One of the missing ingredients that graduate and undergraduate
students feel they suffer is not having practical experience.
The practical experience would provide wider exposure to
situations, models, mentors, and problems that full-time
employment opportunities will look for.
It is good to attend meetings to check out employment boards
and have an chance to observe, meet, and go to mixers with
company representatives. Some firms will be looking for
mid-career professionals; others will be looking for recent
graduates. Finally, some employers and some recruiters will
be looking for interns and temporary employees. These kinds
of positions are not often listed on company web-sites. So, it
is wise to attend meetings and ask for them.
To this end, a colleague asked me to review her resume for the
purpose of applying for internships. She has a solid background
in materials, applied physics and magnetics and seeks to apply
her background in experimental material science.
JJ has developed a brief public relations document offering
nice information about
herself: all the necessary heading information, including Linkedin
her qualifications: experimental microscopy methods using several
probes, magnetometers, bulk and film material characterization
her skills: data analysis tools and crystal and magnetic property
her honors and awards
What is missing in this technical skill portion (Experience) of her
resume are specific accomplishments in her laboratory work at three
institutions. There is nothing she has written that substantiates
specific projects and accomplishments. This is needed in the
resume in brief bulleted statements. In its place, however, are
There is nice organization to the document, with separate pages for
Publications and presentations and references. It would help to have
her name on each page. If you can have a readable font size, like 10
or 11, it will serve you.
Be careful about formatting documents within Word. You may not
be able to maintain the format when it is imported into the company
web page. Think about using .txt and avoid going wild with format.
A colleague currently in an industrial post doc
position in a radiopharmaceutical firm contacted
me. JJ has been there for nearly a year and wondered
what he should do next.
Despite the pronouncements about the need for more
technically trained scientists and engineers for future
prosperity, jobs and careers are not always clear.
We often hear about how various industrial firms are
starting, continuing or expanding their post doctoral
programs. CENews recently reported as much. Yet,
we do not hear about what to do next. The career path
is not so clear.
[The case is the same in the UK: Meetings are conducted.]
JJ indicated that he had a discussion with his supervisor
about continuing on. The boss indicated that his work was
appreciated. While he would like a permanent position,
he learned about a potential 2 year extension on his unique,
first time in the company post-doctoral position.
We talked about it being very good that JJ had established
good working relationships with his supervisor. It might
be appropriate to inquire if you could be offered a longer
term commitment for working at the company. You liked
working there and would like to have your career grow at
the company. [if that is the case.] You might ask what are
the chances and what is the decision timeline so that you
can work together productively.
Other things to consider
We know post doctoral appointments are usually temporary
and that industrial post-docs can pose limitations on
publishing, networking and attending meetings. See also.
How are the business conditions in the company’s future?
Are sales and profits improving? Are staff being added?
New products? New customers?
What should he do?
- Assess if there is one or more positions currently open or
available for him to fill. Speak with people of influence and
information in the company.
- Determine what are your accomplishments in your post
doc. What are accomplishments that you can insert into
your resume? Should you consider using a List of Projects
page? What have you patented? Published? Presentations
at technical meetings and with customers? Consider contacting
customers. These are mostly involving application of
technical skills and developing new skills.
- Have you worked on improving your soft skills? How is
your communication, working in groups, coming up with new
ideas, implementing things and scaling up? Any interactions
with customers, vendors, negotiations?
- Have you developed new wise skills for your self that will
set you apart from your competition? Do you have mentors?
Have you improved your intuition? Do you have a working
set of keystone habits– avoiding procastination with the NOW
habit? Have you further developed your “committed network.”
Now is the time to use it.
Please remember, verbal offers are not legally binding. If
you receive an offer verbally, ask for it in writing with all the
For many decades, with so many scientists working in many
fields, some have observed what else is there to learn? What
are the forefront areas of new and useful science? That is
what our future needs to know, to figure out where our careers
This is the tenth contribution in this topic area. Previous ones
- VISION 2025 Circles of Chemistry
- Photonics careers and overlap with chemistry, materials
- Instrumentation, microsurgery, diagnoses and therapies for
- light weight metals and display technology materials
- sustainable chemistry of the future
- dealing with super-bugs and pan-resistance of diseases
- discovery informatics
This entry brings up non-destructive sensing and resolution
in the terahertz range, super-resolution microscopy at lengths
shorter than the wavelength of light, and more electronegative
species than halogens. All of these seemed unpredictable thirty
TERAHERTZ SENSING AND TECHNOLOGIES
Between electronics and optics is the sub-millimeter region
that is attractive to medical applications and other fields due
to new transistors and “negative index materials.” Popular
literature suggests being able to detect illegal materials
selectively through normal clothing. Several research centers have
focused work on full systems and various specific aspects
like CMDITR. (SPIE Conferences, as well.)
