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

November 2015
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Trends in Technical Careers. Forecasting
Filed under: Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:49 am

Been reading Phillip Tetlock’s book “Superforecasters” since predicting
what will happen is something we often like to do in science.  As Charles
Kettering once said about his interest in the future ‘because the rest of
his life’ will be spent there.
Forecasting is hard work and can be learned.  People who do it well,
Tetlock opines, have a strong interest in information, a willingness to
adjust to new data, an ability to synthesize a view from various
perspectives, like a ‘dragonfly’s eye.’  They also pay attention to their
prediction compared to the actual result to learn from.

A rough process outline includes
    1.’unpacking’ the question into components
    2.distinguish between the known and unknown, while not leaving
assumptions untested
    3.assess the question from an objective ‘outside viewpoint’
    4.put the problem into a comparative perspective, which downplays its
uniqueness and treats it as a special case
    5.explore others’ predictions for similarities and differences attention to broader predictions from wider sources [wisdom
of crowds]
   7.synthesize the information and compare to actual, learning what
can be done to improve

Example discussions:
The singularity where technological intelligence overtakes human abilities
is predicted to be in 2030 [Vinge ]  and 2045 [Kurzweil ].
 Interesting competitions in forecasting provide events for evolving

Watch-Outs. 90. Clarity on Global environment issues, Investments, and Critical Thinking
Filed under: Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 10:29 am

When you are in the presence of a forward-seeking,
thoughtful person, it grabs your attention.  The first
link for your consideration is an ECS lecture from
October, 2015.  If you want to see where STEM education
can make a difference, this is a must view link.

We are barraged with half truths about where we
should place our hard-earned savings, our tax deferred
investments and rainy day securities.  While I am an
amateur, I am struck by some things that more than
not consistently work and that fail miserably.  Two links
point these out on municipal bonds and MLP master
limited partnerships.

The third entry was debated between embroiled free
speech controversies
, skeptical views of online
credentials and an amazing saga of a runaway best
selling book.  I chose the last.  It might be that the
naming of the saga can give similar information for
all three, by just changing a few words.
SOURCE:  A. Heller, Electrochemical Society Lecture, 10-15,
Wealth, Global Warming and Geoengineering
S. Arrhenius recognized that sunlight was reflected by clouds.
How much the world will warm depends on managing the
global climate.  This ends a sterling lecture that informs and
projects what we can prioritize to make a difference for
our world.

SOURCES:  L. Saunders, WSJ 11-14-15, p. B7
A shock $24000 Tax Bill
A. Kuriloff, WSJ 11-5-15, p. C1
Surprise 2015 Victor: Munis
Laura Saunders hit the nail right on the head about unexpected
tax bills resulting from owning partnerships in their IRAs.
The article addresses UBITs, unrelated business income, in
the tax code.  All the comments support this report.
Where do we invest in?  The world is uncertain, the market is
in frenzy mode, will the Fed increase rates…
Kuriloff gives readers a current comparison and then in
an insert offers what to look for when investing in
municipals and what to watch out for.

SOURCE:  D. Benoit, WSJ 11-17-15, p.1
Some Train readers on wrong track
This is a case of mistaken identity in the modern era.  Search a
book by title and come up with a book with a very similar title
and get increased sales in the book.
Modern era– depend so much on search routines that can lead
to different, unexpected results.  The tie-in to free speech on
campus and online certification is that there can be a loss of
“critical thinking” in the current day.  We must guard against
this loss and help bring that back to public discourse proactively
and courteously.

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Wise Skills. Personal Growth Agenda, Resilience and Reflective Pauses
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:27 am

There are so many media entries in video, e-books and
podcasts these days that provide “secrets” to land
a job you might desire.  Mostly the contents are
recycled material that helps you become “qualified.”

Competition has increased.  Advice might offer getting
“ahead of the curve,” but how long in advance can you
have the newest item?

There are some honest fundamentals relating to the
human condition and psychological behavior  that
can be lasting skills that are useful in many areas.
Indeed, these skills give you an advantage over “qualified”
candidates who have the required “soft” skills and necessary
“hard Skills.”  To differentiate them we call them “wise
Skills”, like:
    Face-to-Face communication
   Audience Analysis
   Committed Networking
Midcareer people also develop capacities to discipline
their attention and perceive trends with intuition.

