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From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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06/24/15
Networking into an organization. Working with Gatekeepers to arrange a networking interview
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 4:37 pm

KF recently asked a question about networking into a company
through a university connection.
  The person is on an industrial
advisory board to the university.

He emailed:  ” Today I was searching a company website to find
a person to possibly network with, and noticed something obviously
wrong.  His email on the webpage is his colleague’s.  I probably
already figured out what the company pattern for addresses and
his “real” address is.  But, is it a positive thing to point out to
them the obvious error on the webpage?  Is it professional or
unprofessional to do so?”

Two responses and a comment followed in our exchange (leaving out
more personal elements of the messages).

1:  “If you know the person well,” I noted, “then it might be nice
to let them know about the “error” or something unusual.
Sometimes,” I added,” there is a role for an admin to receive
inquiries for a professional from people who are not well
known to the professional.  The admin can redirect important
emails, as necessary.  (This is a “gatekeeper” tactic in corporate
America, however.  2   Tactics that might be used with
gatekeepers
. )”

“However, I would refrain from sending an email to alert them
Perhaps, if you speak with them in the future you can ask for
their specific email address to use.” 

2:  An etiquette expert and colleague of mine, Mary Monica Mitchell,
offered:  “When faced with a dilemma, like the one you posed, I always
ask myself two questions:  First, would I want to know if the situation
were reversed?  Second, can the situation be remedied?  When answers
to both questions is yes, then I go for it
.

No need to give a lot of explanation.  Could sound something like “I
happened to notice… thought you might not be aware of… and that
you might appreciate a head’s up…”"

GATEKEEPER ROLE
This is one of the roles we need to be aware of and develop friendly
strategies.  My personal strategy is to remain very friendly, patient
and cooperative and do as much as I can in person.  Face to face
and respecting the role and authority the gatekeeper has and knowing
that it is their decision.


1 comment
06/20/15
Trends in Technical Careers. Biochemical engineering on a chip, Biogeochemistry using clumped isotopes
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 11:10 am

In March 2015 this blog shared links to organs on chips
devices Donald Ingbar presented in Washington in
his plenary talk.  This entry points to a link to work
on several organs-on-chips, leading to bodies-on-chips
which could model bodies responses to radiological
and biological attacks.

Applications of an amazing isotopic phenomenon
of heavy element clumping has received more attention
and being used to explore scientific questions.

BODY-ON-A-CHIP
SOURCE:  The Economist, 6-13-15, P.75,”Towards a
Body-on-a-Chip”

Chips not containing full organs, but small colonies of
cells that replicate organ functions are being developed,
They may provide a physical test bed containing biochemical
and physical environments.  DARPA the article indicates
requests work on as many as ten organ model systems to
pursue nuclear and biological incident studies on  small
scales

ISOTOPE CLUMPING AND ISOTOPOLOGUES
SOURCES:  “What are clumped isotopes
“Photosynthesis studies using clumped isotopes.
Effects of Brine Chemistry and polymorphism on isotope
clumping

Did you know that lower temperatures favor the formation
of heavier isotope combination molecules than based on
random combinations of natural isotope ratios.  John Eiler
is credited with rationalizing this insight.  This might
have applications in biogeochemistry, Rice researchers
hypothesize.

New emerging tools such as the paleothermometer and
clumped isotope delta-47 values have been conceived based
on isotope clumping.  The tools are being used to model
complex geochemical hypotheses.

Aerodyne Research reports a tool for clumped ion measurement.

Wondered whether Dick Zare’s Cavity Ringdown spectroscopy
might be a tool for studying isotope clumpingNo references
seem to lead that way.

Comments Off
06/15/15
Watch-Outs. 83. Raising capital for Start-ups, 2015 H-1B Visas, CO2 as a photochemical feedstock
Filed under: Recent Posts, Job Offer (Situations), Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 5:29 pm

Individuals forming start-up companies have many things on
their mind.  One of the ones ACS Entrepreneur Network
points to is raising capital from investors.  Two links to
the Accelerators blog highlight what they
might think about first.

