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From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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01/21/19
Professional Profiles. 4.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:28 am
Profile:
Pharmaceutical Process Research

- What do you say when asked about your personal style and responsibilities?
I have never been asked that question but it is good question which I will prepare for my next interview.   


- Are you challenged?  What stresses you?
Yes. Working on a work visa can be stressful because you cannot plan long term for practically any aspect of your life. 


- Describe your title, how long you have been in your role and your most enjoyable responsibilities and tasks.
Research Scientist. I have been in this role for a year. The responsibilities I enjoy the most include troubleshooting the formulation and process related issues for iotech startup customers from all over the world. 


- How did you land your current position?  Do you continuously keep an open mind to changing positions?  How long should we stay in our positions?
Job interview. Yes, now that I have a better idea of the spectrum of opportunities available in my current company, I would like to branch out and learn more in the field of drug development in about a year’s time from now. 


- What do you believe aided you in being awarded your position?
My Postdoctoral advisor’s influence in the pharma industry.


- Have you refused an offer that you think you should have taken?  What were the factors in your decision?
Yes. I had to give up on an informal but direct offer from a top pharma company because the company’s policies did not allow sponsorship of my work visa. I told the R&D manager that I will go ahead and accept offer from my current company and will stay in touch with her. That was the end of the interview process. 


- What opportunities and challenges do you see provide growth for you?
The ability to interact with the experts in my field provides me an opportunity to build a long-term perspective about the pharma industry and the potential career milestones I need to be aware of. One of the biggest challenge faced by the pharma industry is their conservative approach towards the drug development process that makes the entire process more tedious and sometimes more expensive. This conservative approach provides me an opportunity to suggest scientifically acceptable cheaper alternatives. 


 - What are ways that you go out of your way to expand your network?
Attend conferences. Volunteer to take on-site customers out for lunch or dinner. Stay in touch with seniors and peers from your academic lab because you never know whom they will introduce you to. 


 - What comments do you wish to make for people who are graduating or planning on moving on in the next year  
Talk to seniors and professionals in your network before you commit to your next organization. People are usually very helpful in sharing their professional experiences.

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01/20/19
Professional Profiles. 3.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 6:55 am
Profile
Field Application Scientist

- What do you say when asked about your personal style and responsibilities?

I think I am  a “people person.”  I enjoy talking about science with peers. I try to engage with customers with friendly approach, which is critical in my position as I need to develop good working collaborations with them.  I chose to become field applications scientist because I thought it would give me opportunities to communicate science without having to do it inside four walls.  As a field applications scientist (FAS) I have two main responsibilites- 1) presales-  as a technical expert help account managers to drive business in a given territory.   2) to help customers in their projects (like a consultant) after they adopt our product and train them in using it. This is where friendly approach is useful because customers then feel comfortable talking about their projects openly with me. 
.

- Are you challenged?  What stresses you?

The current job responsibilities offer many challenges with exciting opportunities. The challenging part is understanding customer needs and delivering customer centric presentations. there is always some stress when you need to convert to sale and help account managers do that. but luckily FASs are not required to close deals.
Another exciting and challenging responsibility is to stay abreast in latest scientific developments. Let it be new scientific applications for the technology or developments related to clinical trials of a new drug and how company’s product would help in that.  
.

- Describe your title, how long you have been in your role and your most enjoyable responsibilities and tasks.

I have been working as FAS for almost three years. and I currently enjoy it for aforementioned reasons. 


- How did you land your current position?  Do you continuously keep an open
mind to changing positions?  How long should we stay in our positions?

I got this position through networking with recruiters. (my previous job was also through developing connection at a scientific conference). I am open for changing positions when there is a feeling of saturation or when there are no more opportunities for growth at current position. it is important to not get into comfort zone– Growth follows if we take on new challenges.  
.

- What do you believe aided you in being awarded your position?

