As you have likely figured out, balancing the demands of research, time in the lab, teaching, grading, friends, sleeping, and navigating your next steps in life can be difficult, but ACS wants to help. With the ACS National Meeting fast approaching, you have a chance to take advantage of the opportunities that such a large meeting presents. You will have experiences that you can bring home in order to give you the head start you need as you consider what you want the beginning of your career to look like.
You hear that you should be “networking” quite frequently, but are you taking the suggestion, and are you doing it correctly? Because the word “networking” has become a somewhat misunderstood catch phrase, I will call it “getting connected” as a more accurate representation of the goal.
“Getting connected” means that you are recognizing that everyone you encounter can be significant to your path forward. It also means that you should not expect to meet someone for the sole purpose of securing a job. Although a job is the ultimate objective for many people, it is equally important to understand how each person you meet within the chemistry context can become a valuable part of your network.
The ACS National Meeting, where there are roughly 13,000+ chemists roaming within a one-mile radius, is an example of the perfect place to take advantage of connecting with as many students and professionals as you can manage. Having so many chemists accessible is a chance for you to come prepared to introduce yourself, to ask questions, and to learn about others’ journeys through chemistry. From these interactions, you may be exposed to and intrigued by career options you had never considered, unique journeys from student to professional, and, if you do it properly, you may leave your new connection with a positive, lasting impression of your interaction that could be beneficial to your future. That said, everyone comes to the national meeting with a purpose, and while many people will be happy to talk to you, they might not have a lot of time to dedicate to a lengthy conversation. Do your best to read the situation, respect everyone’s time, and have a casual but professional conversation.
Once you leave the meeting, follow up on the introductory interactions you have had with your new connections; the face-to-face conversations you will have are just as integral as the subsequent interactions that you will continue to have beyond the meeting. Even if you do not immediately recognize how the connection might be helpful to you, be sure to exchange business cards and send a thank you e-mail. Consider the fact that your new ACS National Meeting contacts have their own networks too, and if your conversations go well, they might know just the right person with whom to connect you.
Getting connected means that you are recognizing that everyone you encounter can be significant to your path forward.
Preparing Yourself to Be the Best Professional You Can Be
Establishing connections in your field is significant to any student and professional seeking success, but doing everything you can to develop your professional skills will be another huge factor in being a competitive option for a postdoc position and in your career. You are a master of conducting research, and you know how to obtain results in the lab; however, can you sell yourself on paper? Can you really impress during an interview? Do you have the interpersonal skills that are necessary for you to thrive in a team environment in the workplace? These are all skills that you can practice and perfect, and possessing them will ensure a triumphant job search. The ACS National Meeting offers ChemIDPTM workshops to introduce you to career planning tools, as well as resumé and interview workshops to help you get there.
There are many other workshops available to guide you through the development of professional skills, so take the chance while you have it!
Communities Beyond the ACS National Meeting
ACS wants to provide programs and resources that target your needs as graduate students. Because making connections and creating community have been indicators of success, ACS is exploring the prospect of introducing ACS Graduate Student Organizations (GSOs). We are incredibly excited to discover how we can help to create community through ACS GSOs, and we look forward to finding out the ways in which ACS can support you through these structures.
If you already have a GSO on your campus, or if the idea of starting one sounds like the perfect way to create a supportive and like-minded group of chemistry individuals , ACS would like to hear from you to find out the best way for us to begin offering you additional relevant programs and resources through these communities. These structures and resources should represent you and your needs as graduate students, so for ACS to curate the best programs possible, your feedback is paramount.
ACS has programs and resources that are advantageous to you as you navigate your way through graduate school, your postdoc, and through to your career. We want to create the things that will be most useful to you as you progress through your graduate program and beyond, so please use the resources that are available to you, and reach out if there is something else we can be doing that may be beneficial to you and your future career in chemistry.