Three skills appearing on the horizon of skills that might
differentiate you from other qualified candidates are:
   having a personal “growth” agenda,
   resilience and
   inserting pauses into your NOW habit.

Taken from John Maxwell’s work seeking growth allows
you to see yourself and add value to you and your actions.
In his 15 Laws of Growth book, Maxwell lays out a
reasoning and a method to counter human frailties
in order to balance your life and improve relationships
and careers..the growth paradigm
   sees the big picture, prioritizes
   measures your improvements and applies

Amanda Ripley wrote about Rick Riscorla who may have been
the wisest hire Morgan Stanley ever made.  He was responsible
for emergency evacuation of employees in the twin towers
attack.  Ripley breaks down the psychological impact of
people facing disasters and pieces together what helps people
develop a “survival arc.” 
   Constantly measuring and improving training in ways of
simulating likely scenarios, like evacuations
   Develop and use “breathing exercises” in the face of startle
   Know that there is a way out, positive attitude is a force
multiplier and we can learn from positive and negative events.

Many can identify one of their weaknesses as procrastination
in the face of fears, uncertainties and doubts.  There is a
common understanding that our brains work in several modes
and that the thinking mode is slower reacting.  So when
we are in the middle of an action or reluctant to take action,
you can gain much by pausing to reflect on the experience
to learn from it.  Maxwell offers four I’s to spell out your
  Investigate - reflect and gain insight
  Incubate - ask questions, ask for help, help others
  Illuminate - allow yourself to internally brainstorm
  Illustrate - look for analogies and metaphors, as stories
can clarify.

Undergraduate Majors. ITAR, Use of Contractors for Screening, Interviews
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Technicians, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 4:04 pm

More than thirty Chemistry field majors attended a workshop
Effective job Searching last Saturday.  The topics included:
Matching your skills and interests to the job market, Job
search strategies, Resumes and cover letters, Giving presentations,
Interviewing in larger organizations, Mock interviewing and
Resume reviews.

1.  More organizations are using recruiting firms to perform
screening resumes, screening interviews, and reference
They are adept at the process and are generally
not responsible for the final decision.  It is not ununsual for
the position to be temporary, but there are legal limits on the
length of temporary employment. 

2.  ITAR review to enter certain industrial sites.  Organizations
who design, manufacture and work with a number of government
agencies are required to comply with International Traffic in
Arms Regulations ITAR. 
Thus, if you are invited on site for
interviews you will need to bring along a birth certificate,
form of ID with your photo and may be expected to leave
your cell phone at the door
(no photos)..

3.  Problem solving interview questions are popular again.
These may require out of the box thinking.  They may require
how you might work with other applicants to solve a problem.
They may be time limited, may have no set answer and may
just demonstrate how you deal with unexpected situations.
We observed a mock interview asking:  how would you design
an emergency evacuation system for this building.

4.  It is hard to justify the one-page page length rule
of thumb
for resumes for all kinds of positions and applicants.
Each resume, however, does need to be targeted for each
situation using keywords.  It is an advertizing document for
you with a readable form and both computer and person
designed content.  It needs to be brief, concise and specific
with no errors.

5.  MBTI assessments were brought up several times as
helpful for preparation for your job search, for informal
meal interviews
and for audience analysis for presentations.

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Professional Behavior. Errors in Published Literature
Filed under: Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 5:38 am

Received a query about scientific literature and our professional
responsibility.  In our peer review scheme, it is unfortunate
when it happens but errors in presentation and accepted
interpretations can enter.  They occur and when they do
what is your responsibility.

“I have come across a paper published in a reputable journal,
[left out], in my research field….I noticed poor quality of the
paper, including lack of understanding of the literature, as well
as obvious, wrong conclusions which contradict the author’s
own figures…I think the peer review of this paper was not
rigorous enough…”
“Should I write to the journal editor…Do I have a responsibility
as a scientist.?”

The general rule of thumb for publications which you disagree
with like you apparently have is “Praise in public;  criticize in
private.”  If this is done then the group who is responsible for
the inaccuracies or misjudgments can publish a retraction.

In science we find disagreements based on our understanding many
times.  Science is supposed to be self-correcting in that correct
literature is cited many more times than incorrect literature.
Thus, often citated work is the bases for common understanding and
leads to acceptance. 

Then your responsibility is to NOT CITE the work in question.

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