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

June 2014
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Preparation for upcoming projects: Communication skills and Career Management
Filed under: Public Relations docs, Leadership, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 2:25 pm

Performing detailed research, preparing meaningful stories
and developing engaging exercises are the focus of recent
efforts in organizing an article and preparing a future seminar. 
These efforts offer an opportunity to study others’ amazing
work and see where important insights from one field can
be useful and merged into another field
where there might
not be an immediate connection.

Enough set-up, let’s get to setting goals and maybe, equally
important, developing habits and learning about the concept of

Habit Stacking“.
SOURCE:  S. J. Scott, “Habit Stacking: 97 Small life changes...”

The author has a website and has suggested an incredible number
of mini-routines that just make sense to ordering and improving
our lives.  ‘Habit stacking‘ involves formulating a checklist of these
mini-routines in a logical order where you complete positive
habits, without even a second thought, like jotting down key things
you want to say before you speak and allowing yourself personal
self-control to have eye contact with your audience, breathe and
pace your message for maximum impact and employ demonstrative
nonverbals for professional effect.

There are habit stacks for internet marketing,
wellness, fitness, careers, strengthening willpower.
See SJ’s 203 good habits.
One of his first is writing down personal goals…

SOURCE:  James W. Pennebaker, “The Secret Life of Pronouns:
What our words say about us,” Bloomsbery Press, NY, 2011

I was stunned reading that certain words you and I use don’t
carry a lot of meaning but connect the content of what we say
and reveal much of our thinking, what we pay attention to
and our relationship to the reader or listener.  These words
are “function words”–pronouns, articles, prepositions,
auxiliary verbs (ie, is), negation (ie, not), conjunctions (ie, but)
quantifiers (ie, few) and common adverbs (ie, really).

What generated this field of study, that may have wider application,
is the use of software LIWC (Logical Inquiry and Word Count;
“luke”) that “google-izes” emails and text of documents and
speeches to assess the words the authors use and infer thinking
details.  Examples:
-    2d, 3d person personal pronouns-  attention to other people
-    past tense verbs-  attention to past events
-    1st person personal pronouns- reveals self reflecting
It is more the higher frequency of use, rather than a single occurrence.

Thinking style:
complex vs. simple:  Complex thinking uses larger words, longer
sentences and complicated sentences involving “language markers”
for categorization. except, but, until, without, unless…

dynamic vs. categorical:
  Dynamical can be more abstract and
ever-changing principles.  Categorical uses concrete nouns to
describe objects, events and particular people.


International Business Travel. VAT Refund
Filed under: Mature professionals, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 12:03 pm

A traveler visited three major universities in the UK in
2013– King’s (London) College to see the image and
equipment of “photo 51“, Oxford University Genetic
Genealogy Department to explore genetic Y Chromosome
studies, and the “uni” at Edinburgh University.

They were able to apply and receive a refund for
certain expenses
(also 2  )being affiliated to a university
in the US. 

It is something to consider for those spending some
time in the EU.  The application process is arduous,
the rules and regulations are strictly adhered, but
the reimbursement can be worth the effort.

Things to consider:
- save the receipts for every expense, especially hotel
charges and ask for separate listing of VAT (VAT on
hotels is reimbursed expense)
- obtain the correct application form.  In UK it was
Application for refund of VAT
- obtain a letter from IRS certifying US residency
Form 8802 from IRS ($85, in 2013;  takes 2 months)
- must apply before Dec. 31 of the year of travel
- payment will only be in GBP sterling by wire, only
- required to set up an account that will allow wire
transfers from UK to US.  Most banks and credit unions
do not do this.  Fidelity Investments brokerage accounts
do handle this kind of transaction but it must be set up
in advance with specific information that needs to be
provided on your application for refund form:  

1.  Bank Account
2.  IBAN (Int. Bank
A/c No. Europe Only)   
3.  Bank
Identification Code                      
4.  SWIFT Code                                          
6.  Business Bank
Account Name               
7.  Bank Name                                             
8.  Bank Address                           
For Credit to                                  
For Final Credit to          

1 comment
Watch-outs. 58. Microscopes, dealing with stress, inside info on legal profession and etiquette
Filed under: Interviewing, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 12:10 pm

One of the related professions scientists and engineers can make
a contribution in and a living is in the legal realm.  There is a
guild-like restrictive ownership structure and admission requirements
that should be more widely known and perhaps challenged by free
market alternatives.

An area that seems like it may have arrived due to nanotechnology
and new designs for manufacture is microscopy.  The technology
has incredibly broad applications, especially when combined with
other discriminating technologies.

While it seems to be a  common fact of existence in society to
“cope with stress” the accelerators (WSJ) covers some stress
signals and releasers that might be broadly beneficial.

A bonus segment on appropriate apparel this week is offered.
It might be viewed with controversy, as biased, or old-fashioned.
It does stand up to the test of time.

SOURCE:  The Economist, 2-2-13, p. 12, “Guilty as Charged
In more detail in the comments, this link opens an area often
identified as an alternate career field.  Cost, time and restrictive
structures limit entry, keep outsiders from challenging and
the free enterprise system from improving.

