ACS & YOU
Charting Your Path to Success
BY ERIC STEWART
One of the most interesting and important topics involving chemistry is rarely taught in universities and colleges. Even when it is addressed, it’s seldom given anywhere
near the amount of time and attention it deserves, according
to many experts. What is this mysterious topic? It’s your own
career — and the many related choices and decisions facing you.
It’s easy to understand why the topic doesn’t get more attention. After all, you have that inorganic synthesis to master, not to
mention that midterm to study for… so why not focus on what
you’re being tested and graded on, and let that whole career thing
work itself out later?
The answer is that now is the ideal time to start planning your
career, because it’s still fairly easy for you to take steps that will
later help you find the type of work that is the best, most rewarding, match for you.
A new way to prepare
Fortunately, ACS is offering a new series of workshops— ACS
Career Pathways— specifically designed to help you get off to a
good start. Jointly developed and offered by ACS Careers and ACS
Education, these workshops are offered for free to ACS members at
national and regional meetings around the country.
ACS Career Pathways begins with a half-day workshop called
Finding Your Path, where you can learn about your various career
options, and also assess your values, interests, and goals in order to
see which type of career is the best fit. Following this introductory
workshop, you can choose from four workshops focusing on academic, government, industry, and entrepreneurial career pathways.
The third phase of the program focuses on giving you the skills you
need to ace your next interview — and begin your new career!
Carrying on a tradition
ACS Career Pathways workshops continue a long tradition of
the Society helping members find careers that best match their
strengths and needs. According to David Harwell, assistant director
for career management and development at ACS, “The Society has
been helping new graduates discover career options in chemistry
for almost 80 years. We’ve worked hard to keep up with changing
trends, and the Career Pathways workshops take it to a new level.”
Created in response to feedback from chemists at every step
along the career path, the ACS Career Pathways workshops rep-
resent a significant expansion of the career planning resources
offered by ACS. For many years, career workshops mainly
focused on jobs in industry, since that was where most chem-
ists tended to work.
In contrast, ACS Career Pathways workshops have expanded
their scope beyond industry careers to also provide insights for
people who are considering working in higher education or government, or going into business for themselves. Another important
way the Career Pathways workshops are different, observes Lisa
Balbes, chair of the ACS Committee on Economic and Professional
Affairs, is their focus on helping participants assess their values,
strengths, and interests, and find the employment sector that is
the best match.
In short, ACS Career Pathways workshops are your opportunity to learn something you almost certainly won’t learn in
school: an inventory of your own interests and values, and how
they line up with your career choices. You’ll also acquire the job-seeking skills, tools, and processes that you will carry with you
throughout your career — resources that truly put you in charge
of your career.
Balbes, who helped develop the new workshop format and now
volunteers as a Career Pathways workshop leader, notes that
early in the Finding Your Path workshop, participants are asked to
identify their career objectives. Later, they use a custom-developed
survey to rank a list of values according to how important they personally find them.
www.acs.org/undergrad • inChemistry