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From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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02/11/19
Professional Profile. 5.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Networking, Job Offer (Situations), First Year on Job, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:04 am


Profile: Policy & Advocacy Fellow at Society for Neuroscience


- What do you say when asked about your personal style and responsibilities?

In terms of overall work, I like to be given a project and work independently, while knowing where to go for help if needed. It’s also very important for me to know where my work fits into the overall mission of the group, and that we all work together towards a common goal- that is usually very motivating for me. I also typically enjoy being given a great deal of responsibility in my work, as I take that as a sign of trust and therefore try to achieve the goals at hand as best I can. I try to utilize these principles in my current job, where I am part of a great team and also feel that I am given enough freedom to learn, explore, and manage projects and assignments. We have plenty of meetings about various aspects of the work, which is very helpful. I enjoy the group interactions as well as the independent work.  


- Are you challenged?  What stresses you?

I’m challenged every day in the sense that I am faced with having to find something, learn a new system or vocabulary- sometimes I am challenged in terms of time constraints, other times because I am working on a task that I’ve never done before. But this also contributes to the value of this experience. I was lucky enough to be given this opportunity to be a Policy & Advocacy Fellow at Society for Neuroscience. This is my first exposure to working in a department where there is a blend of biomedical PhDs and those from other backgrounds, and first time working for a scientific society and seeing how that works, while also learning more about policy & advocacy. I enjoy being fully immersed in all the novel experiences in this position, whether they are in the office, or outside going to Hill events (which is a lot of fun!). What stresses me is sometimes the element of surprise or changing circumstances, meetings or tasks, although currently I am fascinated by everything and soaking it all in. In general, I like stability, but in some cases, especially if it’s something I am interested in and wanting to learn more about, I welcome chaos and embrace new things no matter how hectic it is, because I know it’s a tremendous learning opportunity and I feel passionate about it. I suppose a lot of how we approach life comes down to our attitude towards things- if we think that something is exciting and we are grateful for it, we will enjoy it more. I am also stressed sometimes about not knowing what comes next in my career, however from past experience, my plans don’t usually work out but something else works out which typically turns out to be even better than I could have ever imagined. So I’m trying to learn a bit of the art of “going with the flow” and seeing where my interests and passions will lead, and enjoy the process.


- Describe your title, how long you have been in your role and your most enjoyable responsibilities and tasks.

I am the Policy & Advocacy Fellow at Society for Neuroscience. I started in this role on January 2, 2019. I enjoy having variety in my day, therefore the ideal day is a combination of office work and Hill time, which is not very common (although Hill Day in March will be exciting). The idea of interacting with people outside the office during the workday for networking is really important, and I’m trying to also take advantage of living in D.C. and engage in experiences outside of work as well, because there is so much here for me to learn from and I don’t want to miss useful opportunities. In terms of specifics, I enjoy drafting letters and working on excel sheets with information, especially if I know what the goal for them is, and in particular if they are collaborative efforts. It’s exciting to contribute to a collective project in the office, but I also enjoy being out of the office to and getting some practical experience.


- How did you land your current position?  
Do you continuously keep an open
mind to changing positions?  
How long should we stay in our positions?

I had some prior science policy experience. Once I realized that I wanted to pursue this as a career path, I applied to relevant jobs that fit my background. Out of all the jobs I applied to and interviewed for, this was my favorite, so I am very happy to be in it now. I searched for and applied to jobs for some time, and in the process learned the right level of job to apply for, my application materials improved and my Skype interview skills sharpened with each conversation. This position just happened to be there at the right time, I was very excited about it (which probably showed in the process!) and it was just a really good fit overall. I was happy to learn that, when I got the position, everyone in the office unanimously voted that it should be me. I am reminded of this every day and I am really grateful for how accepting and welcoming they have been towards me since the very beginning. I’m also lucky to be in a really good working environment, which I didn’t always have. I think we should stay in our positions for as long as we are still learning and growing in them, and when it starts becoming boring and not useful, switch. We should not switch if it’s challenging, however, only if there are good reasons to do it. We should always be striving to better ourselves and thus look for that next thing that will allow us to accomplish that. The exception to this is a situation where the environment is really toxic or detrimental to our well-being, in that case we should leave it immediately.


- What do you believe aided you in being awarded your position?

I had demonstrated prior interest and passion in the area that I was looking to get hired for, and this position was a logical next step for me. I was able to articulate what I had previously learned and done, but also knew exactly why I wanted this position. I was looking for exactly this type of experience as the next step in my career. Although I had some experience with policy, I had never worked in a department like this. I work hard and I think I had demonstrated that in the past, so I came across as someone who was reliable and whom they could count on for pretty much any task at hand, which I imagine is what they were looking for. Finally, I also had the scientific background, and I believe they wanted a PhD graduate for this position, and that serves me well now as I am able to apply that background to this position. At the same time, I am also learning the policy & advocacy side of it, which is what I wanted to learn. Overall this is a win-win situation, and I think that everyone on the team is gaining from it. Plus, it is a really good working environment which is great.


- Have you refused an offer that you think you should have taken?  
What were the factors in your decision?

Not an offer. There were other potential interviews on the horizon when I decided to accept this one, and some of those were more long-term and potentially more stable as well. But this was my only offer I had at the time, and I didn’t want to wait any longer before moving in this direction, so I accepted immediately. At the time I was still toying with several options as to where I wanted my career to go, and I applied for jobs in two different directions along the same continuum. In a sense it was maybe a bit of a coin toss in terms of which one would work out first. Interestingly, I interviewed for the other type of job first, and I got pretty far in the process (I got to the in-person interview) but then ended up not getting the job, which I was very disappointed by. In retrospect, I am grateful that happened because it determined my direction towards something else that I instinctively knew was the right thing for me, and my current position was exactly that. I remember saying to a friend after I didn’t get the other job offer that it would be ideal for me to work in policy at a scientific society. I am now doing that, so it couldn’t have worked out any better!