This link and many comments may offer a sanity check for
those interested in the realities of a legal profession after a
technical degree.

SOURCES:  The Economist, 6-7-14, p. 4 Technology
Quarterly, “Yours to cut out and keep“  M. Freebody,
Biophotonics 2013
Refreshing to see not only creative lateral thinking
to design a “foldscope” by Manu Prakhash, but also
applications to diagnose diseases, avoid milk-born
parasites by boiling, mites and fungi from infesting
beehives.  Combining foldscope ideas with STED
or fluorescence microscopy is not
far away.

SOURCE:  WSJ 6-19-14, p. B9, Coping with Highs,

Four things are highlighted in this short entry to reduce
stress– using a gym, having professional mentors,
sleep hygiene and remembering “why”.  Why are
we devoting time, energy, resources to accomplish
a task or meet a goal?

Signs of stress:  loss of empathy, building up anxiety
and stress of team, friends or family, ’short fuses.’

BONUS:  Professional Etiquette
While a WSJ article on special programs at
consulting firms for influencing interns to learn and
dress appropriately for business and professional
situations, the University of Kansas slideshow appears
more helpful.  It covers not only attire but also,
introductions and communications.


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Trends in Technical Careers. Networking, Elevator Speeches and Using mentors to make decisions
Filed under: Networking, Job Offer (Situations), Post-docs, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 11:26 am

Assisting others and offering suggestions is a pleasant
experience especially when we get feedback that job
offers result.  Recently, a half dozen people have asked
for ideas and information in their career management

After interviewing at three firms and attending many job
fairs, one person had to decide what to do with three
post-doc offers.

After working for three years in neurochemistry, another
post-doc had to decide whether to work at an exciting
start-up company or a subsidiary of a larger organization.

After interviewing for a small firm and for a post-doc in
a different field, a third person asked if there were other
things to consider.

A half dozen trends people in science and engineering
fields should know are:
(1) Hone a strong elevator speech.  Use plain, understandable
language, based on audience analysis.

(2) Don’t be dismayed by not immediately getting
interviews, or if getting interviews, not receiving offers.
Refashion your goals; refashion your approach;
ask for help.
Think about nontraditional ways to use your skills.

(3) Improve and develop your networking skills.  Now,
networking leads in improving your chances and more so
after your first position.  Don’t wait to start doing it.

(4) The interview is not over after the meeting and you
have sent your thank you notes.  There is much more that
needs to be done well.  Consider the ‘After section’
in the interviewing continuum… and
Steps in accepting an offer (5:07 point in video )

(5)  Your first position after your degree and or post-doc
will last an unknown length of time.  Then you will need to
find your next position.  It might be wise to not wait and
start your career management process earlier.

(6)  Your job search should continue even after you
receive your first job offer.  Follow through with the
process at other places you have made efforts at. 
Consult with mentors on how to respond professionally.

1 comment
Watch-outs. 57. Graduate Student Career Development, Inheritance planning and Physics of the Future
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 9:10 am

Three activities inspire the links provided in this
contribution.  The first activity involves planning
a future workshop on goal-setting for graduate students. 
While we have mentioned the first step in interviewing
is a personal self assessment, a DP provides an
elaboration of this.  Several universities encourage
their graduate students to develop personal development
plans DP and career goals as part of their graduate
formal education. 

Investment and withdrawal strategies in retirement
have rules of thumb.  An interesting feature is that
each so-called rule is based on a series of assumptions. 
A link provides discussion on the assumptions.

A third topic, based on a recent book, provides a link to
some rational analysis of what the future may lay in
store for us.  The writing and perspectives are clear and

SOURCE:  University of Minnesota publication
What will you do with your graduate degree and
experiences?  What other things should you be doing
to grow professionally?
Several organizations, like FASEB, provide a tool
for post-docs to express career goals and what
is needed to achieve them.  Many features are included
in this U-MN planning tool.  Also, this document gives
an updated outline and template for completing
this process earlier while in graduate school.

SOURCE:  A. Coombes, WSJ 6-3-14, R5
“The Most Valuable Asset to Leave to your Heirs”
 Coombes has written that seniors feel is passing
on the “family story”  to younger generations.  Not
Some will want to leave money.  The author provides
some discussion about the assumptions considered
in retirement savings withdrawal plans.  It fills an
information gap for the simple rules of thumb that are
commonly offered, like ‘4% of your savings per year’
and ‘defer taking social security’.

SOURCE:  M. Kaku, “The Physics of the Future” Anchor
Insightful writing capturing the integration of 300
mentors into a coherent picture of the strong influence of
physics on civilization and forecasts of what our world will
be like in 90 years, in 30 years, in 10 years.
He writes that humans’ sense of pattern recognition and
practical ‘common sense’ are our strengths to continue
to imbue.  Yet, our “caveman” outlook generally restricts
our adoption of novel technologies.

The next cycle of advances he predicts will be based on
advances in artificial intelligence, nanotechnology,
telecommunication and biotechnology.

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