From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

September 2009
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Interviews. Civility
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 3:49 pm

This week I listened to Dave Iverson’s
Forum podcast
on Bad Manners and was
introduced to
P. M. Forni who has
championed a helpful Johns Hopkins

Civility Project.

This led me to correspond with the author
read some of his writings.  One book,
Civility, offers 25 rules of
considerate conduct.
  Half of them seem
to apply directly to interviewing

situations.  Briefly, they relate to:

- subtle, perceptive ways of paying attention
- significance of recognizing presence of others
- “active” listening skills
- causes and responses to speaking ill of

- good grooming reminders
- elements of sound and noise levels  and need
managing them
- respect for others’ time and space
- thoughts on asserting yourself without over-
- how to deal thoughtfully with personal

- being a good guest and advice on idle
It is an interesting read.

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Relocation. Factors in a tight Market
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring, Recruiters, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 2:14 pm

It seems more common than not that
jobs might involve changing
where we live.
  Several ACS members
have shared their
experiences changing
jobs staying in the
same area.  That is,
in fact a consideration
we should all
factor into
job changes these days
accept a position
where you can have
a reasonable chance of finding another job,
if needed.

Previous entries have detailed factors
strong economic times  1 , like a
area trip with significant
others, company
policies, and
re-establishing a family support
Another entry 
2   provided checklists,
negotiation items, and insights from
about moving.

A. Hoak also offered that these
decisions are not clear cut and require
balancing competing desires, needs and
personal likes.  People facing these
can be involved in a merger, a
cutback where
divisions are closed or
re-organized, or a drop
in business or
end of an era of product.  It
might be
helpful for them to have career

consultant (
ACS CCP) to share their
and get an experienced
person’s view.

Another perspective is based on real
estate considerations

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Careers in Chemistry. Future Trends 20. Nanotechnology
Filed under: Position Searching, Post-docs, Technicians, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 6:11 pm

If you have an interest in nanotechnology
and have
not seen George Whitesides’
presentation in
Salt Lake City I encourage
you to see where he
sees the future

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On Site Interview Preparation
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking
Posted by: site admin @ 10:13 am

Encouraging updates continue to come in
after the Washington ACS meeting.  To
one person, PR, who shared that
she has been
extended additional
screening and on-site
interviews in the
coming weeks.  Are things
opening up
in the economy?

Related to the previous post concerning
interview preparation for PR, item 3
going to your network to learn
about the company,
she raised a query in
an email.  She has looked
into and found a few staff
listed and asked:

“Thank you,….. About two weeks ago, I
to an ACS teleconference with… 
I found him on and see that
his experience is
substantial.  How should
I approach building a
relationship with
him?…”  [from PR]

“… Think about NOT just saying, hey
I am interviewing
at [name withheld] can
you help me get a job?  That
would be
true, but not helpful. [from Dan]

…do you have questions to follow up
with [him]?
{a suggestion is:} learn
what is highly prized at
[name withheld]–
teamwork, innovation, creativity,
skills, openness to ideas? [from Dan]

Consider just sending a thank you note
for the
nice presentation, citing helpful
things he brought
up.  Consider not
bringing up your interview at
this point. 
Explore his page and links

and other co-workers and find a way
to bring
up what you learn positively in
the interview.

[from Dan]

You might consider at a later point after
the interview
asking questions of him,
after you have made
professional contact
before the interview.” [from Dan]

The reply note mentioned how important
is for professionals.  We are
seeing many things
appear quite
differently now in the Internet age.  It is

pertinent to bring up the growing
importance of
your online presence. 
For a suggestion the recent
What would Google Do?‘ by Jeff Jarvis
could offer some insights.  {It has not
received well in all quarters– some
in the
search engine optimization
).  I liked it and some
references he provides.

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Job Search Strategies. Tough economic times
Filed under: Position Searching, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 6:14 pm

The statistics came out today about
high unemployment nearly
everywhere.  This is
not good but it
does not mean we should stop
our careers.  Please be cautious about

being too aggressive, too over the top
or too
demanding of decision-makers. 
1  2 

Several sites helpfully reinforce positive
behaviors we need to continue

networking - It is still true that people
meet and exceed their goals in
needed areas
will be successful.  (Good
people are always
in demand.)

In down markets, career changing appears
than finding either the first position
or continue
in your career path at another

Several stories of people getting interviews
by being online, and having a strong
on the web– for example,  

writing targeted cover letters, resumes
summaries - Match what specific
seek in skills and experience,
using accomplishments
to demonstrate

follow up on your leads in measured ways.

Also, look for “growing fields“, find ways to
meet people rather than depending internet
contact exclusively, and be prepared and
practiced for formal and informal interviews.

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Watch-outs 13. Contract work, online patent applications, IRA conversions
Filed under: Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Mature professionals, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 9:00 am

Let’s point out three topics: IRA
conversions, an online patent drafting
tool and considerations for contract

Source:  K. Greene Ask Encore WSJ 9-12-09
The devil is in the details in the IRA
conversion process.  K. Greene offers
elements of strategy about when to
make the transition from tradtitional
to Roth and some pros and cons, considering
current regulations and likely increases
in tax rates.

