement and items that were discussed in
all the interviews and information exchanges.  This should be
sent either at the same time as the acceptance documents or 
soon after.

Included in the letter is a request to know a direct contact person
to whom you can consult with issues, questions and concerns.
You should be able to contact them at any time and feel 
welcomed. 

You should ask for a company annual report and employee
handbook.

ADDRESSING ISSUES
Clearly, this acceptance letter would specifically address 
relocation and working visa processing.

2. RELOCATION INFORMATION
The Balance blog lists things that can be included, and
should be confirmed orally and confirmed in writing:
  - househunting, including transportation, hotel and meals
  - costs of selling and purchasing, including closing costs,
commissions, legal and recordkeeping expenses
  - Position searching help for spouse
  - travel expenses and temporary housing for the move
  - Temporary housing in cases where the home is not
readily available
  - moving company expenses and logistics for packing
loading, unloading and unpacking, as well as insurances

Please realize that the details of the relocation policy
need to be confirmed 
and in writing.  Also it is critical to
confirm the specifics of what  forms, receipts and
timing of submission / reimbursement in advance.

I recommended that PP should not be hindered from
asking for information and suggestions at any time.

A more comprehensive relocation benefit discussion
is provided by Money-zine

Not to be lost in this discussion is the tax breaks you are
entitled to for job change as long as it involves a move
of employer greater than 600 miles.  Please note that if
the job search occurs over a significant period of time
with various expenses they can all be claimed, but you
are responsible for keeping receipts (credit card
documents may be enough, if accompanied by expense
detail.).

3. VISA DISCUSSIONS
You should not shy away from pursuing a firm understanding
of responsible people, timelines and your role in employment
papers.  This has been a topic in this blog.  We know the
visa situation has changed and will change again so it is
critical to be well informed and have a back up plan.

comments (0)
09/27/17
Consulting Roles. Things to take away from a dated publication on Consulting
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, First Year on Job, Post-docs, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 4:07 pm

Visiting an experienced technical professional, I asked
how he would help people who are thinking of a consulting
career..  He gave me a text by William Cohen, “How to
Make it big as a Consultant.
”  Then we discussed some things.

The Cohen book was more than 30 years old and did not
include any Internet related nor association-network approaches.
.
In Cohen are listed direct methods for contacting customers–
1- direct mail
2- cold calls
3- direct response ads
4- directories and yellow pages
5- former employees and directors.
.
So he does not get into push pull marketing so much in the 
Internet age.  It all seems to be “push” marketing.  It is
confirmed by the “indirect methods”…
a- speaking to groups
b- newsletters
c- professional associations
d- articles and books
e- letters to editors
f- teach a course and lead a seminar
g- public releases and broadcast releases.
.
These are all still applicable, but likely not relevant!
.
Clearly having a proactive web page, linkedin page and
pull marketing strategy is not known in 1985 when the
book was written.  There are several other approaches .
.
It is not an easy task and one that evolves rapidly.
.
Now there is something in addition to learn from this
exercise….check the publication date of the book, and,
see if there is a more recent edition.  There is in this
particular case.
 
1 comment
09/12/17
Financial Questions. Start-up Stock Options Offer
Filed under: Recent Posts, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, First Year on Job, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 1:21 pm

This note points out that when you end your academic career,
your continuous learning process really ‘begins.’  And guess
what, there are no texts for this learning and no absolute, correct
answers.

.
What we learn is that mentors can help you ask the best questions
and it seems each individual’s situation and priorities are different.
.
My colleague AJ asked:

“I also wanted to seek your opinion on employee stock options.
As a part  of the offer, the company extended an option to
purchase 2500 shares of stock…the company  is not public.
….attached is a document here for reference.
Before signing, I just thought of having a word with you.”

.
Each situation is different, but the specific wording and specific
details of the offer are very important.

My experience is that I trusted the public relations of a firm
I worked for and purchased many shares of stock with the
promise of growth and profits.  In the end, I lost a great deal
of investment dollars that I could have avoided if I studied
the investor literature and consulted wise counselors.