- What opportunities and challenges do you see provide growth for you?

Right now this position is both a tremendous opportunity and challenge at the same time, and I took the job knowing that it would be both, and I need both. I haven’t entirely figured out where to go from here, but I am learning more every day about what my future interests might be and where I might want to take it, just by being exposed to various experiences. My opportunity right now is to work with people from a different background, and learn how they think about the same issue that I am bringing my scientific expertise to. This is really valuable. The challenge is that I to put myself in situations which are outside of my comfort zone. I purposely seek them out because I know they will be growth opportunities for me. Sometimes this means talking to someone I might be intimidated by, so I force myself to just go up to them and start talking! This job is definitely teaching me how to network, and I find it’s getting easier overtime. I also often seek out projects that I know nothing about but could help with, in order to gain that expertise and grow in a different direction that I might not have explored otherwise.


- What are ways that you go out of your way to expand your network?

Being in DC provides a lot of opportunities to meet people, and I find that most people are happy to have an afternoon coffee and talk about what they do. This is usually very  informative for me, and provides good practice for me in talking about my interests and goals to as many people as possible. The interesting thing is that I almost always get a different response, a new perspective, or a resource I didn’t have before. I attend some events related to work, and others on my own in particular if they are on something I am interested in (for example at the NASEM) but wouldn’t have the opportunity attend in person otherwise. I also try to go to social events related to policy work, where either peers or higher level experts would be present, and seek to meet both types of people. I find that talking with peers is helpful for practicing my pitch before going up to someone who might be more intimidating.


- What comments do you wish to make for people who are graduating or planning on moving on in the next year?

I would say that career exploration should be a constant endeavor, and not done only when you are in your last year of your PhD, for example. Don’t wait until the end to try and figure out what you might want to do. Every day is an opportunity to explore something new, and everything you do can change your career trajectory. If you work in the lab, get out and meet people, especially those from different research areas or non-scientific backgrounds, because you will learn a lot. Keep an eye out for opportunities to grow and help others in your community. Never stop learning and growing, and find opportunities that will facilitate both of these things.


comments (0)
01/21/19
Professional Profiles. 4.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:28 am
Profile:
Pharmaceutical Process Research

- What do you say when asked about your personal style and responsibilities?
I have never been asked that question but it is good question which I will prepare for my next interview.   


- Are you challenged?  What stresses you?
Yes. Working on a work visa can be stressful because you cannot plan long term for practically any aspect of your life. 


- Describe your title, how long you have been in your role and your most enjoyable responsibilities and tasks.
Research Scientist. I have been in this role for a year. The responsibilities I enjoy the most include troubleshooting the formulation and process related issues for iotech startup customers from all over the world. 


- How did you land your current position?  Do you continuously keep an open mind to changing positions?  How long should we stay in our positions?
Job interview. Yes, now that I have a better idea of the spectrum of opportunities available in my current company, I would like to branch out and learn more in the field of drug development in about a year’s time from now. 


- What do you believe aided you in being awarded your position?
My Postdoctoral advisor’s influence in the pharma industry.


- Have you refused an offer that you think you should have taken?  What were the factors in your decision?
Yes. I had to give up on an informal but direct offer from a top pharma company because the company’s policies did not allow sponsorship of my work visa. I told the R&D manager that I will go ahead and accept offer from my current company and will stay in touch with her. That was the end of the interview process. 


- What opportunities and challenges do you see provide growth for you?
The ability to interact with the experts in my field provides me an opportunity to build a long-term perspective about the pharma industry and the potential career milestones I need to be aware of. One of the biggest challenge faced by the pharma industry is their conservative approach towards the drug development process that makes the entire process more tedious and sometimes more expensive. This conservative approach provides me an opportunity to suggest scientifically acceptable cheaper alternatives. 


 - What are ways that you go out of your way to expand your network?
Attend conferences. Volunteer to take on-site customers out for lunch or dinner. Stay in touch with seniors and peers from your academic lab because you never know whom they will introduce you to. 


 - What comments do you wish to make for people who are graduating or planning on moving on in the next year  
Talk to seniors and professionals in your network before you commit to your next organization. People are usually very helpful in sharing their professional experiences.

comments (0)
01/20/19
Professional Profiles. 3.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 6:55 am
Profile
Field Application Scientist

- What do you say when asked about your personal style and responsibilities?

I think I am  a “people person.”  I enjoy talking about science with peers. I try to engage with customers with friendly approach, which is critical in my position as I need to develop good working collaborations with them.  I chose to become field applications scientist because I thought it would give me opportunities to communicate science without having to do it inside four walls.  As a field applications scientist (FAS) I have two main responsibilites- 1) presales-  as a technical expert help account managers to drive business in a given territory.   2) to help customers in their projects (like a consultant) after they adopt our product and train them in using it. This is where friendly approach is useful because customers then feel comfortable talking about their projects openly with me. 
.

- Are you challenged?  What stresses you?

The current job responsibilities offer many challenges with exciting opportunities. The challenging part is understanding customer needs and delivering customer centric presentations. there is always some stress when you need to convert to sale and help account managers do that. but luckily FASs are not required to close deals.
Another exciting and challenging responsibility is to stay abreast in latest scientific developments. Let it be new scientific applications for the technology or developments related to clinical trials of a new drug and how company’s product would help in that.  
.

