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

August 2013
« Jul   Sep »
Trends in Technical Careers. 9. Photonics, Optoelectronics; Advice to graduates
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 6:33 am

It is encouraging to note ACS is “launching a new journal,
ACS:  Photonics
” in January.  Items on this field pointing
out that chemists play a significant role and can find
many opportunities have been pointed out in this blog.

A recent issue of Photonics Spectra offers some advice
for recent graduates, including:

Pay attention to Linkedin entries
            keywords in job descriptions
            career paths, desired skills of successful professionals
            group membership of successful professionals
            comments, group discussions and entries
“go deeper in your profession…”

Technology life cycle [change-out, substitution] is much
shorter, faster, agile.  There are many ways to solve problems.
Monitor the leading edge frequently.  Find the leaders, get
their perspectives.
“Become a trend watcher { “Be where the puck is going to be,
not where it was.”  Gretzky}”

Marketing plays a not insignificant role.  Technical awareness
and all the skills of astute networking communicators are
worth developing.
“Learn the business.  Who are the customers?  Why do they
pay for what they pay?… How can you add more value for your

Items that are oft repeated:  over-communicate, optimism,
grit (”when it rains, it rains on both teams.  Figure out how to
play in the rain.”)

1 comment
Art of thinking. Insights, performance improvement and innovation
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, First Year on Job, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 8:05 am

Say you are in a position and things seem stagnant, not
improving.  No clear path to an exciting future that
motivates you.  What do you do?

Do you do what many recommend and what we learned
in our training?  Reduce our errors.  Or do we seek new
or non-obvious insights?

Gary Klein wrote a book that Amazon Kindle provides
on “Seeing what others don’t:  Remarkable ways we gain
insight.”  It was thoughtful and offers some worthy comment.

Higher                Reducing      Gaining
Performance =  Errors      +  Insights

Some suggestions:
 - go to talks outside of your field of concentration, read
books, view videos, listen to podcasts.

Example:  M. Chafee studied the inner workings of neurons
in worms without sacrificing them by studying worms with
translucent skins and applying external irradiation on yellow
fluorescent proteins YFP.  He had a “eureka moment” listening
to a talk outside his field.

- go with your gut instincts and don’t give up on what you
understand based on your experience

Example:  M. Markopolous reported to the SEC that Madoff
was a fraud in 2000.  He was an expert who understood the
possible and acted as a whistleblower despite lack of
belief in his claims from all corners.  His ponzi scheme was
finally revealed, but the ill effects are still being felt.

 - develop models and hypotheses from limited information
and seek to verify or refute.

This requires modeling the thoughts and data, preparation and
incubation period, leading to illumination and verification.
Example:  Gottlieb who while working at UCLA noticed
a trend that was the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s

 - try “mini-solution habits” to small problems as a way to
prepare for success.
  Take risks where the negative is minor.
Never give up on important tasks or goals.  Be curious and
develop passions and things you like.  Be willing to make
mistakes where you can learn from them.
Example:  club soda

These same suggestions can be applied to career management
and your job search.  For, the way you look for a job is the
way you will perform on the job

1 comment
Keystone Habits. NOW HABIT to overcome Procrastination
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Mentoring, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 8:58 am

The leading item people submitted as a weakness in our
Professional Development course was procrastination.

It struck me since this is not one of my top three,
yet it is for them.  Previously we mentioned this and
provided constructive feedback about structured
  2 which can be considered a professional skill.

Neil Fiore has written about the deeper aspects of
procrastination describing it as a “habit used to cope with
anxiety, fears and self-doubts” of our starting or completing
a task.  It is an escape that permits us to just keep on doing
busy work, or treat everything that comes up as urgent,
or never complete things to your personal level of
satisfaction (because something else came up or
interested us.).  Sound familiar?

Fiore describes how each of us can improve so that we
seem not to be “driving with our brakes on.”  He proposes
forming new “Now Habits” by understanding the
procrastination triggers, their emotional origins and
some practical steps for paths to achievement for
ourselves, including:

  - Schedule play
  - Define and tune into our “flow states”
  - Experience “controlled setbacks” where we can be alert
    to finding opportunities and bounce back with renewed

So, if procrastination is one of your weaknesses that you
describe for yourself, you can demonstrate what you are
doing to overcome procrastination.  These can be revealed
in stories we can tell about ourselves during interviews
where we:  
  a.  make progress despite setbacks
  b.  get results on time and within budget
  c.  how you are continuously improving yourself
and your skills (sharpening the tools in your toolkit)
  d.  how you adapt to stressful situations and use
pressure to motivate for achievement.