.
AJ advised me that he is contributing 8% of his salary in the
company 401K and has some short term expenses.  He will
check into the latest date when he must decide.  My advice to
him:
I totally understand your quandary.  I would have a similar problem
with this question, so I refer to Al Sklover Link is where I would start.  

[He describes critical questions AJ should ask before signing any 
documents.] 

Then, the next article is quite significant: in that it describes “traps” we
can find ourselves in when working at a start up.
It may be worth speaking with Al directly:
.
This could be a sizable dollar commitment for you, AJ.  Al is
very professional and knowledgeable.  $100 spent on solid legal 
advice can result in much more savings in a speculative situation.
 
comments (0)
08/12/17
Self Assessment Reflection.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, First Year on Job, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 6:41 am

Yesterday’s first year graduate student seminar involved
a pre-class homework assignment.  

http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/types2.asp 
Since the group was large, eleven of the 16 preference
types were represented.  That meant that there were a
variety of learning styles in the seminar.  
.
The larger group size meant that we could not go into
detail into each individual preference class.  
.
We did reveal how preferences can influence us in both
subtle and explicit ways by asking each individual their
name and whether they were left or right handed and
whether they liked cats or dogs.  These are preferences
that are genetic and influenced by our early life 
experiences… much the same as MBTI.
.
To maximize the experience we had each person
sit with their own similar preference groups and
complete and compare a Values and a Behaviors
instruments to go after an emotional understanding
They learned that despite similar MBTI profiles their
values and behaviors revealed different trends and
these are also important to learn in working in teams.
.
The second half of the seminar involved two
exercises– one involved discussing projects which
troubled several since they had to come up with their
own project and a physical constructing project where
they had to describe their result.
-In the first, one outstanding group had an individual
take leadership and point out how each person, by 
name,  would contribute to the expected outcome.
.
-In the second we had a group presenter relate a 
story to describe their constructed model  she asked
for a volunteer to participate in a short role play and
provided a reward for the participant.
.
In short, they learned about themselves, about 
working together in teams and how to interact
with others and develop a baseline for continuing
learning about themselves– this session was not
over at the end, but a beginning.
3 comments
08/04/17
Legal Issues. Contracts, Taxes and Beneficiaries
Filed under: Recent Posts, Job Offer (Situations), First Year on Job, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 5:43 am

You should start early in paying attention to legal issues. 
Online resources can provide some questions for you to ask.

They can also alert you to steps that you should take at
various points in your life span.
.
PENALTIES RESULTING FROM RETIREE ACTION
SOURCE:  Fidelity Investment (highlighting Kiplinger report)
Social Security benefits reduction and earnings test 
RMD Required minimum distribution from IRAs after 70 1/2
Medicare sign-up regulations and penalties
Estate taxes (consider forming a revocable trust document)
.
BENEFICIARY LISTS
SOURCE: Fidelity Investments 2
A no cost estate planning step you should regularly update
is your savings, investment accounts and property ownership
beneficiaries.  It is too easy to make assumptions and assume
your wishes will be followed.  Specific forms should be
regularly updated while you are in good health and mental
fitness. 
.
If this reminder gets you to look at your beneficiaries, it 
is worth posting.
.
POWERS OF ATTORNEY
SOURCE:  Fidelity Investments 3
Work with an attorney to formulate these directives as laws
and interpretations of wording can be specific and different.
.
I have spoken with each of our adult children about this
step that almost no one wants to think about until it is too 
late.
.
AGREEMENTS.  THE IMPORTANCE OF “ROAD SIGNS”
SOURCE:  Sklover Working Wisdom
Another amazingly important entry talks about unsavory
things that can happen when documents are not properly
formulated.  This means page numbering, dating, headings
and information ‘to be filled in later.’
.
This topic of reading contracts is not a common topic, as
we often do not bother reading the details of formalities.
It is very important in employment, loan, severance, 
noncompete and many other documents.  So, it is worth
each of you to have a knowledgeable and interested third
party look at your documents with your interests in mind.
(Remember, they are constructed to serve the interest of
the other party.) 
comments (0)
07/28/17
Watch-Outs. 104. First Impressions, Trust Documents for your Estate/Assets, Legal Trends
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 9:57 am

When we encounter people and when people encounter you
and I, initial impressions are made.  It is subconscious and
as the old saw goes, ‘first impressions are lasting
impressions.’  This entry offers some tips of things to avoid.