- Describe your title, how long you have been in your role and your most enjoyable responsibilities and tasks.

I have been working as FAS for almost three years. and I currently enjoy it for aforementioned reasons. 


- How did you land your current position?  Do you continuously keep an open
mind to changing positions?  How long should we stay in our positions?

I got this position through networking with recruiters. (my previous job was also through developing connection at a scientific conference). I am open for changing positions when there is a feeling of saturation or when there are no more opportunities for growth at current position. it is important to not get into comfort zone– Growth follows if we take on new challenges.  
.

- What do you believe aided you in being awarded your position?

I think having a proactive approach during job applications helped me secure current position. for example- learning how to prepare a good resume, discussing with mentors and peers about my career interests, staying in touch with recruiters and my network.

.
- Have you refused an offer that you think you should have taken?  What were the factors in your decision?

I did refuse one Postdoc offer. It is always difficult to refuse an offer that you already accepted, but when I look back, I think I made a very good decision. That time I had another offer for Applications position. Then I considered- what my priorities are, does the postdoc position offer me ample opportunities to grow my career where i would like it to be. The applications position seemed to be fulfilling those priorities, so I made decision to refuse postdoc position. Having said that, I knew this would cause inconvenience to the PI, so I remembered to acknowledge that, apologized for the inconvenience that my decision would cause  and suggested few good candidates that were suitable for the Postdoc position. 

.
- What opportunities and challenges do you see provide growth for you?

Opportunity to work on the commercial side while keeping close contact with R&D has been very helpful. 
In addition,working for sales is quite challenging. I believe, B2B sales gives lot of opportunities to grow in career. It can develop some personal skills and gives exposure that can have major impact in career.

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- What are ways that you go out of your way to expand your network?

I attend conference meetings, try to connect secondary connections through one on one meetings etc. 
.

What comments do you wish to make for people who are graduating or planning on moving on in the next year?


My suggestion would be to keep career options open. And If you do the same thing that you are good at, it wont open new opportunities. So be open for new ideas, skills, and opportunities. 

Also, i remember that during my job application process while at graduate school, I had to take “inside-out” approach. Meaning, i had to learn how the job market is, learn how to write a resume that is specific to the job posting, what do employers expects from applicants etc - you sell what other person wants to buy. Not to sell something that you have but the other person is hardly interested in. What I mean by this is that, in resumes, graduate students often highlight their academic achievements which industry may not care about rather than looking at the job responsibilities and what is needed. ( i remember making such mistake in my first few resumes)  
comments (0)
01/19/19
Professional Profiles. 2.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 11:42 am
Profile:
MSL+ Medical Science Liaison
 I have always looked ahead to what might be next-where is there a gap. That’s what will keep people employed in my opinion.
Principal Research Scientist and Technical Fellow

Professional Development Facilitator, University

- What do you say when asked about your personal style and responsibilities?
When you say “style” I immediately think of management style-I think because that’s so critical to success in a job whether you’re the manager, or you’re being managed as an individual contributor. They say people don’t quit jobs, they quit bad bosses, and in my case that’s definitely true. I stayed at a job where I wasn’t properly rewarded/recognized/compensated for many years because I had a great boss who supported me and my ideas, gave me freedom and didn’t micromanage me, and protected me from the “nasties” in the company so I could do my work without needless interruptions and political bologna. In short, I knew he had my back. That’s worth more than any amount of money. I think that understanding that everyone has a life outside of work, and certain stresses-whether they be familial, marital, health, financial, whatever-is key to being a successful manager. If you can support your employees when they need flexibility it engenders a deep sense of loyalty. And that’s part of why I stayed at that job so long!
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Responsibilities-here what comes to mind are moral and ethical considerations when working at a large corporation. Money is the ruler of the roost. It’s not easy to stand up and shoot down a project that’s looks like an “easy win” for the business because it’s bad science or it might hurt a patient. But that’s the job of a scientist. That means there are some people who will not like you. It’s important to hold true to your moral compass when faced with bullies who are just trying to push their own agenda, collect a big fat bonus check, and be long gone before the shit ever hits the proverbial fan. Scientists and engineers tenures tend to be much longer than business partners who turn over every 2-5 years. They have a lot less to lose.
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- Are you challenged?  What stresses you?
Challenged as in intellectually? Seldom. Interested, often. Mostly the challenging part of my work is dealing with the personalities and egos present everywhere (my own included). What stresses me out is not feeling a sense of place in a the company (not being valued) or feeling like the work isn’t valued.

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- Describe your title, how long you have been in your role and your most enjoyable responsibilities and tasks.
Currently, MSL. About one year. Most enjoyable task is rounding with the surgeons and meeting patients who have received our therapy-there is nothing better. 

.
- How did you land your current position?  Do you continuously keep an open
mind to changing positions?  How long should we stay in our positions?
Word of mouth.

Yes.
It depends on the job, the economy and personal factors such as home life-marriage, family, ageing parents. kids in school, ability to sell a house, et cetera. You (generally) have the most freedom before you start collecting a large paycheck and take on a mortgage and family…maybe a boat or a lovely pair of horses. (LOL).
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- What do you believe aided you in being awarded your position?
My experience and openness to move to a riskier situation.
- Have you refused an offer that you think you should have taken?  What were the factors in your decision?

Possibly-I declined an offer in Europe just out of grad school (with what was at the time Synthes, in Oberdorf Switzerland). It was a great offer but I couldn’t pull the trigger and I wasn’t sure why. Several months later my dad was diagnosed with cancer and he was dead within the year. If I had taken that job I would have missed the last months of his life. Trust your gut, even if you don’t understand it. 

