Chemistry Careers – more than just research

A bit of a different post for me…

On Wednesday 14th November the Yorkshire and Humber regional group of the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) hosted a careers options seminar at the University of York. The aim of the session was to show undergrads, postgrads and postdocs that there is a range of research and non-research careers paths that they can take, both in and out of the lab. As their newest communications officer, I thought I would share a summary of the evening with you ahead of the next session for the Uni of Leeds students and postdocs (message me for more info).

Matthew Thornton talked about his career in Knowledge Transfer. Not surprisingly, no one in the audience had even heard of knowledge transfer as a career option but Matthew explained it very well. Matthew has a degree in chemical engineering and a PhD in materials science. He showed that there are great opportunities to meet interesting people (e.g. Duke of Edinburgh) and to travel to many countries in his job. He gets to work with a wide variety of people from industry, academia and government.

Gareth Ensor works in process development and scale up at Astra Zeneca. He demonstrated, in his talk, that it is possible to have a great career in research without having a PhD. Gareth talked about the importance of the development of transferable skills such as acting decisively, strategic thinking and working collaboratively. He also showed pros and cons of his career, highlighting the learning that comes from scale up of processes.

Dan Woolaston is a trainee patent lawyer. He had a very entertaining talk on the intellectual challenge of patent law, and variety of work, switching from cutting edge science to lone inventors with simple ideas like bike locks. He described the required skills as excellent communication skills and the ability to understand the science behind the inventor’s idea quickly. He said the downside was the number (8+) of exams required.

Finally, Jason Lynham gave a talk on his academic career. He talked of the pleasure of working in something you really enjoy and the travel opportunities and collaborations abroad. He also described the pressure of constantly having to find funding, and the highs and lows of getting papers and funding bids accepted or rejected.

The turnout and feedback from the session was really good, let’s hope the one at Leeds is just as successful!

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