.
Yesterday, we had a successful appointment with a trust 
attorney with a firm we had vetted 15 years ago to update our
Revocable trust.  It is useful to share why you should consider
creating a trust for your family to manage your assets and
affairs.  It is your chance to spell out your desires while you
have the faculties.  
.
During our meeting with the trust attorney, several things 
tipped me off to look a little further into the attorney we
met.  I learned several things that should be no surprise but
piqued my curiosity…the attorney was a temporary contract
attorney, we met in a “branch” office in a LLC professional
building  with a collection of small firms, and there were no other
firm members and staff.  What questions should I ask and how
should I professionally explore this “gig” economy reality
in the legal field?
.
MISTAKES THAT SPOIL A  FIRST IMPRESSION
SOURCE:  4 H’s to avoid in self promotion
Humblebrag, Hubris, Hypocrisy, [Back-]Handed Compliment
.
The British Psychological Society listed these four behaviors
that can knock a person down a notch –
(1) humblebrag– ‘I am to busy…’ in a way to avoid or shift 
away by implying self importance.
(2) hubris– downward social comparisons;  [I recall a post-doc
doing this to me while I was in grad school]
(3) hypocrisy– pointing out someone’s failure that you might be
caught duplicating;  politician’s seem to reveal this in a 
noticeable way
(4) back-handed compliment– complimenting others puffing
up personal importance.
.
TRUSTS:  LEGAL ENTITIES PROFESSIONALS SHOULD
CONSIDER TO MANAGE YOUR ESTATE
SOURCE:  Ameriprise Financial
.
After your professional education and your career begins
other responsibilities accrue to you.  Your future, to be sure,
is not certain.  You need to think through and provide wisely
for unexpected situations.  Trusts are set up for you by
legal counsel to provide for you and your family in cases
where you are not able.
.
There are several estate planning vehicles for different
circumstances.  We are working on an update to a 15 year
old package that needs to factor in family, law and practical
implementation changes.  (we had a simple will at 35,
first revocable trust at 52)
Financial trust attorney recommend providing your choices
at specific milestones.
.
LEGAL ADVICE:  CONTRACT ATTORNEYS
SOURCE:  Lexology
.
Legal advice that we pay for is important and requires that
we perform due diligence.  To provide legal services to clients
at competitive costs firms substitute contract attorneys
for staff.  In many instances  I have read people have obtained
the services they sought.
.
Nonetheless, we need to look into any situation  which might
be different and unusual.  It is hard to use Martindale Hubbell
for exploring.
.
It is important to document the formal employment arrangement
of your attorney and liability insurance coverage at or right
after the first meeting.
Fortunately, I learned our attorney is formally listed at the
firm and covered by all liability and malpractice insurance.
1 comment
07/14/17
Professional Behaviors. Speaking with your Boss
Filed under: Recent Posts, First Year on Job, Leadership, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 12:49 pm