This will be a nice seminar topic in the coming semester.

comments (0)
Watch-outs 45. LinkedIn Changing recruiting and drug discovery
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 12:52 am

Two interesting connections appeared to reveal even
greater usefulness of for use in our
careers.  Some readers may already know about its
use in recruiting.  A recent article in  Freakonomics
Sarah Halzack points out it is no longer ‘post your
resume and pray someone sees it matches a need.’
It is making creating outstanding profiles and
thoughtful content
essential for each of us, leading
to poaching top talent.  Some fields have progressed
quite rapidly and, it is fair to assume, all fields will
be impacted.

A second less pronounced and practically more
productive was highlighted by Barry Bunin who
described how CDC creative drug discovery is
reducing time and costs to enhance how teams are developing
, citing the innovative work
of Bob Vollkman.

comments (0)
Mid-career Transitions. Preparation, Questions and Advice
Filed under: Interviewing, Mature professionals, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 12:06 pm

We all end up in mid-career and face decisions that will
challenge each of us.  Earlier, we wrote about the importance
of mid-career professionals engaging coaches and mentors.
(after A. Gawande, New Yorker magazine)  Mid career
knowledge workers are urged to grow in their self awareness
and assess others needs
in different circumstances.  To this
end, two recent books shine a revealing illuminating light
and apply a laser focus on things to repair.

Marchall Goldsmith’s What got you here, won’t get you there
illustrates 20 things to avoid in a series of cartoons to bring
things to light without mentioning any names.  These things
are destructive behaviors that demotivate and lose your

Vicky Oliver’s 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview
s goes out on a limb to provide words to go
with the music of our careers, our calling, why we
were put on this earth and dares us to be extraordinary.

 - what is important for you in your job?
 - what are your goals and how do you set them?
 - dealing with questions that may off set us or may
come from a different direction… titles, managing
groups to being a staffer, flatter organizations,
 - visionary vs implementer roles.

This is a worthwhile contribution to a long list and
it remains relevant 8 years after publication.

Nonverbal communications. Cultural and Perceptural Differences
Filed under: Interviewing, Networking, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Technicians, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 9:25 am

Through more than a half dozen years, nonverbal communications
has been a topic several times in different situations.–
   Elevator speeches
   Confidence posing (Amy Cuddy)

The latest update in Wikipedia offers an in depth discussion of
nonverbal communication.  A shorter, more readable version 
lists how nonverbal reveals
   reinforcing messages
   revealing a person’s emotional state and response
   displaying the connection or relationship between people
   supplying feedback from one or a group to another
   signalling communication interaction

At three recent seminars, I noticed several intentional signals
that underscored the connection between people..

- after providing a solution to a job seeker’s dilemma of working
for companies that failed, he “fist-bumped” me.  It was both
inter-generational and at an unexpected event.  But I “got it.”
-  at a student event where each person introduced themselves and
offered “factoids” about themselves and where they are from, one
“veiled” lady taught her classmates how she greets new people.
Introducing oneself at meetings, women are expected to offer
their hand for a handshake.  In some cultures, women do not touch
another man and should show arms cross, hands open bow
to signal
that this is their cultural tradition.

-  soft-spoken members need to tailor their expression to the
situation.  They should start their comments louder at first,
gaining attention and favorable intention as an audience member,
enunciate consonants clearly and settling to their normal
volume so that people can hear. 
-  additionally, face as much of the audience as is practical
and while addressing one person create eye contact with others
in the audience.  Involving them.

-  in many meetings, there are presenters, listeners and one
or two notetakers.  In one meeting, our conversation was
warm and genuine and we reached areas of substance where
I noted that she frequently reverted to the notetaker role.
Do you do this often at meetings, I asked?  Yes, in fact, she
is often asked to send out her notes for the meeting.  At
certain points in careers we need to realize the secretarial
role is presumed to be lacking leadership skills
, whether
true or not.
-  occasional notes seem fine.  “thought-hooks”  It is more
mature if one seeks leadership responsibility to understand
that nonverbal signals send underlying and nonstated
messages.  True, they should be “tested” and verified.  Too often,
the notetaker while getting all the words, misses out on the
significant opportunities

-  in a seminar a presenter had to manage the A/V, maintain the
attention, and engage an unknown audience.  She smoothly
navigated a path to manage the program by walking the stage
smiling and asking feedback and input from different
areas of the room.

It is not enough that you know the material.  You have to be
an actress as well and have a “stage presence.”

