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Ever wanted to know what we get up to on the RSC graduate scheme? In this blog, members of our graduate scheme describe some of the interesting (or unusual!) activities and projects they are working on, as well as what it is like to work in a variety of departments across the RSC.

Find out more about the RSC Graduate Scheme here

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45038df60f4130012933e9e608ac9381-huge-imIt’s been two months since I started in the Strategic Partnerships (SP) team and the time has absolutely flown by.

The SP team focus on developing collaborative relationships with external organisations. Since joining this department, I’ve been involved in several large projects. On my first day I was dropped in at the deep-end, being sent to a workshop about the RSC’s new Open Innovation platform which was attended by dozens of senior representatives from some of the world’s largest chemical companies.

A key part of my role involves researching potential future partners for a variety of RSC projects. One of the most enjoyable and informative aspects of working in SP is that you are involved in activities that span across all of our different departments. This has really helped me to develop a better understanding of how such a wide-ranging and multi-armed organisation operates as a whole.

So far I’ve been involved with sourcing and coordinating six-figure funding opportunities for projects with the Education team, I’ve learned a lot about the publishing side of the business, and I’ve also helped with arrangements for the exhibition at our Chemistry Means Business event, which has meant working with our Industry and Commercial teams.

Between these activities I’ve also written another couple of articles for Chemistry World, joined the work squash league, attended a conference on third sector fundraising, and in a couple of weeks’ time I’ll attend a major meeting of representatives from the Food and Drink industry!

Outside of work, we’ve recently had a few tantalising glimpses of the sun, so I’m looking forward to picnics, barbeques, beer-gardens and enjoying the atmosphere during a great summer of sport with Euro 2016 and the Olympics both on the horizon!
Jamie is a Graduate currently working in the Strategic Partnerships Team on the Royal Society of Chemistry's Graduate Scheme. To see if we are currently recruiting for the RSC Graduate Scheme click here
Posted by Jamie Durrani on May 17, 2016 4:23 PM BST

After a spectacular end to my time in Chemistry World I’ve moved from the hectic world of science communication to the more peaceful world of the f9e4ccc3a1c23c3b227be814b9bb9d31-huge-03
Industry team. 
My final assignment for Chemistry World was the grand final of the Chemistry World science communication competition. This was a live event where 5 science communicators fought it out by giving short talks to a public audience at the Royal Institution (home of the Christmas lectures, and where Faraday gave his lectures).

Organising the final was a bigger challenge than anything I’ve done before. Although I have a background in concert managing for choirs an event of this scale was completely new. Choirs don’t need portable Bunsen burners, or turn up carrying 13kg of mercury!
f62b7a11c5a76e9218c8f064cbe957ce-huge-imAll of the finalists gave fantastic talks that were definitely worth all the challenges of organising the event. Topics covered included chocolate (with taste testing) and spectroscopy (with coloured fireballs) but Ben Stutchbury clinched the prize by making borax mucus which he then proceeded to throw around the room, fascinating and mildly disgusting the judges and audience. Video of the event should be available soon from Chemistry World, so keep an eye out for that!
After a week in Greece with the choir to recover (think sunshine, swimming in clear turquoise seas, dolphins, shooting stars and incredible seafood) I started with the Industry team, where I’m working across a few different projects. I've taken over the project investigating how university chemistry departments in the UK and Ireland interact with businesses (started by Ellie last rotation) and I’m readying myself for some rather intense data analysis in the coming weeks as we start to work out what all of our survey data tells us.
I’m also working on a training and networking day for our next set of industrial placement students. The RSC funds for a number of small companies to take an undergraduate chemistry student to do a placement year in their company. This is win-win because the student learns a lot about companies and business as well as chemistry research, and the companies get another pair of hands to help with their work!
Outside of work, I’ve just become secretary of my choir in Cambridge, the Fairhaven Singers, because I’m a sucker and can’t say no whenever someone asks me to organise something. The grads have also found a weekly pub quiz – last night the our team came in joint first place, only to miss out in the tiebreaker round (1820’s politics is not our strong point apparently). As the summer creeps in I’m looking forward to pub beer gardens, picnics by the river and punting.  

Pip is a Graduate currently working in the Public Affairs Team on the Royal Society of Chemistry's Graduate Scheme. To see if we are currently recruiting for the RSC Graduate Scheme click here
Posted by Philippa Matthews on Apr 14, 2016 11:19 AM BST

741bbfeb6e59103ab37ddb748de52599-huge-hyAfter a very busy final three months in the Education team, I have now moved over to Public Affairs, which began with a crash course in UK politics! I have enjoyed all of my projects in Education, and it feels strange to leave it behind. Some of my highlights were organising a webinar for ChemNet, facilitating an update to our Parents’ Guide booklet, and managing our forum for teachers, Talk Chemistry. I was also tasked with project managing our involvement at the Cambridge Science Festival...