- What opportunities and challenges do you see provide growth for you?
Changing to new technology platforms that are very different than what I have experience in-it changes the way you think about approaching problems and exposes you to new ways of doing things. 

Teaching and teaching others to teach-never easy. 
Service work-there are so many people who have problems we don’t know about and we may have solutions they need-it could be a great product or device to help someone. 

- What are ways that you go out of your way to expand your network?
Even when I’m tired I meet people-for lunches, or attend events they’re going to. There’s nothing as good as face time with people in your network. Keep a broad network of people older and younger than you-you can learn from both. I try to check in with people a couple of times a year and if I know they attend a specific conference plan ahead to meet up. A large network of people who you don’t know, or who don’t care about you is pretty useless in my opinion. Your network will grow over time, like a garden. If you plant too much you can’t care for any of it properly. Select and tend to relationships that you care about the most, and over time you will see the fruits of your labors. 


What comments do you wish to make for people who are graduating or planning on moving on in the next year?
Plan carefully, but once you’ve looked at all the factors don’t use your brain, use your heart. You’ll make the right decision. 



+  MSL = requires a “D” degree-so MD, PharmD or PhD. It used to be a minimum of 10 years of experience but now new grads can get these jobs. It kind of depends on the company and what they are looking to do. I honestly don’t feel super qualified to talk about MSL roles as mine is kind of odd. There is an MSL society.

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10/16/18
Virus World. Interdisciplinary short course
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 2:50 pm

Carl Zimmer has written two very meaningful books recently.
One is on the world of viruses.  It creates a meaningful picture
for the world of viruses and their interaction with humans. 

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Virus, as a term, initially meant venom from a snake or the semen
from a man.  Its meaning evolved over time to mean a contagious 
substance that could spread disease and initially used a tobacco
disease, tobacco mosaic virus. 
.
Bijerinck used virus to describe an agent in the fluid which was 
composed of 95% protein and 5% nucleic acid, a protein shell holding 
a few genes.
.
Carl Zimmer outlines eight classes of viruses and how they originated
and infect humans.  So many of these virus types are treated via 
chemical means.  Classes included-
1. rhinovirus (meaning ‘nose’ virus) spread by hands, doorknobs
2. influenza  (from the Italian)  droplets in air released from coughs,
sneezes, and runny noses
3. human papilloma virus HPV Papilloma virus require some physical
contact
4. ocean viruses -  many types in water systems, are still being  discovered
  Cholera is caused by blooms of waterborne bacteria 
which are hosts to a number of phages, that are viruses.
5. Retroviruses insert their genetic material into hosts DNA.
  HIV is spread by contact with body fluids 
6. West Nile Virus is spread by mosquito.
7. Ebola - spread by body fluids
8.  Large virus organisms and bacteriophages

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06/30/18
Economics of the chemical enterprise. 5. Moat Nation of Steven Brill
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:08 am

Steven Brill outlines the changes that have occurred
triggering the financialization of the chemical enterprise
that we have highlighted through the work of Rana Faroohar 

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Brill points out that business today has taken on a new meritocracy
with a “get rich quick” philosophy that works through cut-throat
tactics  and the flooding of political influence money that no 
longer prioritizes the common good, but “win at any cost” for
the privileged few.
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The resulting model finds successful businesses protected by
“moats” that shield off predators.  Moats he describes as good
product lines, great reputations, predominant market share and 
sterling management who hire the best of the best teams that
savvy investors will seek out. 
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More and more we see AI and robotics impinge on human
roles.  So in addition to seeking cognifying roles in our careers, 
consider what John Meacham has urged
  - do practical work in the political sphere employing your highest
principles
   - respect and insist on true facts and deploy reason (avoid 
dictators who lie frequently assuming that repetition will lead to
concurrence)
   - keep history in mind.
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Just doing chemistry is not enough for professionals.


1 comment
06/02/18
Trends in Technical Careers. Intersections with Other Fields
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Networking, First Year on Job, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 6:43 am

Interesting observations in several fields that touch
on scientific realm are offered in this post.

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Controlled Environment Agriculture.  Leading to
beneficial nutrition, yield and pharmaceutical 
value.  Tessa Pocock wrote about the photosynthetic
efficiency of different low intensity wavelengths
on plant growth, the McCree Curve.  This is a
possible application for solid state lighting and 
specific crop production.
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CRISPR Patent Rulings.  Two sources talking
about the continuing saga of patent protection
filings from UC Berkeley and Broad Institute
are teachable moments for technology development.
The Scoop offers that the result could impact
future funding.
The Courthouse and expedited application process
is discussed in detail in a Jacob Sherkow interview.
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AI in Science.  While the first of two articles 
addresses applications in life sciences, there are
ramifications in all fields.
AI- diagnosis and disease probability
AI- personalized medicine (skin cancer, smoking
      cessation)
AI- drug discovery using unsupervised learning
       algorithms of pattern recognition
AI- predictive analytics in clinical trials to reduce time
       and cost
AI- interpretation of scans using smart algorithms to
       assist
AI- seamless communication of health records
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The second article by Stephen Boppart argues with
more detail about “optical biopsies” in the near
future as part of AI in diagnosis.
comments (0)
04/18/18
Chemical Enterprise Business Models. Considerations for Jobs
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Networking, Job Offer (Situations), First Year on Job, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 5:14 pm

Rarely, if ever, do Chemistry graduates ever receive formal
or informal introductions in chemical enterprise business models.

