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

December 2021
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Letter Writing and Thank you notes.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 2:23 pm

After collaborating on a workshop I suggested to my
colleague that both of us contact the sponsor of
ours who recommended both of us for the role.

Within a day of the workshop I thanked AH for
suggesting me for a very positive experience in
the program.  Included in the letter were brief positive
details and a sense that I look forward to working
together in the future.
Two things of significance, one reinforces the importance
and the other the timing of writing the thank you letter 
at this time.  
Sherry Turkle’s book: Reclaiming Conversations.
In our present time, digital technology, through FB, 
Tinder,  MOOCs, texting, email tyranny and shallow
online activisim is argued to lose certain human strengths
Turkle says we have adopted new technologies to gain
control, only to feel controlled by them.
Letter writing is a lost art and there are commercial
interests advocating the positive aspects of making
an effort to relate personally to another individual.
This is just the opposite of getting fired by text
message and everyone at a dinner table texting
someone else….
Interestingly, two people attending the workshop
contacted me afterwards and thanked me for helping
them find a position starting on their career path.
Those notes made all the difference!
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Mindshift. Seven Take Home messages for continued career growth
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 1:30 pm

Barbara Oakley, part of the team delivering ‘highly attended’
MOOCs, authored  a topical book “Mindshift:  Breakthrough
Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential”
that can open up your thinking.

It left me with at least seven take home messages shared below.
1.   Learning via the Pomodoro Technique
      turn off distracting devices and sources
      focus on work for 25 minutes
      take a few minute break to rest your mind;  repeat…
2.   Cultures cling to legacies;  change is fought off.  New ideas
      form and flow with two classes:  young, unexposed people
      and people who change fields.
3.   ”Second skilling” permits you to adapt to the changing career
      environment.  Two tactics:  look to increasing and decreasing
      hiring trends;  overall picture of skill distribution and where
      are budgets decreasing and lowering of skills 
4.   ”Chunk” your learning practicing more on the areas you find
      more difficult
5.   Opportunity results from skill and luck.  Luck surfaces from
      a combination of (1) seeing problems as opportunities, (2)
      constantly upgrade and learn new skills, (3) assertively 
      be proactive.
6.   People have different learning styles.  Learn yours.  One is
      focused, another is diffuse.  You should use both, but 
      understand what works best for you.
7.   Value of selective ignorance.  You have only so much ‘cognitive
      energy’.  Be selective in what you choose.
This book is highly recommended for undecided people and
professionals in-transition.  [The review cited above provides
a thoughtful assessment.]

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Watch-Outs. 62. Security, Shortage of Skills/Positions, Trends in Technical Societies
Filed under: Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 6:30 pm

Over the last few years in graduate student self-assessments, one
of the leading values that they express is  for Security.  In a sense,
we can all relate to the desire for a secure future. 

Interestingly, very recently an accomplished scientist who was hired
by a drug discovery company CEO was publicly fired
(ie.  story in the WSJ) for not rapidly leading his team to develop
new profitable products
He had been there but 7 months
Security needs “a 21st century meaning in technical careers.”
It is the ability to look where fields and needs are moving and
proactively seek out skills preparing us to contribute and
have further development plans.

Desperation, exasperation, and despair appear in the eyes of many
STEM field graduates about what they will do for STEM JOBS.  It is
more about “minding the gap” between what is taught and practiced
in your education and training and what is needed in emerging and
growing fields. 
   Just as the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky
said ‘pay attention to where the puck is going to be, not where it
has been.‘ 

What societies do you belong to?  What local sections do you
actively participate in?  How do you decide?  What is offered and
WIIFM (what is in it for me)?  Just as the Internet has triggered
changes in marketing and sales of books, consumer items, and all manner
of knowledge sharing (MOOCS, weblogs, webinars) it is also changing
the playing field for technical societies. 

SOURCE:  Career Planning Career Mapping Tool MONSTER
Monster has put forward a forward seeking tool that might
be of value to your thinking process about managing your

However, leaving this on a computer or in a cloud file
while seeming to be current misses the urgency humans place
in face-to-face interactions. 

