On Thursday (August 18), I made my way to Drexel University's chemistry department and Prof. Daniel King, who I had previously met thanks to his many volunteer roles with the ACS. Prof. King and I spoke at length about Drexel's co-op program. This program, completed via either a four or five year track, gives students the opportunity to take classes for six months and spend the remaining six months of the year gaining work experience. Students spend time researching what companies they may want to work with; they then apply and are strongly encouraged to complete all interviews offered. Some chemistry students choose to perform research in an industrial chemistry setting; others use the time to work in a Drexel chemistry laboratory. Students can even apply for and work in a foreign country while earning a stipend. Many students find the co-op valuable in finding a job after school, both because of the process and the connections made during the experience.
I made the short walk (I was still on foot, but not officially 'running') to the University of Pennsylvania and happily connected with Prof. Neil Tomson-a recent attendee at the Cottrell Scholars Collaborative New Faculty Workshop hosted at ACS immediately prior to the run! It was great to get some feedback on the workshop before hearing about his inorganic research lab, where he works with a group of 5 graduate students, a postdoc, and an undergraduate research student. The chemistry department has a faculty 'working group' that formed to address teaching general chemistry (to consider topics like how to assess the effectiveness of teaching techniques and student learning), and the group has seminars dedicated to exploring novel teaching strategies. Prof. Tomson seems to really enjoy teaching, and likes the high expectations of teaching quality in the department.
That evening, my formal National Meeting events began. The event I was most directly responsible for coordinating occurred on Sunday. Over 30 graduate students, postdocs, and faculty members attended the Faculty and Postdoc Afternoon Networking Coffee Break. A short panel discussion featuring three faculty (one from a research-intensive university, one from a small private college, and one from a community college) was followed by an hour of networking time, where students got advice on how to start applying for faculty positions (and, more generally, life in academia). The participants were very engaged, and I hope the event continues to grow in the future. I was happy to participate in the Student Speed Networking event on Monday, where I interacted with undergraduate students and shared some advice and resources on how to make the transition to graduate school or to finding a job. ACS has some excellent resources for undergraduate and graduate students!