A recent seminar on Overcoming Fears Uncertainty and 
Doubts pointed out things you should learn to do while
in graduate school.  Two leading ones the group pointed
out were:
   knowing how to speak with your boss

   knowing how to have difficult conversations with people.
.
These are no doubt situational things and depend on several
factors.  That is part of the learning that we need to do.  It is
important to develop this understanding while in graduate school.
.
Money Magazine (8-17 issue, 38ff) formed extra reading for 
our conversation about how to speak to a boss
  - for a raise and at review time
  - after making a mistake
  - challenges at home
  - have a major health issue
.
Flipboard shared a creditable piece about having hard  conversations
with people by Garfinkle.
  - begin with a perspective of respect and curiosity
  - avoiding conversations does not make problems go away
  - listen intently, respond with the other’s ideas first, and avoid
partial listening while planning to say what is on our mind
  - recognize cultural differences and determine how to be
direct (clear statements, not circular logic).
comments (0)
06/09/17
Economics in the Chemical Enterprise. Career Management. Tips for managing the attention economy
Filed under: Mentoring, First Year on Job, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 6:28 am

Herbert Simon is credited with recognizing that in a
data rich world what is critical is managing audience
attention.  Combined with the attitude that audiences
prefer A I D A, the digital media promoters code…

attention,
     interest,
         desire,
            action
,
we lose our focus, disturb our direction and slow our progress.
.
Leaders of the digital and media organizations realize this
and take advantage of the uninformed.  It is critical that
technical professionals understand this and improve the
way we manage ourselves, our colleagues and teams.
.
The technical world including the chemical enterprises is
dominated by the “attention economy.”  Earlier this blog posted
the influence of robotics and artificial intelligence in career
management in the chemical enterprises.  Financialization
also dominates chemical enterprises.  
.
Recently, Tristan Harris’s work was discussed on HBO where
he described what we can do to contain and manage attention
hijacks which Kevin Kelly referred to in The Inevitable.  Harris
prescribes actions we can take to contain the outside influences
that digital media and devices introduce in his web site: 
time well spent   
.
Tristan’s article
is must read for each of us interested in proactively
managing our attention and careers.
1 comment
05/27/17
Trends in Technical Careers. Resources for Unpredictable Futures
Filed under: First Year on Job, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:50 am

We have brought up Mlodinow’s book, Subliminal, that offers
that human’s memory faculties are faulty.  One suggestion is to
create a research notebook for yourself– it could be new business
ideas, new research projects, new and improved products…

.
We cannot sit still in this fast evolving world.  We have minimal
memory resources, until computers evolved, and we can easily
store ideas, links and lists.  
.
This entry offers two trends worth noting that you may incorporate,
even if you are not currently engaged in fields.  Things are both
changing and unpredictable and it helps to try to be open-minded
both to new directions and opportunities.
.
DRUG DISTRIBUTION:  MALDI-MSI
Cornett offered an keen review of an approach yielding new 
insights into risk assessment of pharma candidates .  Matrix-
assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectral imaging is
used to visualize where in samples chemicals and metabolites
are distributed in model system sections.
.
Cornett indicates that this tool might be required to
inform decisions on regulatory submissions, as it offers
deeper understanding of pharmacology and toxicology.
.
NOVEL CHEMISTRY:  COMMERCE
Novel chemistry is found in patent literature, chemical journals
and offered by custom chemical firms.  If it were one and 
done, it would not be so special.  
TCI Tokyo Chemical Industries 
Co. Ltd., America
provides a substantial series of categories of ideas and resources.  
Here are several:
-  Glycoscience building blocks
-  Liquid Crystal building blocks
-  Pharmaceutical Ingredients
-  Review articles on various topics
.
The idea is to open up our resource notebook to various inputs
for continuous learning.
1 comment
05/22/17
Job Market for Career Growth. Think beyond the first position
Filed under: Position Searching, First Year on Job, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 12:34 pm

So often articles and blog entries talk about hiring trends
for recent graduates.  When I peruse them, it seems most
are either anecdotal (few specific examples highlighting
certain concepts) or statistical summaries that are often time
a year or more earlier than the date of publication.

