The COVID-19 pandemic poses challenges for public health and economies, locally and globally. A recent survey of American Chemical Society members shows that while many of us are concerned about the economy, few respondents expressed a fear of losing their own position in the 12 months after the survey. As we and our communities cope with the challenges of the pandemic and recovery, many among us will experience disruptions in our jobs and careers. Regardless of our education, background, years of experience, or geographic location, we should all be taking steps to become more resilient.
A key component of developing resilience in our careers is making sure that we continue to grow by keeping up with advancements in our industry and field and learning new skills beyond what is required by our current position.
Too often, we find ourselves taking a long break from active career planning. While our employers may offer help and guidance, we each should actively manage and plan for how we want our careers to develop. While it is best to start managing your career while still a student, there is no wrong time to start.
As an important partner in all stages of your career, ACS provides an array of resources to help its members develop greater resilience throughout their careers. The Committee on Economic and Professional Affairs (CEPA) works to support the careers of ACS members and more broadly those in the chemistry profession.
Your ACS local section is also a great place to find resources and to start volunteering and growing your network by sharing your expertise and augmenting your leadership skills. An important part of networking is actively helping those in your network. Members volunteering and collaborating are key elements of what makes ACS work and provide value to our profession in chemistry and related fields.
The ACS Career Services website (www.acs.org/careers) is a good place to start learning about the various career-related resources that ACS offers. Here is just a selection:
▸ Career consultants: This members-only, free, and confidential service provides expert help by email, phone, or videoconference with résumé preparation, job search strategies, interviewing techniques, career transitions, salary negotiation techniques, and valuable networking opportunities.
▸ ACS Career Pathways: This career navigator tool explains the differences between industry, academia, government, and self-employment, with profiles of chemists in various careers.
▸ ACS Salary Calculator: This members-only tool helps you determine what your skills are worth in the open market. This valuable tool looks at the many factors that make up what your experience and skills are worth to an employer on the basis of experience, area of work (pharmaceuticals, bulk chemical manufacturing, etc.), geographic location, and size of company or institution. This tool can be especially helpful during salary negotiations.
▸ Webinars: ACS has many webinars that cover topics including professional development, job search, and even career issues during a pandemic. Webinars include “Navigating Your Chemistry Career in a COVID-19 World,” “Seven Habits of Highly Resilient People,” and “Making a Big Career Change: Turning Adversity into Opportunity.”
▸ Career Days: These events started as in-person Career Days with ACS local sections. ACS moved to virtual Career Days this year because of the pandemic. These professional development events include workshops and networking opportunities for chemistry professionals at all stages of their career. Be on the lookout for upcoming career day events.
▸ Virtual Office Hours: These weekly events at noon (ET) every Thursday are hosted by ACS career consultants. These are great opportunities to network and learn from the group as well as to ask your own career-related questions.
▸ ACS Industry Matters newsletter: This newsletter covers information and advice to help chemical professionals thrive in their workplaces. Features include Career Corner, Spotlight on Early Career Chemists, and ACS Boss Talk.
▸ Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN): This weekly magazine is an excellent source for what is going on in the field of chemistry. C&EN also publishes C&ENjobs, a searchable database of job ads.
▸ ACS local sections: Your local section is a great place to network with other professionals in your area. This year, many local sections have been hosting virtual events, and some local sections are allowing members outside their section to participate.
▸ ACS technical divisions: These offer news and resources for your area of chemistry, and some also provide career resources.
This list is just a start. We welcome your ideas and feedback. What can ACS and CEPA do to help you make your career more resilient? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.