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We think it is of critical importance as it shows is how individuals
and corporations learn and how its core values.(business purpose,
core culture, operational processes and policies) are demonstrated.
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So many of the BS, MS and PhD / post-grads do not find a 
match to what they believe are their skills and interests.  They
might initially desire to emulate their advisers, but opportunities 
are often limited.  So, they look for start-ups and entrepreneurial 
opportunities.
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Mike Kubzansky of Brookings provides a comprehensive view of
business models.  Heintz et al show how business models can be 
different in different cultures.  This is an important consideration
for it affects decision making from many angles.
Deloitte has predicted that chemical enterprises will benefit from
digitalization but as a whole are slow to incorporate them.  This 
is an area to embrace or at least consider when assessing the job
market.
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Sangeet Choudary pictures families of business models.
-  flow from raw materials to finished products with customer
service to offer value to customers
-  exchange driven platform where groups of consumers and
producers aim to maximize value 
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So two examples to make things concrete for readers.  Think
about the way we consume news.  Newspapers in the 20th 
century were from larger news organizations, printed at
central locations, hand delivered  and read cover to cover.
Mass distribution of video and radio complemented printed
media.  Now, we consume news mostly online via internet
and cable 24-7 and there is so much that news is continually
updated and corrected.  Because of this nature and the various
media formats and sources how businesses make a profit has
moved from coupons and ads to clicks and eye balls.
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Photography is a second model that reveals the revolutions
from print format to virtual world which can be re-constituted.
Then there are many other factors like portable power, 
miniaturization and software versions and security.

comments (0)
04/07/18
Letter Writing and Thank you notes.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 2:23 pm

After collaborating on a workshop I suggested to my
colleague that both of us contact the sponsor of
ours who recommended both of us for the role.

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Within a day of the workshop I thanked AH for
suggesting me for a very positive experience in
the program.  Included in the letter were brief positive
details and a sense that I look forward to working
together in the future.
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Two things of significance, one reinforces the importance
and the other the timing of writing the thank you letter 
at this time.  
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IMPORTANCE OF IN PERSON COMMUNICATION
Sherry Turkle’s book: Reclaiming Conversations.
In our present time, digital technology, through FB, 
Tinder,  MOOCs, texting, email tyranny and shallow
online activisim is argued to lose certain human strengths
Turkle says we have adopted new technologies to gain
control, only to feel controlled by them.
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LETTER WRITING MONTH:  APRIL 2018
Letter writing is a lost art and there are commercial
interests advocating the positive aspects of making
an effort to relate personally to another individual.
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This is just the opposite of getting fired by text
message and everyone at a dinner table texting
someone else….
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Interestingly, two people attending the workshop
contacted me afterwards and thanked me for helping
them find a position starting on their career path.
Those notes made all the difference!
comments (0)
03/31/18
Emotional Intelligence.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Networking, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 11:01 am

One of my critical findings about IDPs Academic inspired
Individual Development Plans is it completely “whiffs” on
emotional intelligence.

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I fear that if you ‘fill out the forms’ for IDP you miss nearly 
half of the skills many employers desire in applicants.
Justin Bariso wrote a thoughtful article on how emotional
intelligence is revealed.  It is not about using big words and
offering elaborate details about technical concerns.
.
He offers
1.  asking questions of yourself, like
     how does my mood affect my behaviors, thinking and 
decisions?
      what subsurface influences affect me and others?
to uncover self and social awareness.
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2.  how do you control your reaction to things that affect
your emotions.  You have little to manage your emotional
take on things, but how you react can reveal your character.
.
3.   Do you say what you mean and mean what you say?
.
4.   Empathy for others;  not meaning agreeing with others
but trying to understand others.
.
5.  Do you intentionally commend and show appreciation
for others?
.
6.  Do you keep your commitments and help others?
conversely, do you apologize for short-fulfilling commitments
and even guard yourself from being taken advantage of
by being manipulated?
 


comments (0)
03/11/18
Absenteeism and Illness. Should you take off when ill?
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, Mentoring, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 1:46 pm

Two organizations that employed me had rules for
absenteeism.  One was quite strict in that you could
choose certain number of days off with pay.  Requests
should be made in advance.

.
Importantly, attendance records were criteria for
advancement and ‘perfect attendance’ was clearly
and widely recognized and rewarded.
Thus, even when you are ill, with a flu or fever,
people were expected to come in, and ,if you could,
visit the company nurse who could dispense some
over the counter remedies.
.
Another employer left it to supervisors to decide whether
it was in appropriate to report not coming in to work and
exposing everyone to the spreading of illness.  Interestingly,
it was recorded but did not seem to make a difference in
assignments or promotions.  [We were to call the supervisor
and report illness.  As many sick days as needed were 
granted.  I do not know of any specific limit.]
.
Allison Doyle has written a nice piece about absenteeism
in the workplace, noting its costs to employers to be on the
order of half  a billion dollars.  Since absenteeism can cost
in productivity and revenue, time off for illness has varied
treatment and risks.  Many places seem to go the route of
PTO paid time off for vacation, special event or illness.
Others provide an annual number of sick days one is 
entitled to take.
.
Various medical organizations have investigated personal
illness and its impacts on the organization  and the individual.
While it may not be part of policy, one might argue a case
can be made to follow CDC guidelines for actions to take.
  -  encourage people to take preventative measures
  -  limit contact with others to avoid spreading;  even
stay home 24 hours when symptoms are real and invasive.
  -  supervisors should be proactive at every level in protecting
individuals and noticing symptoms
.
Recently, this writer was beset with a sinus like infection.
I limited contact as much a possible for as long as spreading
symptoms existed.  It meant sending condolences to events
I was expected to attend.  It is important to be the first
example of proactive behaviors and enforce similar 
recommendations on others.  It should start in the class
room and grad school research labs.
.
Then, practical policies of dealing with this perennial
issue of staying home when you are sick can be the general
policy, with appropriate checks and balances when 
appropriate.
 

comments (0)
03/02/18
Emily Post: Digital Profile and Networking
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, First Year on Job, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:35 am

While Pier Forni leads the way, I believe, in helping us
see civil behavior in organizations and different
situations, the updated Emily Post book adds some
useful suggestions for what your digital profile includes
and pointing out problem areas.