3-D distributions of proteins and lipids in living cells
noninvasively down to a resolution of tens of nanometers
results from a technique invented by Stefan Hall and developed
Many of these methods are standard in biological laboratories.
The method is based on “feature separation,” where nanosized
features can be singled out if other features are de-selected.
The diffraction limit of light no longer restricts the resolving
power of a microscope. Interestingly the 1994 work patented
about that time, runs out of patent protection shortly.
HYPERHALOGEN CHEMISTRY WITH HIGH ELECTRON
A species with higher EA than fluorine. reported by P. Jena
that could be superoxidizers for fuels and hydrogen storage.
The work was conceived based on theoretical predictions.
Here are some “red flags” for a professional interview and
some suggestions to be prepared for and counter.
Arriving late for an interview
Always plan more time than you think you will need to
arrive at your appointed time and find out where you are
Consider traveling to the location the day before, if
possible, to estimate the times and get traffic information.
Always good to get a telephone number to call if there
is any chance for delay. Also, you can call and let your
host know you have arrived the day before the interview.
Have a plan of what you will do when you arrive.
Meet people, learn or confirm things about the culture.
Display good etiquette with personal communication tools
Even turn off vibrate
Suggest not even using in rest room or “isolated areas”
Position job description, recent company information and
recent financial reports on the company
Not a bad idea to speak to your financial adviser about the
company. [after all it is a financial decision]
You will show something if you do a good literature review
about the company history, mergers, leaders, and products.
Match your skills experience, and qualifications to the needs
Knowing the job description, show that your skills are either
transferable or a good match to the “musts and wants”
Not knowing the job description, use your network input,
glassdoor.com, and web site information (annual report) to
begin the conversations about using stories to show your
skills and experience match their needs.
Know yourself, know how your style can appear to your
interviewers, learn attentively the styles of your
interviewers and pay attention to nonverbal feedback
to your performance
You are always being judged by all the people you meet.
Remember, three things happen: being lucky, using your
skill or applying your intuition. The skillful are both
lucky and develop intuition.
Regulate and adapt to your environment.
Focus on your goal, not on yourself.
Let the reality of the situation be your guide.
We all have faults and weaknesses. Know yours and what
you are doing to offset or reduce them.
Practice giving your responses.
Review typical questions and prepare stories for responses.
Check your response times, “come up for air.”
Aim to make it a two-way, enjoyable conversation.
Does controversy prevent you from putting your ideas in the
public domain? As we know, when we introduce a new or a
counter-intuitive notion, many will criticize or disbelieve.
The key thing is to listen. Then, think seriously to
devise experiments to test thoughtful hypotheses. It is
time to fully observe and interrogate from several perspectives.
NEW TREND: video conferencing growth
More and more virtual video conferencing is a method of
choice for people to get together, just like “drive through”
windows for transactions. Rachel Nielsen describes business
results, companies involved, and relating it to CERN’s high
level of virtual meetings .
OBSERVATIONS: The bigger trend than having meetings is
collaboration at a distance using iPads, handhelds, sharing
data and workscreens on projects. This leads to a flurry of
hardware and software solutions to develop needed collaborative
meeting room functionality.
IMPLICATIONS: Video conferencing is evolving as an
important co-curricular skill for many fields.
1. “I” reveals your relational status- Pennebaker
E. Bernstein authored a report summarizing Pennebaker’s
work on conversational use of pronouns. Controversy
surrounds some of the article’s assertions relating to
use of “I” and the “status of the person”. She offers
that a person who uses “I” less frequently is the higher
status person and can be associated with “hiding the
truth.” While she does indicate that “mirroring” the
conversation partner is helpful, use the “use of I” in
your self expression while observing verbal and
nonverbal signals in your listeners.
TAKE AWAY: Different signals are assessed with the use
of “I” in communication. It is wise to test with a mentor
to see what fits best in different situations and audiences.
2. Computer models to predict job success using skills,
behaviors and values- Google, Conagra, Avon Products
Rachel King wrote a piece that revealed that a number of
firms have developed algorithms to infer who would be
good hires, who would want to leave a firm and who should
be Fast Tracked for higher positions.