I think having a proactive approach during job applications helped me secure current position. for example- learning how to prepare a good resume, discussing with mentors and peers about my career interests, staying in touch with recruiters and my network.

.
- Have you refused an offer that you think you should have taken?  What were the factors in your decision?

I did refuse one Postdoc offer. It is always difficult to refuse an offer that you already accepted, but when I look back, I think I made a very good decision. That time I had another offer for Applications position. Then I considered- what my priorities are, does the postdoc position offer me ample opportunities to grow my career where i would like it to be. The applications position seemed to be fulfilling those priorities, so I made decision to refuse postdoc position. Having said that, I knew this would cause inconvenience to the PI, so I remembered to acknowledge that, apologized for the inconvenience that my decision would cause  and suggested few good candidates that were suitable for the Postdoc position. 

.
- What opportunities and challenges do you see provide growth for you?

Opportunity to work on the commercial side while keeping close contact with R&D has been very helpful. 
In addition,working for sales is quite challenging. I believe, B2B sales gives lot of opportunities to grow in career. It can develop some personal skills and gives exposure that can have major impact in career.

.
- What are ways that you go out of your way to expand your network?

I attend conference meetings, try to connect secondary connections through one on one meetings etc. 
.

What comments do you wish to make for people who are graduating or planning on moving on in the next year?


My suggestion would be to keep career options open. And If you do the same thing that you are good at, it wont open new opportunities. So be open for new ideas, skills, and opportunities. 

Also, i remember that during my job application process while at graduate school, I had to take “inside-out” approach. Meaning, i had to learn how the job market is, learn how to write a resume that is specific to the job posting, what do employers expects from applicants etc - you sell what other person wants to buy. Not to sell something that you have but the other person is hardly interested in. What I mean by this is that, in resumes, graduate students often highlight their academic achievements which industry may not care about rather than looking at the job responsibilities and what is needed. ( i remember making such mistake in my first few resumes)  
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01/19/19
Professional Profiles. 2.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 11:42 am
Profile:
MSL+ Medical Science Liaison
 I have always looked ahead to what might be next-where is there a gap. That’s what will keep people employed in my opinion.
Principal Research Scientist and Technical Fellow

Professional Development Facilitator, University

- What do you say when asked about your personal style and responsibilities?
When you say “style” I immediately think of management style-I think because that’s so critical to success in a job whether you’re the manager, or you’re being managed as an individual contributor. They say people don’t quit jobs, they quit bad bosses, and in my case that’s definitely true. I stayed at a job where I wasn’t properly rewarded/recognized/compensated for many years because I had a great boss who supported me and my ideas, gave me freedom and didn’t micromanage me, and protected me from the “nasties” in the company so I could do my work without needless interruptions and political bologna. In short, I knew he had my back. That’s worth more than any amount of money. I think that understanding that everyone has a life outside of work, and certain stresses-whether they be familial, marital, health, financial, whatever-is key to being a successful manager. If you can support your employees when they need flexibility it engenders a deep sense of loyalty. And that’s part of why I stayed at that job so long!
.
Responsibilities-here what comes to mind are moral and ethical considerations when working at a large corporation. Money is the ruler of the roost. It’s not easy to stand up and shoot down a project that’s looks like an “easy win” for the business because it’s bad science or it might hurt a patient. But that’s the job of a scientist. That means there are some people who will not like you. It’s important to hold true to your moral compass when faced with bullies who are just trying to push their own agenda, collect a big fat bonus check, and be long gone before the shit ever hits the proverbial fan. Scientists and engineers tenures tend to be much longer than business partners who turn over every 2-5 years. They have a lot less to lose.
.
- Are you challenged?  What stresses you?
Challenged as in intellectually? Seldom. Interested, often. Mostly the challenging part of my work is dealing with the personalities and egos present everywhere (my own included). What stresses me out is not feeling a sense of place in a the company (not being valued) or feeling like the work isn’t valued.