.
Post indicates what each professional should consider
as components of their digital profile.  Update each 
regularly and keep them consistent..

*      complete and update Linkedin profile, with
appropriate recommendations
*      have a well maintained blog and website
*      have links to published content in your name
*      list membership on boards, charitable/ educational
groups and organizations
*      include awards and achievements
*      cite positive press 
.
Just having a solid digital profile is not enough.  Be 
aware of potential trouble areas, like:
*      privacy protections on Facebook
*      uncensored, overly personal
or controversial history
*      less than flattering photos tagged to your name
*      old media that does not reflect who you are now
*      unflattering press
Search your name and some name alternatives

Social Networking Tips
1.  Online privacy is an illusion.  Just about everything has
a digital fingerprint.
2.  Think twice about offering negative criticism online. 
Can be easily misinterpreted, especially in the absence
of facial expression, tone of voice
or nonverbal cues…
3.  Opinions will be formed on everything you post and
much can be taken out of context.
4.  You bear responsibility for online image

comments (0)
02/24/18
Job Search Fundamentals.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 9:01 am

A respected colleague of mine, Christine Kelly 
points out that much thought should be devoted
before you send your application for a position
interview.

SELF ASSESSMENT
There are several aspects to knowing yourself and 
how you can present yourself to prospective employers.
The easy ones are your skills and values, as Christine
presents.  Also, consider your behaviors and style as
they might fit into each organization’s culture.
,
MUSTS AND WANTS
The job description can be a help in describing what
successful candidates will bring to the organization.
I like her dividing job descriptions into short and long.
In the long ones observe the location and number of 
mentions of key skills (note the keywords used and
employ them in your documents).  In short ones, examine
Linkedin for people who have similar titles to see what
skills they list and what accomplishments they summarize.
Study the website for detail.
Above all, research via your network, including
consequential 
strangers

INTERVIEWS
Every interaction with every representative is part
of their interview of you.  Christine points out in the
screening interview or information interviews 
act and present yourself professionally.

In all interactions, virtual, visual, oral and in writing,
your future employer is interested in what you have
to offer.  In discussions, listen carefully to the questions
of what people are seeking to learn and respond to
their queries.  However, remain positive and phrase
negatives in ways that show your creativity and ability
to progress and learn from failure.

Do practice interviews.  Anticipate and write out
answers you can use.  Ask for feedback from 
experienced interviewers.

comments (0)
01/30/18
Job Search Workshop Discussions. Structure, Organization and Content
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 9:40 am

Two interesting email requests arrived in my inbox, recently.
One was asking for participation in a job search workshop
by a professional society local section.
The second was a request from a graduate student seeking
help with his resume.

.
INTERESTING WORKSHOP DILEMMA
We were away on a vacation that delayed our responses.
However, I sent a follow up note to a colleague who was
a recipient of the job search workshop note asking to speak
before talking with the assistant professor who was coordinating
the workshop.
TH and I spoke on a telecon to address our concerns and 
requirements before “meeting” with the prof and TH volunteered
to set up a Webex.
.
From this arrangement, several things emerged…
1.  email is not a useful vehicle to coordinating a program between
different participants.  It is so easy to misinterpret what is going
on.  It is much better to do it in person, if possible, by Skype
or as a last result, telecon, if the participants know and trust
each other.
.
2.  the resulting meeting request was misinterpreted.  In addition,
a follow-up first discussion was delayed.
TH asked for a webex time slot.  It was then felt that not everyone
responded to the professor…
The professor had urgent reasons for not being able to talk for an
unspecified time…
.
3.  The prof indicated his desired date is two months in the future
 on a Saturday, but provided a date for Friday.  This kind of
mishap can happen to any of us.  But it suggests some problems. 
On top of that there is a conflict with the Saturday date that
prevents everyone from participating.
.
BOTTOM LINE.  These kind of workshops need to be planned
4-7 months in advance with back ups for most critical items.
It is useful to have a team of organizers.  
.
PROVIDING HELP FOR INTERNATIONAL JOB SEARCHER
This personal consultation can be related to the workshop.
In a way, this is one of the key goals of what a workshop might
provide.
.
The initial email request asked for help writing a resume for
a job.  Well as we know it is critical to be both more specific
and have a strategy in mind for narrowing down options.
.
The first draft of the resume was sent as an attachment.  It 
revealed that the grad student was at “square one” of his
search.  He inserted some relevant data into an online 
resume platform without understanding the hard preparation
that needs to go into it.
.
A response email was sent with several attachments.  
The email pointed out that
- multi-colored, underlined, fancy documents are not
well received for technical professional resumes
- the application should involve a well written cover
letter and other documents that would positively
separate your application from the other applicants.
-  have a specific position in mind that provides the
keywords critical for inclusion in your documents
.
BOTTOM LINE:  The process, timeline and goals are
not defined.  So, as with the workshop planning, 
creating a workable structure and organization will
be as important as developing viable content.
.
INTERESTING FOOTNOTE:
Timing   2  
Academic world revolves around an academic calendar;
the rest of the world employs different time charts.  
.
Job searching is often a full time effort usually out of
sync with the environment you are in.
comments (0)
01/01/18
Mid-career Job Searching.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Networking, Technicians, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 5:16 pm
It is an ever present challenge about finding another position,
either from job loss, limited growth possibilities, or loss
of excitement for the employment situation we find ourselves
in.
.
We question our choices up till that point.  But alas we have 
learned that more often the choices we made were valid but
for changes in funding or preferences or timelines.
.
Mid-career offers different challenges than early career.  You
have an established work history, salary history and contributions
to your department involving trusting connections, lucid
communications and committed networks.
.
Not every personality faces this kind of job search comfortably.
It is certainly important to have established mentors to bounce
ideas off of.  They can be a sanity check…
.
You can always get better… if there is something lacking or needing
improvement.
.
It is not too late to learn new things…  Especially if you know what
your career gap is.  It might be harder if you do not know the gap.
That is when you fall back on your strengths and building out from
them.
.
You should not hold back from going in another direction,
especially if it is an area of high interest.
Do the right thing, even when no one is looking.
Pay forward, pass on valuable information.  You never know what 
could make a difference for others.
Know your risk tolerance level, and those in your family that depend 
on you.
If you need help, ask for help;  join a professional organization;  use
your experience to volunteer to help others.
3 comments
12/05/17
Recommended Reading. 7.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Leadership, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 12:19 pm