Source:  J. Porter, 90 Days Contract work
While it is important to establish your
technical credentials and go through
background checks and interviews in
chemistry, several fields have niches for
contract work.  Porter’s article points out
four essentials–
Have a strong online presence in desired
areas (technical/managerial expertise),
Show that you know and can deliver on
unmet special needs of organizations,
Focus on activities that value and build
relationships (consider volunteering)
Understand your value and the limits
on what you can charge

Source:  Photonics Spectra 9-09, 84
: tool for patent applications
While I strongly value and encourage
patent agent and/or attorney involvement,
there could be some circumstances where
you benefit from drafting your own patent
application.  The TeamPatent website
and associated online tools might meet
your needs.

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Chemical Innovation. Ideas on future areas to work
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking
Posted by: site admin @ 12:20 pm

Certainly looking at profit and loss
of chemical companies is
a way to determine
where one might
look to work.  One could look
at fields
which having a sustained or increasing
of patents and publications.

Another interesting way is see where
pundits view major advances
in chemical
technology.  Shirley Wang
authored “
the Nobel Prize will go to..
citing four shining areas–

development and understanding based
“molecular chaperones” to slow or
progressive brain diseases
Huntington’s, Alzheimer)
[F. U, Hartl, W. Horwich]

development of antibodies as drugs and
disease treatment to aid the human
[R. A. Lerner, G. Winter]

novel synthetic methods to create
with desired design properties,
[K. Matyjaszewski, ATRP]

telomers, telomerase and connection to
[E. Blackburn, C. Greider]

The article also includes interesting advances
in physics and physiology.

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Careers in Chemistry. Future Trends 19. Geothermal-Radioactive Decay Energy Generation
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, Leadership, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 7:51 am

One of the amazing sources of energy generation
is the incredible geothermal source.  As we explore
the continental crust, temperatures
increase about
30 degrees C per km. 
A wonderful description
of the source
of heat controversy is presented
Hancock and Skinner who suggest
two different
heat gradients in the
core and the mantle.  They
the possible heat source as

radiogenic due to the decay of U-235,
Th-232 and K-40.

Recent reports suggest the impact of
energy fracturing subsurface
formations as
effecting earthquakes
in CA, Germany and
Switzerland.  But
geothermal generation of energy is
a deeper, no pun intended,
Issues including  material balance (water)

and radioactive waste need to be

Broad interdisciplinary chemistry will
essential in discovering how to best
tap this
resource. (geochemistry,
material science)

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Submitting Resumes. What else can we do?
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Recruiters, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 10:50 am

Mario Sundar highlighted Liz Ryan’s blog
mentioning tips for following up on
electronic resume submission
.  A previous
here also mentioned tips on

So often I have heard of people simply
submitting their resume on-line and stop
there, expecting that just following these
directions to take care of

As Sundar/Ryan’s and other posts indicate,
document will be one of dozens, or
hundreds or
more and will be treated, if
at all, with
screening software.  The
document may not be necessarily “read”.
It is incumbent on
job seekers to
systematically pursue
target institutions
using a number of
tactics to further
your application.

Inform your references of your interest.
(It goes almost without saying, to include
your list of references to your resume

In fact, 
it could be wise to seek out the references’
input before the application submission.
They may know key individuals who
can help your application process.

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Careers in Chemistry. Future Trends 18. Quorum Sensing in Bacteria
Filed under: Position Searching, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 5:39 pm

I just couldn’t resist cutting out the
WSJ article
by Guatam Naik about
chemically controlled social

communication in bacteria.  I came
away just needing
to find the original
publications and presentations of
Bonnie Bassler of Princeton.

a video (from the WSJ)
  - a presentation on the topic (by B. Bassler)

As the article points out Bassler and co-workers
document a chemical interference
specific mechanism where a designed
chemical interferes with the
quorum sensing mechanism.  This reduces
the impact of bacterial infections and
could provide cures to some diseases.
complex system behavior opens up new
mechanisms for chemicals to interact with
organisms and environmental systems.

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About Remembering Names
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, First Year on Job, Recruiters, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 12:00 pm

Does it happen many times to you,
as it has
for me?  Forget someone’s name. 

There are procedural aids that commonly
us, like
  - introducing yourself, ‘hello, my
name is ….’
then giving time for h(er)im
to provide their name.

  - using their name several times in the
next part
of your conversation
  - writing the name down on a handy

  - associating a unique characteristic
with the
  - entering the new name into Outlook,
your phone
or your blackberry

An interesting tip came today about a
person who
did a sales call.  He learned
jot down peoples’ names and the
type/color of shirt/top they wore at a
meeting.  Then,
use that knowledge in
responses to their questions,
requests for
questions or business
information or ending the conversation.

Using a person’s name is one of those
tips in
developing good small talk habits
that benefit professionals everywhere.