1 comment
Networking. Keeping your network alive after a successful search/offer/negotiation
Filed under: Networking, First Year on Job
Posted by: site admin @ 9:30 am

Yesterday, I was pleased to join a number of fellow alumni
at a nice hotel adjacent to the Public Garden in Boston.

Interestingly, it was organized by the School of Management
with a formal presentation on “branding”.  This was the third
alumni event I have attended this year, each gathering brought
together different groups, had different agendas and were
stimulating from different perspectives.
[International Business school- networking;  Computer science
and Information management- how to have successful careers]

One question was raised, that was a bit off topic, by CW.  It led
to a follow-up discussion.    The question wasWhat do you
recommend and how should I “keep my network alive” after I
accept a new position offer?

Presuming CW sent (1)thank you notes to each key person and
(2) updated key networking profiles, there are several ways to
keep your network active.  They include:
(3) - contribute to online discussions proactively  offering
what your experiences have taught you (in a positive way)
(4) - display your commitment to your network by offering
help and being timely, courteous, and appropriate.
Remember: a network is not formed in an instant, but over time.
(5) - ask permission if you use them as a referral
(6) - be patient using “controlled persistence” in communicating
(7) - follow-up strategically with contributory information
(8) - don’t be afraid to ask for help, ask questions of your network
(9) - develop a team of mentors and create a toolkit for yourself
so you can act as a mentor for others.

[reference material, collections of key articles, different
online resources and tools, provide recommendations as
appropriate, add attributes to your profile]
(10) - set and communicate personal goals

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Statistical Correlations. Developing trends, Future of Career Management and Jobs
Filed under: Position Searching, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 11:08 am

Mayer-Schenenberger and Cukier have pointed out that
“big data” is about PREDICTIONS.  It applies computational
algorithms and mathematics to huge quantities of data,
often, “messy data,” and infers predictions.

This active trend affects traditional sampling plans and
sample distributions since, at its aim, it collects all the data
and can, as a result, provide a clearer view of the “granularity
of the data”– the sub-categories that smaller samples can

Further predictive analytics, based on correlations, detects
directions and inferences, yet does not seek causes or
test hypotheses,  as it alerts us to what is happening.

Examples include: 
-mechanical or structural failure predictions based on heat,
        vibrational, stress and sound patterns from sensors,
-hit songs and TV programs
-Amazon  services
-evaluating candidates
-data mining drug candidates

Counter to our intuition where we evoke “causality,” in which case,
as Kahneman says, our brain is too lazy to think slowly, we jump
to shortcuts.   Big data analytics provides a “reality check.”

Take the case of Louis Pasteur “curing” rabies in the nine year old
boy, Joseph Meister,  by inoculation in 1865.  Looking at the
data, on average only one in seven people bitten by rabid dogs
ever contracts rabies.  (85% chance he would survive without

ACS needs to serve its members by continuing to collect data,
but broaden its outlook on how the data can be “mined.” 
Mayer-Schonenberger and Cukier document that data is
(1) reused, after first use, (2)merged with other datasets to explore
new venues and (3)”extended”.  By extended, we use the “data exhaust.”

There is so much more ACS can do to serve its members,
just being open to new thoughts and emerging trends and not
feeling we have done it before or falling to the NiH syndrome.
(NiH = not invented here)

Where are chemical enterprise careers moving?  What skills
will be needed?                         PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS
How do we effectively help members gain advantageous skills?
What knowledge, approaches, methods and skills should be
offered to professionals?  How can it be done cost effectively?


International Graduate Students and Post Doctoral Fellows
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Post-docs, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 3:01 pm

We had a unique segment in our Preparing for Life
after Graduate School Workshop in Norfolk last
week.  Our discussant covered ‘Opportunities for
International Students.’ Since a significant fraction
of graduate student enrollment is international
(ranging from 30 to 80 per cent in institutions),
this seems timely.

The focus on our segment was on practical experiences.
The guidance to not give up when you do not hear back
or get a request to re-apply was offered.  Also, apply early.

Since there is a lottery for certain countries of origin,
it is worthwhile to apply if your country of origin is in
the selected group.

What also seems relevant, but is generally not expressed,
is to know who are elected officials in your area and
to seek their help.   After all, once citizenship is attained
there is a strong notion for a vote at election time and
for good reason.

We are planning a similar seminar on the same topic this
week where we will also include the following in our

 - EducationUSA
- Understand the American educational system
- Get involved socially to overcome cultural and language issues
- process various factors in deciding whether to go home
country or work in US
- companies that you apply to should use e-verify and be
willing to help citizenship issues
- develop networking skills- small talk, introductions, 
networking conversations and story telling