Previous years’ lists

  Recommended Reading. 6,
  Recommended Reading. 5.
  Recommended Reading. 4.
  Recommended Reading. 3.
  Recommended Reading. 2. 
  Recommended Reading. 1.
This year I will attempt to link readers to discussions of some of the 
books that follow in this blog.

Maria Konnikova THE CONFIDENCE GAME:  WHY WE ALL
FALL FOR IT. EVERY TIME, Penguin Random House NY 2016

Thomas L. Friedman THANK YOU FOR BEING LATE Farrar
Stevens and Giroux NY 2016

Yuval Noah Arari HOMO DEUS:  A BRIEF HISTORY OF
TOMORROW
audio 

Robert Cialdini INFLUENCE THE PSYCHOLOGY OF
PERSUASION Collins division of HarperCollins NY 1994

William Strauss, Neil Howe THE FOURTH TURNNG:  AN
AMERICA PROPHECY Broadway Books,   NY 1997

David Livermore, THE CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE DIFFERENCE: 
Master the one skill you can’t do without in
today’s global economy,
American Management Association, NY, 2011

Adam Alter, IRRESISTIBLE: The Rise of Addictive Technology
and the Business of Keeping us Hooked,Penguin Press NY 2017

Rudolph W. Giuliani with Ken Kurson, Leadership, Miramax
Books Hyperion NY, 2002

Lisa Randall, KNOCKING ON HEAVEN’S DOOR:  HOW
PHYSICS AND SCIENTIFIC THINKING ILLUMINATE
THE UNIVERSE AND THE MODERN WORLD
HarperCollins 2011

Robert Colville, THE GREAT ACCELERATION:  HOW THE
WORLD IS GETTING FASTER, FASTER  Bloombury London NY 2016

Michael Breus THE POWER OF WHEN:  DISCOVER YOUR
CHRONOTYPE AND THE BEST TIME TO
EAT LUNCH,
ASK FOR A RAISE, HAVE SEX, WRITE A NOVEL AND MORE,
Little Brown and
Company NY  2016

Alan Alda  IF I UNDERSTOOD YOU WOULD I HAVE THIS
LOOK ON MY FACE
RandomHouse 2017

Barbara Oakley, MINDSHIFT BREAK THROUGH OBSTACLES
TO LEARNING AND DISCOVER YOUR HIDDEN POTENTIAL
Tarcher Peregre Penguin Random House 2017

comments (0)
10/23/17
Stress. Revealing and Responding Behaviors
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 10:15 am

Are you feeling stress in yourself?  Need to make decisions?
Too many things to do and not enough time?  Meeting with
new people, people with opposing views or too many people?
Feel cramped or feel inhibited?

.
These things can happen in relaxed times or in business
situation.  They can happen without notice, rapidly or 
with a time suspension or delay.
.
GP contacted me about a post graduate role and her 
uncertainty over her visa situation, application process,
negotiation of starting date and leaving date situation.
GP has interest in an informal offer, but feels she faces
a series of hurdles, which create anxiety and stress. 
.
She “presented” a stressed mindset in our conversation.
So it was important to (1)share that several other colleagues
each faced similar challenges and dared to commit to
a course of action and take it as a learning experience.
The crisis occurs when catatonic behavior schizophrenia
locks us from moving forward.
.
(2)Compliment her for moving forward and following up
on an opportunity that is within her reach.
(3)Deal proactively with barriers she foresees.
.
However, knowledge alone will not necessarily reduce 
her stress.  Alice Boyes has offered some proactive 
physical, mental and behavioral ideas, a couple which
I had not known for relieving stress, –
  - running your fingers over your lips
  - slow down when you feel a stress or anxiety build 
up, pause
.
Some were ones that have worked for me–
  - going outside into nature
  - deep breathing
  - power posing (Amy Cuddy)
  - muscle relaxation;  Yoga
  - speaking openly with trusted mentors
  - try new things, test things out, learn from others
.
Author, Boyes, has several others, since it is true
there is no one “magic bullet.”
.
To formulate positive movement forward we discussed
several things that references are asked when we are
contacted.  Done as a collaboration, we built positive
hope in the direction she is seeking.
  a.  how long is our professional connection and in
what contexts.
   b.  what are clear strengths that will be valuable
in her next position, provide examples with stories and
positive outcomes.
The reference, me in this case, needs to personalize
the examples.
Then, (4) provide a “lifeline” to contact whenever
she feels the need arising. 
2 comments
05/10/17
Negotiations 7. Strategies and Inquiries
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Mature professionals, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 11:23 am

FL and I have been working together for several years,
first during a post-doc, then, a second post-doc and a series
of interesting temporary positions.  While the post docs
were related to her graduate training in advanced biomaterials
and coating technology, the temporary positions were in
a wide variety of disciplines from project management and
accounting, to analytical services, to quality control.