Plan to develop mentors, sponsors and referrals by working hard
to help others meet their goals.  Lou Adler offered salient advice
- get help in being a “perfect fit” for an opening.
- people who refer you for an opening, help themselves by helping
- know what recruiters seek when filling a position (they work for
the company), and give examples in your resume and relate stories
when you interview

is also about protecting your valuable information,
reputation and computer resources
.  In a podcast I recently listened
to I became convinced to explore ‘Krebs on Security.
- security tools
- patches

We need to “keep up with the times.”  If my university is not dedicated
to doing it, I need to find other avenues.  If my employer does not have
the funds or give me the time to do it, I have to find other avenues.
We must keep abreast of evolving needs of employers. 
EXAMPLE:  25 years ago only a few places sought HTML coders. 
Ten years later, your entry card was punched with HTML experience. 
HTML is less a key but a commodity today.  Jobs can be had with a
lower salary or for niche hiring (projects). 
Other experience with cloud computing and analytics seems a better path.

There is a “gap” between curves of skill level in what we learn and
what is needed in positions.  Peter Grey points out to independently
learn and gain experience in emerging technologies and critical ‘hard
skills’.  Gain experience and meet goals in new areas of challenge
instead of repeating previous career path efforts.  Learn from and keep
peers in your network.

Further reading from a recruiter about STEM jobs.

The debate goes on:  Is it worthwhile to belong to a technical
professional organization

The presence of the Internet and online Open Access Technical literature
might influence some segments of the professional population.
The need shifts depending upon the fields that you are involved,
your current and future needs, and your personal assessment and
how you would use the society for your advantage (WIIFM).

Some questions to help you decide about society membership:

Are you stuck where you are with little or no help out? (connections,
networking, sense for where field is moving and what is emerging,
access to leaders and hiring managers, finding solutions to problems,
finding resources and tools to solve problems)

Do you have mentors to ask about alternatives for decisions?

Do you feel that you are doing something that has already been solved
by someone else before?
  (Googling your question does not help!)

Are there situations that a group effort in advocating a cause would
be much more effective?

Some questions to help you decide about belonging to a large, broadly-
involved organization or a smaller, more cutting edge, faster moving

Do you want to be elected, volunteer for and serve in a leadership
?  (chances are better in smaller org.  or a local section)

How are you planning to continuously improve and update your
skills to be prepared for the future

How will safety and common good be served best?  Prevention
(like checklists) rather than band-aiding failing flow chart or procedures

BONUS:  It is noteworthy to point out an organization that is
reinventing itself as it sees the changing landscape in publishing.
The way they are doing it is an example to point out.

Watch-Outs. 59. MOOCs, Email changes, Posture effects of computer technology, Experiments in cloud, Virtual Unreality
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:09 pm

As is often said, the only constant is that things will change.
Several links to nonlinear Internet trends are offered in
this post. 
Regarding Massive Open Online Courses–
who seems to benefit, what is happening in traditional
‘brick institutions’ and start up companies.
Regarding attempts to improve email efficiency,
Regarding the unintended effects on people’s posture
of our Internet based society.
Regarding where the cloud is moving next.

SOURCE:  The Economist, 6-28-14, P. 20, “The digital degree
MOOCs  is upsetting previous models of higher education of
lectures, cramming and examination.  As most technical areas
of study include texts, references, laboratories, computational
resources and sophisticated equipment, there is a gap.  This is
despite the improved access the Internet provides.

This article gives an intriguing status, offering
-  MOOCs are likely good for experienced, degreed professionals
who have goals and specific outcomes in mind
-  ‘digital courses are intertwined with existing curricula…
half …at MIT take a MOOC as part of their course.’
-  a second generation of MOOC, with a MOOC Masters in
computing parallel to an on-campus course at Georgia Tech.
-  some MOOC companies are ‘pivoting’ their models, Udacity
-  all is changing; it is far from the initial idea of John Newman’s

SOURCE:  R. Feintzeig, WSJ 6-18-14, p. B7. “A company without
Email?  Not so fast.

Email usage continues to explode.  It remains preferred and widely
used to collaborate.  Yet, it is inefficient.
This article alerts to innovations to substitute some elements of
email and their early results.

