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Career management is not just for students October 4, 2009

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.
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One prevailing attitude that bugs the heck out of me is that career management is something you only focus on in your undergraduate/ graduate/ postdoctoral years. I get invited to give talks at local ACS sections and they turn out to be a student=oriented event. Not that that is bad, but the theme and tone, and talks with the local ACS members organizing these events, is that career management is solely useful in that early period. These people do not realize that networking and establishing a reputation just do not happen by themselves.

If you are a couple of years or more out of grad school, you have to build a reputation and your own scientific network. You attend meeting, publish, correspond, and interact because you have to become better known than just “So-and-so’s former student”. In the period up to ten years or so after your initial educational phase, you want to develop a good enough image that you get invited to give talks at symposia, chair an occasional session at meeting, and write an occasional review article or chapter. These are accomplishments expected at that stage and are signposts of whether you are moving upward or not.

You do not get invited to do these without building both a scientific reputation and one that reflects being thorough, capable, and able to meet deadlines. Organizing committees and journal editors do not like missed schedules. Avoiding a bad reputation is probably more important than gaining a good one. This phase snowballs as the more you accomplish, thus meeting someone’s needs, you get more opportunities. These may be of even more stature, such as being on an editorial advisory board, an organizing committee, or of write a book.

Managing your career never really stops. You always have things you ought to be doing to move up more and more steps.

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