The NESACS Blog
From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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03/30/13
Trends in Technical Careers. 5. Superbugs and Evolution proofing
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:37 am

The drug discovery business is in an “arms race” against
nature, Andrew Read describes in a TED talk I enjoyed
this morning.  However, this business treats the hard
reality of evolution  as “someone else’s business”.

C&EN has to its credit trumpeted the great advances
in Pharma and Biotech with therapies, vaccines and
improved hygiene regiments.  My sense is it loses sight
of the bigger battle in the multi-disciplinary world of
infectious diseases

We all have at some point experienced and followed
Alexander Fleming’s 1945 recommendation to take the
full dose of antibiotics to eliminate all of the bacteria
it targets.  The current day problem is that a new drug
resistant breed of bacteria have evolved which can not be
treated by current therapies.  [See a blog item talking about
Prof. Read’s focus.]

Interestingly, two factoids:
More people die from drug resistant bacteria than from
automobiles.

Medicines, despite recent C&EN described advances,
drive evolutionary “pan-resistance”.

As scientists in a multi-disciplinary world, we need to
open our eyes to this problem and proactively attack
our common enemy
– bacteria.
- identify and isolate CRE infected patients
- take necessary hand-washing and infection spreading
precautions and enforce
- measure changes in species and in their populations
- use current therapies more wisely [reduce over uses]
- study what works  [ie, malaria therapies]
- evolution management

ACS needs to join forces with other disciplines and
understand how we can support smart therapy deployment
and participate scientifically in evolutionary management.

1 comment
Graduate School Decision. What to do with my PhD?
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:45 am

It seems quite strange to me, being an industrial scientist-
manager-researcher, turned semi-academic, to hear my
colleagues talk about alternate careers in industry as going
to the “dark side,” so to speak.  It is a common attitude many
students and post-docs speak to me about.  [Their PIs often
say, if you go into industry or government or commercial
fields, you will not be able to follow your passions any
longer.  Your life will be dominated by profit-loss-risk
and your motivations will be “less-pure.”]

To give it legs, my colleague R. Bretz [an academic] shared
a blog piece about NIH offering “non-academic career
training
” for PhDs and Post-docs.  One of its pillars
is the writing of C. Fuhrmann as she relates to the biomedical
field
.  [but it seems many academics ascribe to this line of
thinking.]

Perhaps wiser perspectives on the matter of choice of
career paths, in many scientific, engineering and technology
fields are offered in the comments section of a “harebrained
scheme for science curriculum training
.”
People should resist the temptation of the “path of least
resistance” of going to grad school because I got good grades
in courses and seemed to like the free flow of ideas in an
academic setting.  They might want to take up, as we have in
certain programs, a realistic self assessment and tactical
action plan of exploring different career paths
.  It is more
than
“have you thought about going into business or consulting?”
   2   3   4 

It puts students in the self imposed position of asking themselves
without recrimination and with data of likely outcomes in terms
of life span paths, what does it mean if I earn my PhD in
biochemistry or physics or electrical or computer engineering?
In the view of academic career paths, it means needing to do
a post-doc or two over the next three to five years.  Then, tirelessly
working to develop your application package before similar
challenging grant-seeking applications, with tighter and tighter
funding scenarios
.
In the view of industrial career paths, there are different challenges
many of which are hard to predict.  Thus, the uncertainty dilemma.
Nonetheless, we have been trained in our careers to reduce
uncertainty by experiment and gain perspective by asking good
questions and make progress despite challenges and uncertainty.

Government service positions can be assessed, yet often involve
doing a post-doc in a government lab.  It seems to be a combination
of academic tenure process and willingness to change directions
as in industry. 

There are other entrepreneurial routes that should be explored and
paths not defined because they have not existed before and we will
be developing them.  Again, this is what the graduate degree program
has been teaching us if we have been paying attention.

Thanks for sharing, Rich.

comments (0)
03/27/13
Resumes. Font Sizes and Headings
Filed under: Public Relations docs
Posted by: site admin @ 6:57 am

Our class submitted their current resumes this week
as we began our strategy of strengthening their
public relations documents for each person’s
career path.

FONT, FONT SIZE AND CONTENT IN HEADING
I was struck by:
  - some resumes that had the NAME in
the HEADING section 20 and 30 point, while the text
was 10 or 11 point. 

  - Other resumes did not contain addresses, only email
addresses in the HEADING space.

  - Most did not have their names on each page of the
document.

Suggestions:
Please consider using a font that is a common print
medium font with a size of 11 point or greater for
most of the document.  Typical fonts are: Arial, Times
New Roman
, Verdana, or Courier(less).

Your name in the heading can be 1 or 2 points larger than
the remainder of the document.  U-Washington,
reference.

[Please note:  for other fields, like advertizing or
marketing, outsized or unique name fonts are possible
simply due to the nature of visual effects in those fields.]