.
This entry looks at your second and subsequent positions.  So,
in another perspective, we can take a longer, career view.  
A career is a process, not an outcome, with many transactions
involving
     -learning new skills,
     -defining your strengths and building on them, and
     -articulating your values so that others will understand
and appreciate you and your contributions.
.
As scientists, commenters bring up the discussion of being
involved in a “profession.”  A nice description of a profession is
that of an occupation formed by setting up formal qualifications
offered by education, internship/apprenticeship and examination,
a regulatory organization which admits and restricts and has a
code of behavior.
.
Honestly, however, scientific disciplines, like chemistry, may not
be bound by discipline tracks
 when thinking about job markets.  
This may be less important when we look at markets for
our careers. 
Jan Osburn wrote a remarkable article on career mistakes
that hinder personal growth and happiness that we obtain from
careers.  I contend these apply to advance degreed scientists.  
.
Let me highlight five frames of mind that restrict the “real job market:”
1.  hold off pursuing positions of interest due to <100% match to
musts and wants [lack of confidence, weak in resilience, fear of
failure;  be willing to learn on the job and seek help]
.
2.  lack of self assessment knowing your strengths and what makes
you thrive and be constantly challenged and engaged. [engage
psychological and economic instruments outside of your employment
chain of command]
.
3.  fall behind in your learning curve of new skills and experiences
to those who extend themselves [could be in work environment and
professional/ volunteer organizations]
.
4.  fail to take an outsider’s perspective of your industry, organization
and department.  This can be a situation where you ‘coast’ for a while.
It is important to continue connecting and keeping up with your
network.
.
5.  miss opportunities to learn about branding your skills and abilities
and be visible in more than one organization.   In the information era,
this can seem to be trying things that are not immediately rewarded
in one organization, but opens up opportunities in another.
[no funding to attend a professional meeting;  become a volunteer, 
offer to assume organizational responsibilities, show that you can be
counted on] 

comments (0)
05/16/17
Remembering Names 2. F-A-C-E & C-H-A-R-M
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, First Year on Job, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 8:29 am

Some people are in roles that it is an asset to remember and
use people’s names.  Sales, interviewing, teaching, politics and
guess what, leadership roles.

.
[They offer F-A-C-E:  Face the person, Ask how they like to be
called, Cross reference to links, Employ the name in conversation.]
.
In a recent podcast I learned another acronym that might be useful
to recall names that gives useful advice:  C-H-A-R-M. from Jim
Kwik
 - Care.  Showing that you care enough to remember a person’s 
name reveals a connection.
 - Hearing.  Often we are thinking of something else when another
person offers their name.  our attention is not focused on listening
closely, Distraction leads to not hearing.
 - Ask.  How do you spell it?  Where does it come from?  What is 
the meaning or who were you named after?  How would you like to
be called?
 -  Repeat  Say the name and impress yourself with the name, situation,
origin/factoid.
 - Marker.  imagine the names spelled on their face, or link their face to
another face with the same name and jot it down in another medium.
.
Previous blog entry offered consistent ideas.
comments (0)
04/25/17
Publication Thoughts and Questions
Filed under: Position Searching, First Year on Job, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:09 am

Meeting with many Ph.D. candidates who fret about
not having accomplished a series of publications in
peer reviewed journals is confounding these days.  
Why so?

.
What is the criterion for being granted a degree?
.
Can you publish just anywhere, not just in high impact
factor journals?
.
Is peer review of a journal article a justifiable measure?
.
What do we do in controversial topic areas when bias
can enter into decisions?
.
What do we do in the digital era which has replaced 
the papyrocentric model pre-1990?
.
RESEARCH AND HALF LIFE OF FACTS
Further enlightenment about the pursuit of “truth” is
that, as Uri Alon so elegantly described, research invites
us to go down a variety of ‘blind allies‘ before finding
a fruitful path.  The write up glosses over the learning
by failure and describes the “obvious” positive direction,
showing how novel and precise the idea is.
.
Samuel Arbesman looks back on the search for “truth”
and finds most being only half-correct as time moves 
forward.
.
So why is getting published in a journal so crucial?
.
I get it that graduate degrees are conferred by judging
work being of such quality meriting publication.  
Martin Paul Eve nicely describes the fuzziness of this
criterion since it could be published just anywhere after
rejections.  As we know, rejection does not mean lack
of value either. 
.
The peer review process is not exempt from bias either.
.
As we are into the third decade of the Internet era of
publication providing OA Open Access there are many
ways to both read and access articles and publish our 
work. 
.
This raises questions about what is a valid way of
demonstrating the level of expertise for a degree, even
for granting tenure and promotion. 
comments (0)
04/13/17
Professional Behavior. Suggestions for Salary Increases
Filed under: Mentoring, First Year on Job, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 5:51 am