TAKE AWAY: In the world of “big data” many computational
studies may be hypothesized and conclusions inferred. They
are correlational and significant ones that affect people,
future possibilities and long term issues should be specifically
tested and confirmed. See a series of commentaries.
Pier Forni has written about dealing with rude behavior.
Saying please, excuse me and thank you are leading items.
There are many good reasons for writing than you notes.
One of them was shared by Richard Desmond that I just
need to share:
“I saw the email about a seminar on writing a cover letter
and something that happened at lunch today made me think
to reach out to you. …I landed an Assistant Professor
position…[in part due to a thoughtful thank you letter.]
We were at lunch today and one of my colleagues mentioned
he was cleaning his desk and found my “thank you” note
from last spring. He appreciated it and was impressed that I
included a detail from our interaction that day. Another colleague
(chair of the search committee) then added it was an easy
decision, as I was the only candidate to send a “thank you.”
[While there were a number of qualified candidates,] but
it did help me make an impression and set myself apart from
The features of a thank you note are that it is a (1) prompt
expression of (2) interest in you, (3) it reveals excellent business
sense, and includes (4) civil follow-up on discussions, tours,
observations and questions.
For interviews: mention your interest in working at the place
where you are being considered.
Make sure that you write it authoritatively showing that you
were there. It is ineffective if it sounds like anyone could have
I was so pleased that in each of the last two weeks to
be able to meet with undergraduates at Niagara University
and UCONN and share with them some observations
about employment trends.
There are two headline areas that were shared. The
first headline is that careers have morphed into something
less predicable, more varied and much more dependent on
technical or hard skills, soft skills and wise skills.
Along with this morphing is a media domination of our
attention that Douglass Rushkoff has written about freeing
ourselves from the tornado of effects that the loss of
personal narratives, change of the perspective of time and
multitasking to ground ourselves in a purposeful, nurturing
world. [Suggestion: Do a personal self assessment and pursue
mentors to establish goals and create a narrative.]
The second headline is the Chemistry Jobs– Simplified
View paradigm of four concentric circles, where the to
the center is the more focused on the disciplines of
chemistry, engineering, materials isolation, fabrication and
The second circle from the center is Chemistry based jobs
and includes extraction, manufacturing, regulatory, sales,
technical services, quality control and design.
The third circle from the center involves science-related
jobs, including biology, geology, physics, medicine, toxicology
astronomy, space science and the like. Also, policy,
journalism, business and research and grant management,
association and organizational advocacy.
Finally, the fourth concentric circle is science inspired jobs
which include venture capital, economics, futurist and movies
[from the VISION 2025 ACS Presidential Task Force of
Dr. Marinda Wu, p. 18]
There are untold numbers of ways chemistry skills and background
can and do provide jobs and future careers. To help them develop
we encouraged gaining experience via
internships [undergraduate research fits here, as well],
purposefully develop co-curricular skills,
know the importance of referrals and committed networking,
have a professional internet presence and
be willing to work your way up.
We are seriously living in a time of abundance. Wise futurists
provide many diverse possibilities, including Diamondis,
Anastas and Vaitheeswaran.
Three items triggered this post on starting your own
business or joining a start-up. The first was a neat
podcast by Tom Ashbrook on “mentors for a new
Tom interviewed experts who mentor or were mentored
by people to start something on their own. Summing
it up, things to do and expect:
- don’t go it alone, get mentors and advisers
- find niche markets and develop an evolving business
- “location, location, location” will provide a longlasting
- it is common that income for start-ups is episodic–
lucrative months and shallow months. Know how you
will manage through this and plan to have failures or
mistakes happen quickly and use them as “teachable
moments,” so you gain from them.
The second is a Photonics Spectra ‘Start-ups Insight‘
interview of Jan Melles who lists five tips. Many have
been touched on in previous segments. He titles the
article Focus on the customer and urges us to develop
a “no matter what, we will succeed” attitude.
The WSJ Accelerators blog points out some truisms
and helpful tips. At the beginning, the income rate
per hour is lower. After settling in, the income rate
increases to a steady state. While paid marketing
helps tell your story, word of mouth revealing satisfaction
and a good product/service speaks volumes. Financial
metrics and a net promoter score of customers–
promoters, passives and detractors leads to growth.
