Kick Start Your Career - and how to get a job in the downturn

19 Apr 2012

Kick Start Your Career is an annual event organised by the Liverpool and North West Group to enable students of chemistry, chemical engineering and related subjects to meet successful business and industry personnel from the area and talk about careers.

This year, on 9 February 2012, it was all about how to get a job in an economic downturn, and what to put on a CV to make it stand out. Over 100 students from universities in Liverpool, Bangor, Manchester and elsewhere came to the evening event at the University of Liverpool's Chemistry Department to hear about careers in industry, teaching and further education.

A welcoming drink was followed by brief introductions from Dr Ian O'Neil (University of Liverpool), Dr Mike Pitts (UK Chemistry Innovation) and Joanne Lyall (SCI Executive Director 2010-13).

Four short, very punchy, eight-minute talks followed, all given by 'young-looking and enthusiastic' scientists and engineers who have spent a number of years in full-time jobs.

Dr Joyce Porter (chemistry teacher and lecturer) plus Andrea Mallaburn (trainer of teachers), Adam McCuddan (analytical chemist at Astra Zeneca), Dr Claire Rees (development chemist at Rockwood Additives) and Dr Mike Pitts, all explained why they chose the path they did, why they changed jobs, who they have worked for and most importantly what they have learned through their experiences of work and what advice they would give a graduate looking for a job.

The key messages are:

  • Be enthusiastic
  • Do some voluntary work to make your CV stand out
  • Industrial placements are worth their weight in gold
  • Chemists are wanted in many types of jobs, not just research
  • Investigate the company you apply to

Rather than adjourn to the bar, virtually all the students stayed behind to listen to an additional talk by Dr Caroline Cordery on how to write a CV, and how to improve your chances at an interview.

We received a lot of positive feedback from students, who found the evening really helpful, and our thanks to the speakers and industrialists who gave up their evening. One student said afterwards, 'I hadn't thought of teaching before, but this has inspired me to apply'. Another said, 'I hadn't a clue that I should put some of the things you said on my CV. I can see now why they would be useful.'

Our hope is that the students will help to maintain the north-west as the leading chemical industry centre in the UK.

We look forward to next year to see what sort of issues it brings to students. I would particularly like to thank Dr Mike Pitts and Dr Caroline Cordery for organising the event.

Dr Trevor Rhodes Chair,
Liverpool and North West Group.

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