Many articles we find about requesting for salary
increments overlook the need to do three things– 

*  perform consistently well in meeting and exceeding your’s
and your team’s goals [time in grade is often insufficient],
*  gather critical information about pay, time in grade and value
to the organization, and
*  have a proposal for your continued growth plan and how it
contributes to the organization [it is helpful to have mentors
who are knowledgeable about the organization, policies and
culture].
.
One article offered:
 - separate salary conversations from performance review meetings, so
that you demonstrate you are not focusing as being money-driven.
 - know that a timely one-on-one can be helpful in supporting the
value you provide to the organization with a successful project 
completion 
 - ‘plant the seed’ for an increase before the organization’s budget
planning (article indicates 3-4 months, is that too early?) 
 - practice what you are going to say, plan for interruptions, and
have a back-up plan
comments (0)
02/24/17
Career Path Choices. Preferences, Luck and Skill
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, First Year on Job, Mature professionals, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 9:28 am

This week we talked about what is valued and sought for in

individuals when they seek different career paths.  Then we
began a two part discussion of soft  2 [listing in comments],
hard and wise skills that benefit professionals.
We pointed out that much of our life is quite unpredictable
and that what we start out wanting, doing and behaving 
changes throughout our life.  An interesting piece in Quartz
reported on statistical data where in the past we could reflect
on anecdotal instances in changes.
In the short term there remains a consistency in our wanting
doing and behaving, however.  Here we might pose that Luck
and Skill arbitrate on what happens in our careers.
CAREERS  =  LUCK  +  SKILLS
                        LUCK = preparation + opportunity + attitude
                                       + action
                                                         / Hard
                                          SKILLS  -Soft
                                                         \ Wise
We suggested it is useful to set objectives, develop a plan
to achieve them and look for opportunities to be and act
professionally along the way.  Build your committed network,
ask for help, create and learn from “teachable moments”,
continuously learn, and be optimistic.
Two pieces of feedback from our class offered questions–
1- how can I network better?  What should I learn and practice?
[understand your current personal values, behaviors and emotional
make-up;  small talk, understand others’ make-ups and adapt
to achieve win-win outcomes] 
2-  it seems like the skills you list are just things to trick people on.
What is the basis for each item on the list, they wondered.
[real life often is a series of unpredictable events with little time
to think.  Thus our habits will determine our behaviors.  We wish
to figure out what our habits are modify them to be more effective.]
It is hard for some to learn that professional work is strongly
influenced by our cultural, personal and value-based habits.
It is often the case that how you do something is as important as
the outcomes that you achieve.  Sometimes the result is “pure 
luck” but as we know we “create much of our luck”.
1 comment
01/31/17
Small talk suggestions. Patrick King tips.
Filed under: Interviewing, Networking, Mentoring, First Year on Job
Posted by: site admin @ 4:10 pm

Reading a book that you may wish to get your hands on.

That is if you are interested in improving your “small
talk” skill.
I know I am.  So let me tell you more.  I am visiting several
friends and new acquaintances and am looking at how I can
improve my “connectability.”  We have brought up the critical
nature of this “co-curricular” practice”.
Patrick King wrote “The art of witty banter…” that offers
ideas that are encapsulated in three acronyms for different
circumstances.