When we wish to hire qualified applicants to STEM
positions all stakeholders face challenges with many points
of view, including fairness, equity, people with the right
skill-set (soft, hard and wise skills), legal, ethical, political
and more.  Interesting discussions of H-1B programs in
2015 from the business perspective is linked below.

Finding ways to use CO2 as a feedstock in an efficient
process for value added chemicals is worthwhile research.
Recent advances at Berkeley are linked.

START-UP ACTIVITIES BEFORE VCs
SOURCES:  WSJ, 5-28-15, P.  B6, “What startups should
do before raising cash
;”   WSJ,  6-4-15, P.  B6, “When
should start-ups set out to raise money
.”
There is a lot of hype and PR in what you can read on
this topic.  Know when you are ready, know that a
lot of burdens are placed on the start-up when
investors are involved.

Investors often exchange capital for shares in the
company, betting on their future.  The more they
invest the more they will expect.  Plan carefully for
sustained growth and know where the investors’
money is going.

The first article’s examples are not “pure” startups.

H-1B GAMESMANSHIP MIGHT BE SHORT-TERM
THINKING
SOURCE:  WSJ, 6-3-15, P. A4, ” Firms, Workers Try
to Game Visa Lottery
,” 
The comments to this article show how much heartache
headache and struggle this complex situation is
providing.  Where is fairness in this tragicomedy?
The article points out some observables, comments
fill in some of the realities that are not mentioned.

SOlAR POWERED GREEN CHEMISTRY TO CAPTURE
CARBON DIOXIDE
SOURCE:  Photonics Spectra, June 2015, P. 60
Solar array turns carbon dioxide to useful chemicals
This has the potential to “change the chemical and
oil industry.”  It uses silicon and titanium oxide
nanowires combined in the laboratory with anaerobic
bacteria in water in model systems.

BONUS:  READING MUTUAL FUND PROSPECTUSES
SOURCE:  WSJ 6-8-15, P. R7, What a top 10 List
Does not tell you
.” 
Fund’s holdings can change before publication.
Sector allocation consistency may be more reliable
about holdings in addition to turnover.
Comments are helpful.
SEC Form N-Q- end of 1st, 3rd Q
SEC Form N-CSR- end of 2nd, 4th Q

1 comment
06/12/15
Experience requirement in job description
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 11:41 am

A highly qualified recent PhD found a job description that
“says 5 years of surfactant/colloid research experience is
required.  I have 4.  Other than that, I am a great fit for the
job.  There is a question on the application that specifically
asks if you have 5 years experience.”

My first response is (1) never lie.

Second, let’s (2) look at the specific job description phrases
“Ph.D. required (surfactant /colloid sciences preferred);
 minimum 5 years of work/ research experience in … field with publications;
 capable of carrying out independent research…; 
 proven track record in developing instrumentation methods…
 experience in using both internal and external resources..”

Then, (3) speak with some recruiters like at a job fair, through Linkedin,
look at informative discussion boards and seek their input about what
this means to them.  Some examples were:

  -a significant fraction of “…job descriptions are boiler plated copies
from somewhere else….”
  -employers want to ‘find the right person to offer the job to.’  “When
I use minimum of 5 years experience … I look to accomplish:
           eliminate entry level job seekers [immediately after degree]
           people who do not need protracted learning curve
           people who know the technology in use
           people with real world experience, not just academic…”
  - job requirements are seldom absolute….”what I would care about is
the plural of years, specific technologies and the commercial part.”

Finally, (4) contact a mentor to explore how to explore this opportunity
professionally.  It might or might not be right for me or for someone
else in my network who is looking.

Comments from a mentor were:  
“This may not be what you want to hear.  When a firm seeks industrial
experience, they would like applicants who have industrial not academic
experience.  A translation if this is a person with a PhD and two years
academic post doc is 1 year experience. [degree, plus half year for
each year of academic postdoc.]  PhD and three years in a small,
start up is 3 years experience.