Very unusual circumstances might suggest not including
one’s street/city address.  Despite not eliminating you
from consideration, it is expected that at the top of page
one your formal street address
(with US State two letter
abbreviation and zip code) is provided.  Phone (with
area code 123-456-7890, no parentheses), email and
Internet presence (web-page and/or Linkedin profile)
is expected there as well.  If you use Skype and are outside
of the country, I have seen Skype address listed.

I suspect in a short time we will be listing our telecon
media, as well, whether it is Facetime or Skype or Google +
neighborhood.

Throughout your document, for technical resumes please
use a maximum of three levels of highlighting, consistently,
while not overly using them as placement and ease of locating and
reading is important.  [So, in this piece, ALL CAPS IS USED
FOR A HEADING, underlining to bring out key points, and
different fonts to show the different font styles.]

Please have your name and page number on each subsequent
page of your document.

comments (0)
03/22/13
MOOCS. 2 Request for more active ACS role.
Filed under: Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:40 am

Massively Open Online Courses have been proposed
as a way midcareer professionals can gain new and upgrade
skills to compete.  MOOCS can be used to explore how
well students are learning (analytics) and measure attempts
at doing things better.  MOOCS can bring top level teaching
and student engagement methods to many more students at
a fraction of the cost.  These and other historical anecdotes
are what are contained in a recent Scientific American piece.
Some realities seemed to be missed in the piece, including:

It is increasingly true that positions include roles and
responsibilities that are more interactional, transactional and
collaborative.

In the study of knowledge in a knowledge based economy,
facts have half-lives, so updating and re-learning are continuous
and required.  Arbesman

We do not have to go far.  Canada is a laboratory where MOOCs
are taking hold, because of recognized need and progressive
force alignment.  It is in the best interests of everyone.

A/B or Split testing may take a larger role in the evolution of
this innovation which is a lower cost alternative to brick and
mortar universities.  It may not be the answer for everyone.  It
is an alternative.

Suggestions:
Societies like ACS can take a proactive role by certifying
courses for grades and degrees and

eventually offering course delivery. 

Members need to ask for this.

comments (0)
03/17/13
Watch-outs. 42. Patent law changes, iMedicine, Retirement
Filed under: Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:40 am

SMARTPHONES IN MEDICINE
SOURCE:  Video Rock Center
Wireless medicine using a modified iPhone.  This
in medical professional hands will revolutionize
health care.  From EKGs, wireless ultrasound

At Scripps Institute development after leaving the
Cleveland Institute, Topol uses the tools himself.
Monitors glucose levels during the day.

Future medical nanosensor developments described.

LEAHY-SMITH AMERICA INVENTS TAKES EFFECT
SOURCE:  A. Jones, WSJ 3-14-13  p B6
We have heard about the new patent law in previous
posts.  Many of the new changes took effect 3-15.  It is
interesting to read the near term impacts as recorded in
the article– increase in fees, and making it harder for
inventors to compete against larger corporate patent
organizations.

This article points out that prior art in all languages is
now considered in patent filings.

LONG TERM CARE AFFORDABILITY
SOURCE:  E. Schultz, WSJ 3-9-13 P. B9
Premiums for many policy holders have doubled over
the last 3 years.  This article points out latest evolution
of the long term care insurance business and counsels
what to look for: 
- what does policy pay for,
-  how is eligibility defined,
-  how much is paid out. 
It provides good references for further reading.

If one is intent on having long term care insurance,
suggest S. Olsen in the comments to the article is
someone to contact.

comments (0)
03/16/13
Competition and Collaboration. Preparation, Interviewing and On-the-job
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 6:22 am

American society is, as behavioral economists tell us,
aggressive and celebrates winners.  When we score the
benefits of winning, we identify it with being happier and
living longer.

Nobel prize winners live longer, Academy award winners
do too.  Gold medal winners smile on the medal stand;
silver medalists can be seen grimmacing.

Po Bronson, who co-authored a book on competition,
offers suggestions on how to succeed in competitive
situations.  A couple of notable tips:

- collaborate with a team so that we try harder not letting the
team down. (swimmer Jason Lezak example)
- know that you have a chance to win, if you give it your all
- get acclimated to the competitive situation and have an
accurate perception of the odds (home team advantage)
- learn to lose and come back by concentrating and trying
harder (focus on what did not happen)
- adapt peer pressure as a significant push to do better
- avoid being over-confident. (psychology of rankings)

1 comment
03/12/13
Tannenbaum-Schmidt Participation Model
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Leadership, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 5:54 pm

In an interesting small group session with international students
yesterday, one “burning question” of several emerged:

How do I determine how to behave in a work group without appearing
too aggressive, yet getting appropriate air-time and hearing?