SOURCE:  J. Whalen, WSJ 6-24-14, P. D1.  “Slouch at your own

Our body positions and posture are affected by sitting in front
of computers and hunching with smartphones in our hands.
These activities experts attribute give rise to a chronic
condition called Kyphosis, affecting back tightness that
many feel and even suggested a depression of mental

It feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it.

SOURCE:  E. M. Rusli, WSJ, 7-1-14, P. B4.  “Research
labs jump to cloud
There are some experiments that can be contracted,  dialed
into into robot routines and analyzed with appropriate
outputs.  This is an emerging trend, just as ’round the
clock’ experiments around the globe are used to accelerate
progress.  A couple of start up companies at various
incubators are developing routines and cataloging what
is working and their associated business models, in a
way like does for customer relations

A new book by Charles Seife hits hard at all the places
that should be scrutinized in our world of virtual people
and devices, including SEOs, photo hoaxes, dating
scams, fake news reports, discrediting personalities,
and many others.

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Statistical Correlations. Developing trends, Future of Career Management and Jobs
Filed under: Position Searching, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 11:08 am

Mayer-Schenenberger and Cukier have pointed out that
“big data” is about PREDICTIONS.  It applies computational
algorithms and mathematics to huge quantities of data,
often, “messy data,” and infers predictions.

This active trend affects traditional sampling plans and
sample distributions since, at its aim, it collects all the data
and can, as a result, provide a clearer view of the “granularity
of the data”– the sub-categories that smaller samples can

Further predictive analytics, based on correlations, detects
directions and inferences, yet does not seek causes or
test hypotheses,  as it alerts us to what is happening.

Examples include: 
-mechanical or structural failure predictions based on heat,
        vibrational, stress and sound patterns from sensors,
-hit songs and TV programs
-Amazon  services
-evaluating candidates
-data mining drug candidates

Counter to our intuition where we evoke “causality,” in which case,
as Kahneman says, our brain is too lazy to think slowly, we jump
to shortcuts.   Big data analytics provides a “reality check.”

Take the case of Louis Pasteur “curing” rabies in the nine year old
boy, Joseph Meister,  by inoculation in 1865.  Looking at the
data, on average only one in seven people bitten by rabid dogs
ever contracts rabies.  (85% chance he would survive without

ACS needs to serve its members by continuing to collect data,
but broaden its outlook on how the data can be “mined.” 
Mayer-Schonenberger and Cukier document that data is
(1) reused, after first use, (2)merged with other datasets to explore
new venues and (3)”extended”.  By extended, we use the “data exhaust.”

There is so much more ACS can do to serve its members,
just being open to new thoughts and emerging trends and not
feeling we have done it before or falling to the NiH syndrome.
(NiH = not invented here)

Where are chemical enterprise careers moving?  What skills
will be needed?                         PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS
How do we effectively help members gain advantageous skills?
What knowledge, approaches, methods and skills should be
offered to professionals?  How can it be done cost effectively?


MOOCS. 2 Request for more active ACS role.
Filed under: Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:40 am

Massively Open Online Courses have been proposed
as a way midcareer professionals can gain new and upgrade
skills to compete.  MOOCS can be used to explore how
well students are learning (analytics) and measure attempts
at doing things better.  MOOCS can bring top level teaching
and student engagement methods to many more students at
a fraction of the cost.  These and other historical anecdotes
are what are contained in a recent Scientific American piece.
Some realities seemed to be missed in the piece, including:

It is increasingly true that positions include roles and
responsibilities that are more interactional, transactional and

In the study of knowledge in a knowledge based economy,
facts have half-lives, so updating and re-learning are continuous
and required.  Arbesman

We do not have to go far.  Canada is a laboratory where MOOCs
are taking hold, because of recognized need and progressive
force alignment.  It is in the best interests of everyone.

A/B or Split testing may take a larger role in the evolution of
this innovation which is a lower cost alternative to brick and
mortar universities.  It may not be the answer for everyone.  It
is an alternative.

Societies like ACS can take a proactive role by certifying
courses for grades and degrees and

eventually offering course delivery. 