Three topics that may help you respond to interview
behavioral questions, know when to send emails,
and understand significant questions to ask when
first starting a new job are highlighted. Have you
ever gone into an interview and been asked:
“Describe a situation where you had a conflict with
someone, or your boss. What did you do?” Or:
“What do you dislike or wish could be changed at
your current or previous position or situation?”
Did you ever think through the best times and days
we should send emails, if we wish a response?”
What are essential questions to ask when you first
start at a new position?
SOURCE: R. Feintseig, WSJ 8-28-13, p. B6
“When co-workers don’t play nice.”
The article states that uncivil behavior is a
significant factor in unhappiness at work, low productivity,
and people moving on. Pier Forni has been cited
several times in this blog for his pointing out the critical
nature of civility in human interactions and how we might
behave toward others. This article adds at least one new
practical rule of thumb:
the 10/5 rule: Within 10 feet acknowledge a person;
5 feet, say hello.
Other thoughts that may help with responding to the
conflict resolution interview questions are suggested
in this article.
EMAIL SENDING TIMING
SOURCE: J. Cummings, CareerHub, 10-1-13
Based on “click to open” data, she suggests better
times to send Job Search emails are: 6am-10, noon
-2pm, and 7pm-10 on Thursday and early Monday.
Avoid overnight, lunch and dinner time hours.
Who would have guessed?
QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN NEW TO A POSITION
SOURCE: A. Sklover, SkloverWorkingWisdom, 10-1-13
Al Sklover provides something few can match. This time
he provides professionals sage advice on what to ask for
when you begin a job, including:
- copies of all documents you signed,
- employee handbook and rules, regulations and contacts
- policies and procedures for payroll, expense reporting,
- written plans for employee assistance, severance, bonus,
401K, and even non-compete agreements if requested to
We know that a large fraction of jobs are not advertized.
As we know this is the “hidden job market,”
In addition, outsourcing firms can manage the announcement,
screening and evaluation of candidates in many cases. The ways
we can contribute and find satisfying careers requires us to
be proactive, confident and curious.
For those positions or careers that do have postings of job
descriptions, did you ever read through them and say to
yourself: ‘No one has all the experience listed in this placement
except a few people working for this firm.’
Often submissions in response to the job description posting
are online and we do not know what happens after we press “send.”
A significant fraction of the submissions are interrogated by
ATS Applicant Tracking System software, even before
a person sees the document.
How do they write these documents and what do they expect?
As background for job descriptions, Allison Doyle does a
creditable job in outlining the US Department of Labor
breakdown of employment clusters and resources. Wikipedia
gives some hints and link,s as well.
Lauren Weber described how a good job description conveys
a clear picture of the position and employer’s culture in a
recent WSJ article. She offered three constraints for job
description writers and new trends she is seeing.
- knowing only what has been written before and what they
see themselves, hiring managers will lump all the “musts”
and “wants” together. It leads to too many criteria.
- burdened by too many day-to-day tasks, hiring managers
avoid separating the leading skills a successful new hire
should possess. This often leads to description by committee.
- legal and administrative reviews can format and structure
a description like a legal document, often losing its readability
and appeal. Weber writes it diminishes the attention each
posting might deserve.
Encourage the right talent and experience level people to be
attracted to apply for an opening using necessary and sufficient
TheMuse.com offers a crafting and posting service that provides
a summary and a well crafted photo, story line and importance
of the role. [Lauren neatly adds how this is compensated.]
HireArt is a job search firm that services transactional
organizations using several recent technologies. While not
the approach of technical firms yet, if very successful it
may be how future job descriptions will appear.
This past week, I met with an Associate Dean of the
School of Management of my alma mater, Gwen Appelbaum.
She was highlighted in a previous blog about managing a
Gwen shared a terrific program that has high value
for MBAs, LeaderCore, which advocates ten “competencies”.
Interestingly, this program is a certificate program to better
prepare leaders of the future.
We talked about trends in MBA education, like
- one year MBA programs [seems awfully “shoehorned”
for preparing people for business leadership. ie., trying
to squeeze too much into one year.],
- PhDs going on for MBAs [seems fine for certain areas
in entrepreneurial activities, but LeaderCore may be a better
- guidance for what to wear in business situations. [Gwen
sent me a link containing images of appropriate women’s and
We explored win-win opportunities in other areas as well.
Professionals take the opportunity to meet leaders in
other disciplines for their perspectives and trends they