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Nontraditional reading. Design thinking
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring
Posted by: site admin @ 9:52 am

One of the approaches companies are taking
to innovate is design thinking, Sara Beckman
writes in the NYTimes.  Design thinking
uses a distinctly different approach from using
Six  Sigma tools (that aim for process
improvement of existing systems) to rethink
how businesses are run, products are sold
and customers make choices.

It is interesting to explore the origins and
applications and intersections of these sorts
of ideas.

Prigogine described the bifurcation of
events based on timing alone

D Pollard’s approaches to system problems
and coming up with environmental design

Tim Brown’s divergence-convergence
strategy to learning and applying new

Drug discovery for complex chemical
biological and environmental systems

Fabio Sergio’s design thinking for the

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Interview tips for a First on-site interview
Filed under: Interviewing
Posted by: site admin @ 3:58 pm

It was very nice to receive an email from PR who
shared some positive news:

“… Thank you for all of your help and encouragement.
I am pleased to let you know that []tech has invited
me for an on-site interview [date].  The company
interviewed me at the ACS meeting in DC [where we
met again].  I just wanted to update you on my
progress since you have made such great investments
in me through your seminars on mock interviewing and
constructive critiques through personal conversation.

Please feel free to provide advice, suggestions or
insights that you feel could help me… “

PR was a memorable person who I responded to
in a more detailed note.  He deserved more than
a quick letter that one can find in advice columns.
One recent one offered five tips to help you nail
a job interview.  While I don’t disagree with any
of the items, he should hear more professional
advice than:
 - look professional  (he did!)
 - stay on point (use an impressive pen? really)
 - don’t wear too much cologne (I agree, but is
this a critical tip?)
 -  ask questions (on this I agree.  Have the key
questions you need answered and make sure you
ask them in a professional way to the right
 - body language (to express your personal
enthusiasm and message…agree)

The note sent to PR provided a dozen preparation
1.  ‘research the company.’  It is a private firm that
will require you to dig in different places.  Go to
someone in the business school and ask for help.
2.  ‘For which position are you being interviewed?’
Know what it is and ask for a job description.  See
how you can match your skills, interests and
abilities to their needs.  Develop STAR stories…
3. ‘Go to your network,’, for example
and find people working there.
4.  ‘Do they have current products, patents,
publications and presentations?’  Learn about them
What do they reveal?
5.  ‘Practice your presentation.’  Find out how long
they want it and plan for “question time”.  See
if you can connect to the open position.
6.   Ask questions about each person, how they
got there, do they like working there, get to know
them a bit, following up on your research on
each person’s work that you find in your research.
7.  ‘Who will be on your interview team?’  Don’t ask
about salary, benefits, promotions, or training.
8.  Be ready to respond to standard questions
you can see in the links section.  Do a salary
assessment you might expect in case they ask
you how much you want to make.
9.  Be enthusiastic, smile, display humble
confidence, but willing to learn.
10.  Have a calendar with you. so you can
respond to timing issues.  Consider, if asked,
asking to start before the beginning of a
quarter for benefits purposes.
11.  If you have friends in the business
school, ask them to help you evaluate
the business viability.
12.  Consider doing a mock interview
under different situations.  Interviewstream
might be a consideration.


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Nontraditional reading. Forbes for Career Reinvention
Filed under: Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 6:41 am

Forbes magazine is not the first source
for many chemists.  If you are interested
in professional careers, like I am, let me
encourage you to read a segment on

Do you think employment trends will
improve in 2009?  If and when it improves
will job trends remain the same as
before?  We should all be asking this.

From other fields, it will not be over
and it will be different.  So it is
valuable to gather information and
strategies about how other fields
are handling it.

On the fourth page of the online
version of the WSJ article. Whelan
describes the business model
synthetic organic chemists who did
not want to move from their
established communities did in
forming Kalexsyn (Kalamazoo Experts
in Synthesis”).  Kalexsyn develops
chemicals well before a drug is ready
for clinical trials.

Still a work in progress in a
competitive and evolving field,
typical clients might hire one chemist
for a week or a month to synthesize
a quantity of compound.

Other career employment models
including temporary (Manpower) and
contracted services are also
in the publication.  So given the
current conditions and possible
future, it may be worth it to consider
career path models.

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Mid-career and entrepreneurial networking
Filed under: Networking, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 6:30 am

There is a sub-set of chemists who are
or mature scientists.  Another
set who are entrepreneurs.

As a WSJ article highlights, with people
losing their
jobs and small businesses
losing some of their
clients, many are
opting to do pro bono work.

There are several advantages for doing
work for
charities, good causes, and specific
benefits.  It is
a substitute for advertisement. 
It is a positive form
of networking.  In one
case I have learned that the
work has
provided health insurance for an employee’s

cost while doing five hours of work a week.

The benefits may suggest this as an evolving
direction for future tactics meeting interim positions
rather than just hanging in with t
han more
traditional strategies of aiming for full-time,
long-term positions.

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