What are they looking for?  They seek applicants who can collaborate
with multidisciplinary teams to achieve commercial objectives….”     

ACTION ITEMS - Do an information interview
“Consider calling and speaking with either someone in your network
at the company, someone through linkedin, or someone you meet at a
meeting and tell them of your interest in working in the firm.  Let
them know you have seen a posting that may fit but wanted to check
on whether your qualifications met what they were seeking. ”

- Follow the direct contact with a proactive thank you note.

comments (0)
06/05/15
Watch-Outs. 82. Business strategies, Legal covenants, where mfg jobs are, Overtime pay
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Technicians, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 8:04 am

What do you know about the documents you sign
when you are employed by an organization?  Al
Sklover provides deep insight into what they protect,
require and imply in one “watch out” link.

When studying organizations to determine pros and
cons for their mission and strategy we are faced with
some unfamiliar terms.  The Economist reviews some
current popular styles that can provide help in your
job search,

WSJ projected where manufacturing jobs of the future
will be.  It provides “down to earth” reading that society
publications might not be as forthcoming with.

RESTRICTIVE COVENANT DOCUMENTS
SOURCE:  A. Sklover, “Non-Solicitation agreements
from A to Z
” April 2015
An authoritative  description of restrictive covenants is
agreements to limit your future work-related effort, Al Sklover
offers.  They include:  non-competes, non-solicitation and
nondisclosure.  The site renders thoughts and opinions about
what wording to look for and seek an understanding of, if you
are faced with such agreements.  Clear language and integrity
stand out in the “working wisdom blog.”

BUSINESS STRATEGY DEFINITIONS
SOURCE:  The Economist, Schumpeter, “A palette of plans
5-30-15. p. 66
Business life cycles, mergers and acquisitions, patent litigation
and joint ventures, product recalls and new updates dominate
the marketplace.  When you evaluate firms to consider working
at, it might be helpful to have a clue on the business strategy
since working there is truly investing your time and very likely
your resources.  Schumpeter summarizes a Boston Consulting
Group book on business strategies.  It describes:
niche-dominating, adaptive-evolving (4E model), blue ocean
(whole new market), broad-partnering, and being-nimble-
striving for-efficiency strategies.

FORECAST:  FUTURE MANUFACTURING JOBS
SOURCE, WSJ, 6-3-15, p. R6,”Where the manufacturing jobs
of the future will be

This article is a litmus test for job forecasting of technical
professionals.  Realize that things will change, like the fracking
revolution for jobs in the oil patch and flexible innovation
when oil prices suddenly declined in the last year.
The article does not relate directly to PhDs and post-docs,
but it does indicate the health of certain industries and
the top locations  of chemical plants and plant systems
operators.

BONUS Sklover Working Wisdom:  Topic OVERTIME PAY

comments (0)
06/03/15
Transferable Skills. Problem Solving
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:51 am

Very interestingly I ran across a recently posted job
description
that included a “technical skill” that was
a new term for me.

It was “8D type problem solving.”   Curiosity led me
to discover  that it is an abbreviation for Ford Motor
Corporation’s 8 Disciplines or stages
which are listed:
Plan, Form a team, Describe the problem, Determine
an interim plan, Root cause evaluation, Verify
corrective actions, Develop corrective action plan,
Implement, Prevent re occurrence, Congratulate.

This blog has reported on the often used term
Transferable skills and I would propose that problem
solving skills updating would be one course the ACS
should regularly provide for members.  It is offered
in various contexts and is quite similar to the Six Sigma
Protocol
which has been implemented in a wide variety
of scenarios and venues.

If there is one training program to take or refresh when
one is in between positions, it would be one of these
Six Sigma or 8D, which is updated with the latest terms,
software and fresh examples applied perhaps to your
fields of interest.

comments (0)