Immediately, three responses came to me.  One is hard
to describe in just words so I referred to it as the Participation
Model and promised to provide some detail for them to
see and understand.  It is known as the Tannenbaum-Schmidt
Participation continuum model
and it deals with leadership
and follower behaviors in a range of situations in organizations.

The model summarizes much work in successful organizations
as 7 levels of delegated freedom.  Starting with all authority in
the leader and all support in the follower in the “direct-support”
level (#1) to the other extreme where the leader believes the
followers have all the know-how, experience and expertise to
make all the decisions and just be informed when in the “relinquish-
full-authority” (#7) level.

So, knowing the appropriate level in the continuum is most helpful.

The second response is knowing precisely what is involved or requested
or needed.  For this (the easy response), “paraphrasing” is powerful.
Describe in your own words the expectation, then ask is this what you
mean?

Finally, Last Sunday’s 60 Minute segment with Sheryl Sandberg
where she talks about “leaning in” and weighing in on important
decisions.  What it takes and how she sees it happening. 

comments (0)
03/06/13
Levy Searching. Method applied in Linkedin
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 5:08 pm

Remember a while back we brought up a food scavaging
technique by animals of prey?  Didn’t think you did…

Ok, as we know when we google, Bing or yahoo search
a list of words algorithms develop a list of the most
“popular” sites.  How can we find what is helpful for
our particular search goals?  Sure, add more search terms.

But another way is to go off in another direction where
presumably fewer are searching.  Perform Levy Searching.
This is what is proposed by a colleague, Wayne Breitbart, in
his blog on using Linkedin:

Searching your connections databases’

Searching alumni and previous employer alumni databases’

Searching the best Groups to belong to’

comments (0)
Presentations. What do they seek in an interview presentation?
Filed under: Interviewing, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 4:42 pm

We all work feverishly hard on the oral parts of what
we say and how we say it, whether at a school or
technical meeting presentation.  Nonetheless, nine-
tenths of how we assimilate information is on the
other aspects…visual, pacing, identifying what the audience
seeks and meeting it in an agreeable manner.

How well we are received depends on how well we
understand our audience.  For it is the audience that
matters the most.  My colleague, S. Sobolov, uses the
Myers-Briggs TI 16 preferences to describe all the
different audience member types.  In a class of 18
students, 9 different types are found as an example. 

When we give a presentation in a job interview, the
presentation is about you.  Everything else supports
your candidacy.   So, in a way, there is a role reversal.
Your candidacy will be enhanced by how clearly you
connect with your audience and communicate ideas,
relevance and show how you achieve results.

Do you relish the thought of being on the spot, having
a time limit, and responding to thoughtful questions?
Sometimes, it is not so much the problem but how
you make progress in a way consistent with how the
organization functions.

ORGANIZATION
Academic institutions like fluency to speak to many
audiences and effectiveness in soliciting grants.
They will also assess your motivation, creativity, and
productivity.
Industrial organizations stress the ‘likeability’ factor
and examples of relating stories about teamwork and
decisive action yielding results.  While it is nice to
be comprehensive and know all there is about a subject,
the speed and efficiency to get a result may be more
highly regarded. 

This post offers suggestions and observations for
industrial and business interview presentations.

TIME LIMIT
In some fields there is a 45 minute limit with questions.
In others 10 minutes are given for presentations.  The time
frame makes a difference.  I have heard one commentator
mention that if she has  to give a 3 hour presentation, she
could give it now.  If she had a 50 minute presentation
slot, she could do it tomorrow.  For a 10 minute slot, please
give her a week.  It needs to be polished and refined.

INTERVIEW PRESENTATION IS MARKETING
Not long ago, a capable scientist who had done fine work was
invited to present at an start-up biotech firm.  The talk moved
well in describing the science.  Then, he was asked to indicate
how it shows he would be good for the position, he stumbled.
He had not prepared to sell himself and why he was well prepared
to do a great job.

He failed in his presentation to link the value of his neat
science to getting results for the audience.  While in academic
circles good science may be enough to convince an organization
of technical prowess, it must be marketed and tailored to
the audience with persuasiveness and skill.

TIPS FOR INDUSTRIAL INTERVIEWS
1.  Learn who is in your audience from your host and discuss
what would most be interesting to them.
2.  Have a chance to set up your computer and visuals so
everyone can view them without waiting. 
3.  Edit wording down, simplify figures to their essence.
S. Sobolov  offers the 1-7-7 rule: 
       1 point per slide
        7 lines text per slide, max
        7 words per line, max
4.  Incorporate stories to relate impact on people, propose
possibilities, and engage the audience to relate with you.
5.  Speak to one person in the audience at a time.
6.  Rehearse so that you can carry on if interrupted and
edit based on comments. 
7.  Jerry Weissman’s Presenting to Win Flow structures
add real value.

3 comments