Members need to ask for this.

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Entrepreneurs. 5. VCs, Angels, Disruptive innovations
Filed under: Job Offer (Situations), Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 9:53 am

Those individuals who desire to go off on their own,
join a smaller emerging venture or split off from
an existing organization or university are part of
a group called entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs often have a different “value proposition”
than existing organizations.  Disruptive technologies,
Christensen notes, separates existing and entrpreneurial
ventures.  Their markets and customers are different
and they expect that the advantages and cultural norms
will take hold over time. 

traditional classes in universities           MOOCs
brick and mortar retailing                        Internet commerce
manned military fighters                         unmanned drones

An entrepreneur is a class of innovator who can lead,
build strong functional teams and understands how to
motivate and sell ideas.

It might be useful to explore the nature and roles of
angel investors or groups and venture capital VC organizations.
A business management view reveals SIX stages:
 - seed funding, often by angel investors [will say more]
 - start-up funding for market assessment and product
 -  early production and sales funding
 -  working capital funding for product refinement and
new market introduction
 - expansion funding
 - bridge funding to “go public”
Interestingly, certain VCs can focus on different segments,
localities and industries. The amount of help, time
frames and expectations can be different and depend on
each situation.

Angel investors take large risks of possible significant
gains, for example, 20x to 30x gain over 5- to 7 years,
in a win-lose venture.  Angel investors or  groups need
to be accredited by the SEC.  Many will seek confidential
and proprietary information as part of due diligence.
The entrepreneur must formalize and monitor
confidentiality (as non-disclosure agreements are not
the norm).

Mid-Career and Refresher MOOCS. 1
Filed under: Technicians, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 4:16 pm

Link to ONLINE Courses:



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Professional Essentials. Predicitve analytics, online publishing, collaboration
Filed under: Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 9:58 am

It is interesting that when you get asked to join
a task force or team to contribute energy,
enthusiasm, expertise and experience, you can
be advised — we can’t do that, or that has been
done before and failed, or I don’t see how your
idea fits with what we have done in the past.

It is curious.

In an ebook I am reading, Why the net matters,
the author suggests ’societies fail because they
do not change their fixed design for solving
problems…They find problems they cannot fix.’

It is a common to observe ‘going with what has
worked in the past’ or ‘going with your gut’ cultures
that is less effective than data driven design and
direction.  See for example  1    2  that use
extensions of the Internet’s long tail to obtain
better estimates of future behaviors and trends.
(And trends are not generally linear and univariant)

Chemists, scientists and engineers are generally
not trained in and they avoid marketing.  In today’s
world, marketing and market analysis and prediction
is essential.  The ACS should be applying tools like
predictive analytics
   to careers of the future and
   to training to help emerging and mid-career
members adapt to our fast changing world.

We are observing all around us, although many
are fighting the trend, the “dematerialization of
information” organized in free databases,
distributed online and involved in countless
transactions.  From postal service losses to
newspapers and magazines going out of business.

ACS needs to archive all information on line, available
to members and devise a worthy mechanism to share
data and information.  There are so many benefits
that outweigh the assignable costs.

University education in technical fields is another
example where courses can be delivered online.
See also 3 

Collaborative tools using “swarm intelligence”
and aggregater sites offer possibilities for
developing positive outcomes, like protein folding
by the ‘’ group, published in Nature in August 2010.

MOOCS: One of the ingredients to future education and maintaining/evolving our skill sets
Filed under: Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 6:44 pm

While we have all seen articles and programs about online
learning, nothing grabbed me until I listened to Diane Rehm
moderating a panel of people talking about how online
courses may fit in higher education’s future

One of the major take-aways is the concept of MOOCS.
I listened hard and near the end the panelists began describing
this concept of Massive Open Online Courses that is taking
off at universities and some private companies.  [See the
Rehm discussion page for some detail and also Coursera which
describes courses being offered this fall.] 

Now what kinds of courses are offered this way, in STEM
fields…?  This site [2] lists 500 such offerings that may be
a valid way for mid-career people to refresh or learn new
skills to help manage their careers.

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