.
- Describe your title, how long you have been in your role and your most enjoyable responsibilities and tasks.
Currently, MSL. About one year. Most enjoyable task is rounding with the surgeons and meeting patients who have received our therapy-there is nothing better. 

.
- How did you land your current position?  Do you continuously keep an open
mind to changing positions?  How long should we stay in our positions?
Word of mouth.

Yes.
It depends on the job, the economy and personal factors such as home life-marriage, family, ageing parents. kids in school, ability to sell a house, et cetera. You (generally) have the most freedom before you start collecting a large paycheck and take on a mortgage and family…maybe a boat or a lovely pair of horses. (LOL).
.
- What do you believe aided you in being awarded your position?
My experience and openness to move to a riskier situation.
- Have you refused an offer that you think you should have taken?  What were the factors in your decision?

Possibly-I declined an offer in Europe just out of grad school (with what was at the time Synthes, in Oberdorf Switzerland). It was a great offer but I couldn’t pull the trigger and I wasn’t sure why. Several months later my dad was diagnosed with cancer and he was dead within the year. If I had taken that job I would have missed the last months of his life. Trust your gut, even if you don’t understand it. 

- What opportunities and challenges do you see provide growth for you?
Changing to new technology platforms that are very different than what I have experience in-it changes the way you think about approaching problems and exposes you to new ways of doing things. 

Teaching and teaching others to teach-never easy. 
Service work-there are so many people who have problems we don’t know about and we may have solutions they need-it could be a great product or device to help someone. 

- What are ways that you go out of your way to expand your network?
Even when I’m tired I meet people-for lunches, or attend events they’re going to. There’s nothing as good as face time with people in your network. Keep a broad network of people older and younger than you-you can learn from both. I try to check in with people a couple of times a year and if I know they attend a specific conference plan ahead to meet up. A large network of people who you don’t know, or who don’t care about you is pretty useless in my opinion. Your network will grow over time, like a garden. If you plant too much you can’t care for any of it properly. Select and tend to relationships that you care about the most, and over time you will see the fruits of your labors. 


What comments do you wish to make for people who are graduating or planning on moving on in the next year?
Plan carefully, but once you’ve looked at all the factors don’t use your brain, use your heart. You’ll make the right decision. 



+  MSL = requires a “D” degree-so MD, PharmD or PhD. It used to be a minimum of 10 years of experience but now new grads can get these jobs. It kind of depends on the company and what they are looking to do. I honestly don’t feel super qualified to talk about MSL roles as mine is kind of odd. There is an MSL society.

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01/15/19
Professional Profiles. 1
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mature professionals, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 9:50 am

This blog entry is aimed at exposing introspection.  Asking what
are each of us are thinking and feeling.  I asked several individuals
if they would be willing to respond to a series of questions.
.

I read an article about goal setting for different personality types
recently and wish to offer an alternative vein of thought.  It starts
with WE CANNOT PREDICT THE FUTURE.  But we can learn
from experience.
.
The questions:

1. Describe your title and most enjoyable responsibilities and
tasks?

2. How did you land your current position?

3. What do you believe aided you in enhancing your candidacy?

4. What opportunities and challenges do you see to provide
growth for you?

5. What is your experience for the length of time for positions
before you see people moving on to another professional positions?

7. What are special ways in which you expand you network?

8. What comments do you wish to make for people who are
graduating or planning on moving on in the next year?

=========================
Starting with the first profile– 

Positions:  Applied Researcher, Rechargeable Batteries,
          Solar Energy, Complex Fluids for technical applications

.              Photographic Chemistry Process
Chemist, Process Safety, Scale-Up, Process Analysis

.            University Adjunct and
Professional Behaviors, Workshop & Seminar Presenter