04a0a2af8cbbe82e3ada6e8b6ee0881c-huge-imWhilst very excited at the prospect of our first ‘team grad’ project, I was also a little daunted by how much there was to organise! Our theme was our 175th anniversary, where we designed ‘a journey through the history of chemistry’. We had six stands in total, but I’ll highlight a couple: one was devoted to colour chemistry, where we had a Spectroscopy in a Suitcase kit. This scheme gives students the chance to learn about spectroscopy through hands-on experience, rather than a textbook. On the polymers stand, we made bouncy balls and seaweed spheres. On our final stand, we were extracting DNA from strawberries! Luckily it wasn’t just us grads on the day – we had 23 wonderful staff volunteers that made the event a success.
The Public Affairs team are based in our London office, so I am currently sitting with the Science team in Cambridge, and I’m looking forward to doing some collaborative work with them. I visit Burlington House once a week and the rest of the time I can pick up the phone! The great thing about moving teams is that you get to know so many more people across the organisation that all have different areas of expertise, so there is always someone to direct your question to.
I didn’t have to worry about sitting at the wrong desk on my first day as I was sent straight to the Houses of Parliament, for SET for Britain 2016! This event sees early career scientists presenting their work to MPs - encouraging and promoting young scientists in this setting is really important, and all of the relevant learned societies were there to support it. I even spotted Jeremy Corbyn speaking to one of his constituents! Now I’m back in the office, I’ve written an article for RSC news, and I’ve been brushing up on my knowledge of UK politics and the upcoming EU referendum. It’s getting easier, sort of!
In other news, I’ve now written two articles for Chemistry World and I’m currently working on my first book review. Last night was the RSC Spring quiz, and the grad team did pretty well – we were only four points behind the winners. I’m now looking forward to a trip to Amsterdam over the Easter weekend and starting my warm weather triathlon training. Bring on the summer!
Flo is a Graduate currently working in the Public Affairs Team on the Royal Society of Chemistry's Graduate Scheme. To see if we are currently recruiting for the RSC Graduate Scheme click here
Posted by Florence Greatrix on Mar 24, 2016 9:57 AM GMT

After six months working in the Industry team, I’m now taking on all things related to our 175th anniversary as part of my rotation in Member Engagement and Communications.

I’m almost a week into my second rotation and already my work in the industry team feels an eternity ago! Rotating hasn’t been as strange as I thought it would be – because I’ve worked at the organisation for six months already, it’s not like starting a new job and a lot of the people I’m now working with I’ve met or worked with before. That’s one of the many brilliant things about the RSC grad scheme: you get to experience a range of completely different roles without having to move organisation.

In my last couple of months in the Industry team, I was working on a project to investigate how university chemistry departments in the UK and Ireland interact with businesses. Collaboration between academia and industry can be really beneficial to both sides and from a student perspective, can greatly increase employment prospects. The RSC is currently conducting a survey of how much collaboration currently occurs, and how effective this is, so that we can champion and further support these activities. Working on this project taught me a lot about higher education structure, funding and policy. This may sound unbelievably dull, but was actually fascinating, especially with the government looking to make some quite major changes to the current system.

I also launched the second round of our internships grant scheme (something I mentioned in my previous post). The first year of running was such a success for both the companies and the interns, so I hope the scheme continues to grow in strength! If you or anyone you know is interested in carrying out an internship in a small chemical science company, the positions will be advertised here and here around May/June time, so watch this space!

My new rotation is split between the Member Engagement and Communications team and will be mainly focused around our 175th anniversary, particularly our 175 minutes for chemistry campaign. We’re encouraging both our members and any interested members of the public to dedicate 175 minutes to chemistry, in any shape or form. This could be as simple as spending some time reading Chemistry World, getting involved in local section events or attending a local science festival.

Which leads me very nicely into what all of us grads have been spending most of the last couple of weeks doing – preparing for Cambridge Science Festival! Every year, the RSC grads run a series of activities on ‘Science Saturday’ of the festival, so we’ve been busy pulling together some simple, hands-on experiments to get people excited about chemistry. This has been a lot of fun – who knew cornflour and water could be so entertaining! – and things seem to be coming together, so keep an eye out for the next blog post to find out how it all went! 
Ellie is a Graduate currently working in the Member Engagement/Communications teams on the Royal Society of Chemistry's Graduate Scheme. To see if we are currently recruiting for the RSC Graduate Scheme, click here.
Posted by Eleanor Hall on Mar 10, 2016 4:44 PM GMT

64eb00bb8b42879cb79285f7b4cdfdb2-huge-imWow! I can’t believe it’s already been almost six months since starting on the RSC grad scheme. The end of my first rotation in the Membership team is fast approaching and so far no two days have been the same!

One of my main roles since joining the RSC in September has been to attend conferences and visit universities in order to promote RSC membership to students and academic staff. I’ve really enjoyed going to different chemistry departments and having the opportunity to travel to Ireland and parts of the UK that I’d never seen before. Working in an outward-facing role, I’ve had so much fun meeting new people who work across different areas of the scientific community.