HPM                         SBR                          EDR
draws on memory,    focused on topic       focused 
experiences and                                          on exploring
opinions
focused on you
History -                    Specific                     Emotion

Philosophy                Broad                         Details

Metaphor                  Related                       Restatement 

==========================================
H
   reply to comment
using personal experiences on a topic
this reminds me of…
what a coincidence…..

  personal stance on a topic
I always enjoyed….

M
   metaphor
there was a famous quote ….
this allows for a subtle change of topic
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

S
  ask to go deeper, more specific

B
  ask to springboard into subtopics

R
  explore into tangential topics
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

E
   It seems to me you feel ….  You are…. Other people’s emotions

D
   define the details
what were they wearing…
how was the weather…. How did you deal with it…

R
   employ 5 Ws to complete a restatement
is this what you mean?….

comments (0)
12/13/16
Preparing for Decision-Making. Ethics
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), First Year on Job, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:31 am

Reading a blog entry by B. Perlmutter, reminded me of
a section in the second class of our Professional Development
class.  What I like about it is that he  creates a nice context
and story about factors we need to consider in making
decisions. 

Our class offers fewer steps and a template to consider
classroom exercises that students might face now and
will possibly face in the future.
Template steps:
1  determine the facts
2  identify the stakeholders
3  identify the ethical choices
4  make a decision
5  double check the decision

Perlmutter frames his process and story in terms of situations
and risks to reputations in a golf tournament.  Early in his
ethical process, he points out recognizing ethical problems,
even before knowing the stakeholders, interests and
alternatives. 

At first, this order of process steps is not one better than
another but a different perspective about something
scientists and engineers are not often trained to think. 
Ethics can be ambiguous and relative.  In Perlmutter’s
perspective, ethics needs to be considered earlier.  I
think this can be good and a point of emphasis.

Not long ago, this blog offered a legal perspective of
ethical decision-making
.  It appears different than the
first two in that it asks questions about legality,
reputation and consistency with values.

We need to understand that different people will
make a case for processing their thinking.  Forni
I think states it best and has me thinking Perlmutter
says it best for me.  Forni  outlines the urgency to
develop and place good thinking habits as
a priority.  Good thinking makes having thought,
having thought leads to a wider range of viable
choices;  Good choices offer the chance for good
decisions that lead to a good life that lead to
happiness. [paraphrased].

Perlmutter’s process is documented in the
comment.

2 comments
11/15/16
Undergraduate Job Search Workshop.
Filed under: Position Searching, First Year on Job, Technicians, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 1:31 pm

Last weekend we were part of a team presenting a job search
workshop for undergraduate chemistry field majors
at UConn. 
It was well attended and provi ded resume reviews and mock
interviews in addition to four topical discussions tuned to this
audience’s needs.

Four discussion areas from the day workshop are presented to readers.
 1.  Thesis or non-thesis masters is a graduate school option that was
new to many.  The thesis option involves a specialized project with
a professor.  It can require a longer term of study due to the research
in your domain.  The non-thesis option often involves a mini project
or a comprehensive exam to meet the requirements of the degree. 
The exam is taken after you have completed certain courses.

Choosing the thesis option can allow you to receive an assistantship
during your program.

Some fields prefer the thesis option as it allows a learning by doing
a new project to come up with outcomes.  If funding is limited, a
project reaches an end or facilities are not available the non-thesis
option
can be preferred.  Some fields, like geology, have reported the
non-thesis option has advantages as reported a Colorado School of mines.

 2.  Some firms reportedly use Jobvite to facilitate hiring.  People
have reported problems uploading their documentsJobvite specifies
that resumes need to be Word or “unlocked PDF” file formats
and that after uploading to populate application fields, you need to
use the attach button to include part for your application file.

You need to follow uploading instructions to the T.  Some instructions
include word limits, some seek a specific number of writing samples,
and others have specific deadline dates .

Barbara Safani points out that many people make the mistake of
taking their formatted Word document and uploading it into a text
box
on a company website.  Formatting is lost.  So it is prudent to
follow the specific job search instructions.