Personal Style and Responsibilities
My chemistry career span started out with JFK’s “Let’s go to the
moon” message and it was encouraged by summer laboratory research
jobs and honors research projects before grad school.  Grad school
occurred during the Vietnam War escalation and Arab Oil Embargo gas
lines.  My early career style revolved around ‘working harder than
expected,’ experiencing many different things, and being observant for
surprises and opportunities.
.
I took in that I had to aim very high and learn from rejection.  Rejection
is not permanent.  That “No:” can often mean ‘not now.’  
.
In addition, I need to learn something more  or do something special.
So, to an observer I was an assertive, analytical go-getter who worked
through all four undergraduate years on a straight and narrow path with
purposeful objectives that evolved over my career with changing
circumstances:  family, economy, business prospects, health and longevity.
.
That personal strategy operated in a time when fellowships
were a-plenty
and research was well supported.  Economic cycles, competition from
emerging technologies and war time priorities change hiring and support.
.
Being ‘dropped’ by one firm opened my eyes to keeping options available
via professional society participation and developing other income streams
for unexpected events.

ADAPT IN MID CAREER

In my first 10 years I was an individual contributor.  I soon learned that
I needed to develop leadership,
communication, and technical breadth for
problem solving skills that employers ‘hand select’ individuals for training. 
Professional
societies and networking offered one alternate way of gaining skills.   
[Began initiatives for the company related to manufacturing efficiency
at university collaborative.  Developed and completed Six Sigma projects
as a black belt master.] 

ASK FOR HELP AND HELP OTHERS

Many times companies do not reward employees for
participating in
professional and technical societies.  Oh, they don’t [surprised?]? 
.
It was interesting that by volunteering to
support as a member-volunteer,
I learned many insider skills, met hundreds of
informative and distinguished
professionals and grew as a professional
scientist.  The more I gave, much
more
did I receive in benefits and experience.
.
The mid-career span was quite stressful with long, variable
hours, many
unexpected problems with complex causes, business challenges—take-overs,
mergers, change of managers and business objectives, and bankruptcies.
[Be thankful, express appreciation and optimism.]
.
I started interviewing for ‘other positions’ about five years
after graduate
school.  Learned thant not having the experience
and training for managing
and leadership slotted me for only entry level roles.  I perhaps stayed too long
for career  advancement purposes at my applied research positions.  That
was
my background and I did not ask for specific opportunities (Maybe I should
have.).  Staying longer in organizations does provide pensions at the end of
my life span (not a lot, but of some value.  Bankrupt company yield PPGC
insured retirement.  Otherwise, I made some poor investment decisions and
some productive ones.).

MID-CAREER DEVELOPMENTS
.
Rather than exploring permanent positions, which many of my
contemporaries chose and were successful choosing, I pursued professional
society support, participation and leadership roles in mid-career.  In one
situation, I wished to attend a conference 50 miles away
and was unable to
obtain management approval. 
I volunteered to assist workshop AV and
projection in exchange for
registration.  Soon I was offering
workshops
and offered registration, room and board compensation at meetings
around
the country, as long as I could get time off from work.
.
Another experience involved a dinner with department faculty where
they
explored offering a graduate level course. 
This led to a decade of productive
activities near the end of my career.  Dozens of former attendees, students
and
consultees have reached out for various support roles to advance their
goals.

CONCLUSIONS
.
There are few things in a technical career better than

achieving your goals.  One of them is
having your goal helping others
maximize their skills.  Another is realizing we are one of a small
group
of people  with a common thread
holding us together.   We do not know

what is in store for the future.  We can
project and guess.  There are
many people
who have freely given of themselves to me that have
made all the difference.  I want to do the same for those who follow
me.
.
Second-guessing choices:  No.  I put 110% effort into each of my 
commitments and try not to have regrets.  I have a habit of creating
back-up plans in case we need to go in a different direction.
.
Suggestions:  Volunteer for different roles and responsibilities,
especially in professional societies.
.
Study successful people and learn their habits.  Read biographies.  

Learn and adopt worthwhile habits.  Continue to develop communication
skills. in various media.       

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