.
FL contacted me from outside the US about negotiating
a higher salary at a 10 year old company where a network
member currently works.  FL was offered a position for six
months, after which there would be a review to determine fitness
for longer term.  The contract specified starting date, supervisor,
and broad assignment responsibilities along with a starting
salary.
.
The initial request involved discussing what can be expressed
to bring up salary and that the salary being offered was 
lower than current pay as a temp.  The position is located in
Toronto, so it is a stretch to correlate ACS salary survey data
results, based on limited data and currency differences (although
I did approximate using estimated analogies.  
.
SALARY INCREMENT IDEAS
First, however, thank the company for the pleasant news that
was received for the generous offer.  It was highly sought and
enthusiastically received.  FL is flexible in scope of the position
and hours of work, however, is there any room for compensation
discussions….wait, don’t fill silence with excuses, let the hiring
manager think and respond.  State what your needs and desires
are before offering up give ups (you never know if your spouse 
might not have separate benefit coverage.).
.
Ask for the firm’s annual report, employee handbook, and a
formal job description
.  After you receive and review them you
will be better able to discuss the offer details.
.
FL sought a $10K improvement.  So we reviewed areas of
possible approaches– spousal health insurance, no relocation
expense, day care needs, hours of work, self improvement plan,
other deferrable benefits.  Since FL’s spouse has family health
care coverage and there are no relocation needs, these could be
offered as “give ups” to measurably increase salary.  FL is flexible
for hours of work and has no immediate day care needs.
.
If salary is not negotiable, ask if a sign-on bonus can be brought
up to compensate for the difference from your current position
and the unique bonus you might forfeit leaving your current 
employer.
.
Have a list of other negotiating wish items– personal computer,
loaded with professional responsibility software, professional
society memberships, special training programs, special 
commuter passes not listed in the employee handbook. 
.
We also shared details of negotiating workshops brought up
in earlier blog entries.
.
INQUIRIES
It is worth asking for details of the firm’s current and recent
past finances that would be listed in the annual report.  That
not being shared, along with number of employees and
ownership of properties where company activities are
conducted.
.
Through Fidelity Investments, we were able to share
financial data on this start up.  It is relevant to see if the
same data is offered.  Going to work for a company is just
like investing in the company and it is important to perform
due diligence in its financial and commercial viability.  Who
owns the company, what is the market value and trend
and are there legal issues of concern.
.
FINALIZING
After critical elements of the position negotiation are resolved
satisfactorily, request that an updated offer letter be sent for
approval.  Since its location is relatively close, it might be
a nice gesture to personally go to the location, sign it in
person and meet other employees with whom you will be 
working.
.
Send thank you notes to all members you meet.  It will
leave a positive impression.
.
ADDED VALUE:  Fidelity Investments has a Canadian affiliate
to support business research 
comments (0)
03/31/17
Where can grad students go for skills not taught in Universities
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, Leadership, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 11:28 am

This is a story about two conversations.  The first is
one with a very accomplished senior grad student.

The second conversation is one of a series with
a department of chemistry chairperson.
.
Ph.D. LACKING NEEDED SOFT SKILLS
Almost Dr. Smith (not his or her real name) wanted
to talk about a situation in which she finds herself.  She
has received several promising offers, only to be rejected
after providing references.  She has learned from a reliable
source that the reference supplied the information that her
writing skills were not up to acceptable standards, whereupon
the offer was pulled.
.
She asked what can she do now?  Learn by various means–
reading for style and formatting, specialized training to write
for specific audiences, and practice, of course are several 
possibilities.  Shouldn’t the grad school provide that for her?
.
The answer is generally, not in today’s climate.
Second conversation, now.
.
PROPOSAL TO CHAIRMAN TO OFFER PRACTICAL
SKILLS TRAINING 
[Bring a solution, when you ask about a big concern you
have.]
When the new chair was installed I went to her with the
concern that many graduates do not have essential writing
skills and other “Soft skills” that we need to be successful.
What are some courses, programs of study, and tutoring
assignments (shadowing, draft writing, editing, reading)
that are offered or can be offered?  We will bring it up to the
dean, was one response.  
.
Another time, post-docs are people without support,
representation or a voice.  What can be done to help their
case?  That is up to the individual PI was the response.  I reflected
on several national labs, medical schools and NIH programs
and received the feedback.  That is not something I can do.
.
I pursued:  Why not?  some of the ideas are nice, but I would
be stepping on people’s [departments] toes and it is imprudent
to do here.
Another reason is that I can not impinge on the time they are
working in the lab.  They have so many distractions and
commitments as it is.  To add another requirement would take 
time from the research work that needs to get done.
.
So, it goes.  Outside speakers emphasize it is important to “get 
out of the lab” and learn extra-curricular skills through different
activities, internships and volunteer roles.  Most students immediately
reflect that their boss would not like them doing that.  Most say
they feel pressure to be in the lab 7×12 getting results.
.
While I receive consistent support for Professional Development
 activities in summer and both semesters, I am only one and
so much more could be done to make a difference.  What we
do is as much or more than is offered in other R1 institutions.
Please send in ideas and concepts working in other institutions.
I look forward to them.
 
2 comments
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