 3.  Traveling to an onsite interview can be a challenge.  Ask for
specific directions
to specific gates before you go.  Know who you
are to meet and their telephone number
in case of a delay, expecting
to arrive 10-15 minutes before your scheduled first meeting time.

Interestingly a number of companies now require following ITAR
regulations
.  Thus to facilitate the special ITAR badge bring your
passport with you if you are an international candidate.

 4.  I was surprised that my colleagues felt it was fine to ask about
salary during the onsite interview
.  This might be the case, if you
had a very promising position in hand or were working in a good
position already.
You should always be ready to respond to a salary requirements
question
or what has been your salary in the past three positions…
There are pitfalls for coming in low or coming in high.  So, a response
to that query would be here is a range and you would consider any
reasonable offer where you can make a difference doing something you
are good at.

comments (0)
11/11/16
Listening. 2. Five aspects to focus on
Filed under: Interviewing, First Year on Job, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 4:21 pm

This post reports on a class given graduate students on
Listening Skills.  It was inspired by Nichols and Stevens,
yet the concepts described by Brenda Bailey-Hughtes and
Tatiana Kolovou
were built upon with practical exercises
which were specifically reviewed for teachable moments
and subliminally presented for different learning styles.

The class contained an international audience.  We have learned that
some  non native English speakers found  other behavioral 
psychology topics challenging.
Listening, filled with practical exercises giving examples of how 
we need to focus and 
how we selectively listen to people focusing on one aspect or
another.
.
Yet we have have to listen to many aspects:
 - details and specific facts
 - understanding the big picture
 - evaluating the content
 - observing and understanding nonverbal cues
 - empathizing with the speaker
.
The audience was encouraged to focus on improving their two weakest 
aspects and develop specific plan to make improvements.  Standing out
were pay attention to the “big picture”, nonverbal displays and 
hijacks that limit our rational thinking and attention.
comments (0)
10/06/16
Applying Self Assessment Results.
Filed under: Position Searching, First Year on Job, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 8:17 am

Honestly, there is a special combination of formal
learning, study and experience that allows us to gain
self knowledge from assessment instruments.  

.
What is still harder is to guide others to explore their
emotional make-up, values and behaviors.
.
It can be more of a challenge to offer intelligent people who 
are from different cultural backgrounds (international and 
educational training) to perceive the interpretative benefits.
.
Nonetheless we attempted to bring out interpretations 
of instruments that a graduate school class had taken and
apply it to achieve better teaching.  
.
Great teaching, the Economist cited Rob Coe of Durham
University is comprised of 
A - Your motives (and student’s motives)
B - interactions with peers
C - using time well
D - fostering behavior and high expectations
E - planned instruction with goals and strategies
F - pedagogical content
A is a function of our values.
B, C, D are functions of our behaviors.
E, F are functions of our specific training and experience.
.
So we reviewed MBTI ‘middle two’ preferences
that identified
ST:  getting ‘it’ right and efficiency 
SF:  service to others and improving people’s lives
NF: helping people fulfill their potential
NT: mastering knowledge and developing systems
These reinforce our behaviors and reflect our fears,
inhibitions and approaches (emotional side).
.
We used Tony Alessandra’sRelationship Strategies
to bring out the interpretations of the behavior instrument
scores.  There a several test identifiers that we linked to
the Alessandra model
“dominant director” = driving or dominance
“interactive socializer” = expressive or extroversion
“steady relator” = amiable or stability
“cautious thinker” = analytical or control
.
Commonly, our experience is that individuals do not have
just one behavioral preference identifier, but perhaps is
a combination of two.  The use involves hard work in
studying your self and others to develop approaches to
achieve positive outcomes.  This is important in critical
rather than casual interactions.
.
We did not find the “Values Instrument” giving unique
and helpful information for teaching excellence.  So, 
we performed 2 minute interviews with each student 
exploring motivation, mentors, influences on choices.
.
It was surely a different topic for this class.  I can
imagine it very hard for some international students
to walk away with a benefit other than the “take home”
messages.
comments (0)