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ACS Career Days program brings career resources to the community

Society hosts professional development events in cities across the US

by Linda Wang
February 22, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 8


This is a photo of a group of people attending an ACS Career Day in Washington, DC.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
Attendees listen to a talk by Samina Azad on how to land an interview.

On Saturday, Feb. 8, nearly 100 chemistry professionals gathered at a hotel in Washington, DC, to participate in career workshops, meet with career consultants, and network with one another. They were there for ACS Career Day, one of seven such professional development events that the American Chemical Society is hosting this year in Washington, DC; Houston; Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; Chicago; Seattle; and Saint Louis.

Upcoming Career Days

March 7: Houston

April 25: Atlanta

May 28: Columbus, Ohio

June 20: Chicago

July 11: Seattle

Sept. 12: Saint Louis

The society launched ACS Career Days in 2018 to bring ACS career resources to the local community. There were five events that first year. “We know a large number of our members don’t get to national meetings, and that’s primarily where we’ve concentrated our career services,” said Mark O’Brien, who oversees career services at ACS. “We wanted to bring the same programming that we deliver at the national meetings to the local sections and provide job seekers with services and support that are relevant to them in their communities.”

The daylong events are presented by ACS’s Career Navigator LIVE! and are free to the public. The presentations, workshops, and networking activities are open to all participants. One-on-one sessions with an ACS career consultant are available to ACS members and those who join ACS on-site. Recruiters are also on-site to provide information on job openings at their companies and organizations.

During the event in Washington, DC, ACS Career Pathways facilitator Samina Azad presented tips on how to get an interview and how to negotiate a job offer. O’Brien spoke about the various resources ACS offers for job seekers. And Allison Aldridge of the US Food and Drug Administration talked about how to get a job with the federal government. Attendees also participated in a Q&A session with recruiters, who shared tips on how to get noticed.

Kimberly Buffington, a human resources specialist with the US Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing, was among the recruiters who attended the event. She said she hoped to make chemists aware of the various opportunities to work for the Department of the Treasury. “We have an agency in Washington, DC, so we’re hoping to get some local talent,” she said. “A lot of people don’t even know we’re out there.”

Job seekers ranged from undergraduate and graduate students to chemists who are retired. Bridget Moll, an undergraduate chemistry major at George Mason University who was attending her first ACS Career Day, said she wanted to find out what types of jobs are available for someone with a chemistry degree. Moll spent a few years working in accounting before realizing that her passion was in chemistry, so she recently went back to school for her degree. She plans to get a master’s degree in chemistry. “Switching careers, I don’t know how to get my foot in the door.”

Chris Onyeso, who retired last June after 28 years in the petrochemical industry, is starting a new consulting business and wanted to connect with people who could give him insights into self-employment. “I’m here to get an idea of how to carry out a consulting business,” he said. “Hopefully I will meet someone who is a consultant so they can share the experience with me.”

Among the most valuable aspects of the day is the opportunity to network with one another, said Moji Bonakdar, an ACS Career Pathways facilitator who gave a talk on how to get started with networking. “There are many hidden jobs,” he says, and networking will give you access to those opportunities.

The ACS Career Day also gave attendees an opportunity to connect with the local section and learn about ways they can get involved. Corina McClure, chair of the Younger Chemists Committee for the Chemical Society of Washington, spoke about her experience finding a job at the FDA through the connections she made in her local section. “If it weren’t for networking within my local section, I wouldn’t be at the job that I’m at now,” she said.

For more information on ACS Career Days or to register for an upcoming event, visit


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