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Jessica Reed

Finding your Pathway

Posted by Jessica Reed Nov 14, 2012

What do you want to do after you graduate? What career plans do you have? If you're like me, sometimes these questions can be quite daunting because I'm really not sure what is in store for me. I have a lot of interests and enjoy doing many different types of work, so how can I choose just one career path?


On Monday, we had the opportunity to participate in an ACS workshop entitled "Finding Your Pathway." Dr. Jodi Wesemann led our group through a series of exercises and discussions that highlighted career paths in various sectors.


First, we had to write a job objective for our ideal job. Take a moment to try this yourself. Now, reflect on your objective. Is it so specific that you appear inflexible or so broad that you appear you don't really know what you want to do? Having a clear, yet not too specific, job objective is key to start the journey of finding your pathway.


Next, we had to rank our values for a career and our strengths from a list of options. I found that I value a challenge in the workplace, balance between career and personal life, and autonomy. My strengths are leading and teaching individuals, and my lesser strengths (note that they are not "weaknesses!") are creating and managing budgets/resources. What are your values and strengths in terms of a career?


We discussed several different job sectors that chemists traditionally work within. Industry, academia, government, and self-employed markets were all highlighted. We took time to imagine ourselves working within each job sector and to envision how are strengths and values aligned with that sector. Have you thought about or imagined working in any of these job sectors?


I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were job possibilities for me in areas I had not thought about. For example, I have always envisioned myself in academia, but now I realize that I take my skills and start a consulting company to be self-employed if I so choose. It's also important to note that these pathways are not mutually exclusive, and that you can move between them to find the job that is right for you. Happy path-finding!

John came to Ames, Iowa from the very busy and bustling city of Manila, Philippines, halfway across the globe. "Anything below 70 is too cold for us," he always says. Jessica, on the other hand, hails from central Illinois, and is no stranger to cold weather. Despite all of their differences, culturally and otherwise, they found themselves sharing a common interest and passion for exploring how students learn chemistry, and what educators can do (and maybe should do) to encourage more students to take an interest in all of the chemical processes that go on in their everyday lives. They do this by trying to find new ways to measure how much students actually learn from their professors and TAs, discover patterns with which such learning occurs, and design new interventions chemistry educators can use to increase student understanding of the many chemical concepts they encounter in the classroom and laboratory.



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They are excited to represent Iowa State University and the Ames Local Section at the Summit. While participating in this year's IDSS, John and Jessica aim to share their experiences in chemical education with practitioners from the more traditional disciplines of chemistry. They also hope to impart some cool tips on how to make learning chemistry less of a bitter pill the common undergrad student must swallow, and more of an adventure that brings some new excitement into their college lives.


They need your help to make the IDSS experience a success! Have you experienced a cool program or event at your school or in your community that helped to foster interactions and friendships between international and domestic peers? Do you have an idea for  such a program or an event?  Leave a comment below and they'll discuss it at the summit. Thanks for your feedback!