As we mentioned here before this week saw the very first Chemistry World Jobs Live event, held in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s London home, Burlington House. The queues outside and happy faces inside seem to suggest that it was a resounding success.

Over 250 people visited on the day to meet representatives from universities, recruitment agencies and industry. If meeting potential employers wasn’t enough, delegates could opt to have their CV spring cleaned by the Royal Society of Chemistry’s careers advisors, and explored alternative career routes by getting involved with the ‘meet the experts’ panel discussion.

Speaking to attendees, the watchword was opportunities:

‘I’m finishing my PhD, writing up my thesis, so I wanted to look at what opportunities there are available for me as a PhD graduate.’

‘I’m looking for new opportunities to move my career on. I’m currently undergoing a redundancy situation that is not yet resolved, so I’m trying to look into the future a little bit and look for potential new opportunities.’

‘I’m now at the stage when I’m looking for graduate work. [I thought] this would be the perfect opportunity to come along, do a bit of networking, talk to some people. Because I’m still at the point where I don’t actually know what I want to do for a living yet!’

 ‘I’m looking for a change in emphasis in what I do. Get out of the lab; maybe get into a project management role or consultancy. I thought I’d come along and see what there is on offer.’

[Okay, that last one doesn’t actually use the word ‘opportunity’, but they were probably thinking it.]

For the twenty six exhibitors, including big names like GSK, Pfizer, AWE and AstraZeneca, it was a chance to test the waters of their future employment pool, and encourage the best to think of applying to them first. Their feedback after the event showed how they benefited from an event that outwardly is targeted at jobseekers:

‘From an exhibitor’s point of view it all went off very smoothly … The ‘standard’ of the delegates was very high and we were pleased that a significant proportion of them were what we might describe as being ‘experienced researchers’ … the day was of quite significant value to us in so far as it helped to build our profile with a number of young people who will only be applying in 2014.’

‘Thanks for putting on such a great event yesterday, I felt it was really beneficial for the business to increase its visibility.’

The ‘meet the experts’ part of the day was perhaps harder to quantify – rather than speaking directly to a potential employer, this event was a way to discuss other aspects of career progression.

‘The panel discussions were lively and well attended’ explained Bibiana Campos-Seijo, editor of Chemistry World and member of the panel. ‘The panellists had very different backgrounds and included among others representatives from Saudi Aramco, Hexcel, Royal Society of Chemistry, University of Bradford and none other than TV personality Ricky Martin, of The Apprentice and Total Wipeout fame now heading Hyper Recruitment Solutions in partnership with Lord Alan Sugar. We had an entertaining and diverse spread that reflected experiences both in academia and industry but also gave a flavour of some of the options that are available to those who wish to pursue an international career in the chemical sciences.’

The panel discussed alternative routes into chemistry careers, the value of having a PhD and the drama of facing redundancy. Bibiana noted that, in spite of the different experiences on the panel there were some common themes in the advice meted out to attendees. ‘Remain flexible – plans don’t always go as intended so be prepared to adapt and fully embrace plan B. And be opportunistic – remain resourceful and proactive, not letting opportunities pass you by.’

This approach certainly hit the mark for one attendee, who beamingly explained: ‘I was very pleasantly surprised; I’m very pleased I went. It was very inspiring to hear what they had to say … it really reinforced my enthusiasm and I thought it was very inspiring indeed.’

Chemistry World Jobs Live will return in 2014!


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