One great aspect of the grad scheme here at the RSC is that you are really encouraged to participate in as many different projects as you can. The work has been incredibly varied – aside from visiting universities, I’ve been able to write for Chemistry World, be involved with the inspiring 175 Faces of Chemistry project, help organise RSC stands for the Cambridge Science Festival and much more. Recently, I’ve also been heavily involved with running the ChemNet website for 14–18 year olds – this has been a fantastic opportunity to develop new skills in an area I hadn’t previously had a lot of experience in.

The best thing about working at the RSC is probably the people. There are a huge number of creative and inspiring people working across all of the different sections of the organisation. There’s always plenty of fun (and cake) to be had in the office. Outside of work, the Sports and Social Club organise a range of different activities, from squash leagues and 5-a-side football, to pub quizzes and the awesome fancy-dress Christmas party. It’s absolutely amazing working in such a fun, enthusiastic and motivating environment.

Next week I’ll start my second rotation, in the Strategic Partnerships team. I’ve absolutely loved my time in membership and I can’t wait to take on the new challenges that my next role will bring.
Jamie is a Graduate currently working in the Membership Team on the Royal Society of Chemistry's Graduate Scheme. To see if we are currently recruiting for the RSC Graduate Scheme click here
Posted by Jamie Durrani on Mar 1, 2016 3:49 PM GMT
The very eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted me among these pages before, around 4 years ago when I was on what was then known as the Publishing Graduate Scheme. 

I came to the Royal Society of Chemistry through the Publishing route, knowing that I wanted a career in chemistry, but outside of the lab, and not really sure what that would look like.

After 3 years as a Publishing Editor, during which I gained lots of useful experience working with journals, I realised that I wanted to expand my understanding of what the R
SC does, meet new people, and increase my skill set. So I applied for the RSC Graduate Scheme. I’m now nearing the end of my first placement, on the Strategic Communications team, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

Over the past 6 months I have written articles for RSC News, Cohesion (our internal newsletter), Chemistry World and Chemistry International. As part of the News and Media sub-team I have coordinated a mini media campaign to promote a competition called SET for Britain, which the RSC helps sponsor, and which brings early careers researchers to present their work in Parliament. As part of the coordination of this campaign, I was lucky enough to attend a meeting in Parliament, at Portcullis House, with the media reps from the other learned societies who are also sponsoring the event.

As part of my work on the News and Media team I was asked to try and promote articles from the RSC’s journals to a non-scientific audience. This led to me sending a press release on one of our articles to The Times, and I then had to explain the science behind the article to a journalist over the phone. This was both exciting
 and nerve-wracking, and a real test of how well I knew the research! And after all that it was really gratifying to see the story appear in print a few days later.

One of my biggest projects has been coordinating communications around the RSC’s 175th Anniversary, which is taking place this year (the actual date is 23rd Feb 2016). One of our activities involves asking our members and other chemists to give 175 minutes of their time to chemistry, and we’ve been encouraging this through a Twitter campaign. In order to keep the public interested, I’ve been gathering ideas for relevant tweets, such as suggestions for science festivals for people to attend, and articles about the chemistry behind pancakes!

Like all the grads, in September and October I drove and train-journeyed up and down the country visiting universities and signing up students for RSC membership. Particularly memorable was mine and Pip’s road trip to Bangor and Liverpool. It turns out that driving in Liverpool city centre is not for the faint-hearted! T
he recruitment visits were a great way to get to know the other grads, connect with students and their lecturers, and get a better grasp of the geography of the UK!

My next rotation will be in Membership, which should mean some more recruitment visits and travel. I’ll be incredibly sad to leave the Comms team – they’ve been so incredibly welcoming and I’ve learned so much from all of them – but I’m excited about what’s to come!

Lizzy is a Graduate currently working in the Strategic Communications Team on the Royal Society of Chemistry's Graduate Scheme. To see if we are currently recruiting for the RSC Graduate Scheme click here
Posted by Elisabeth Ratcliffe on Feb 22, 2016 1:53 PM GMT

33687c3c4fff7eda2ee70c352ce466a9-huge-meThree months in! Before I ended up at the RSC I did an MChem at the University of Durham, and a year working as a knife tester in Sheffield! I’ve left the sharp objects behind and am now working for Chemistry World.

Everyone loves a list. So here are my top moments of my three months in Chemistry World. You won't believe number 6!

10 reasons to love working at the RSC

1 The canteen (particularly the cheese scones!)
2 The people
3 Cycling around Cambridge                       
4 Christmas lunch in the great hall of King’s College, Cambridge
5 The feeling when a Chemistry World article you’ve written takes off on twitter88606464a0b34996e2926f1d3802a626-huge-im
6 Meetings with 4 types of cake
7 Recording podcasts
8 Inspiring grad projects
9 Incredible grads
10 Chemistry jokes


Pip is a Graduate currently working in the Chemistry World Team on the Royal Society of Chemistry's Graduate Scheme. To see if we are currently recruiting for the RSC Graduate Scheme click here

Posted by Philippa Matthews on Jan 7, 2016 2:05 PM GMT

I’m already two months in to my first rotation on the grad scheme and I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone. Before I got here I was doing an MSc in Oceanography at the University of Southampton (no, I’m not strictly a chemist). After handing in my dissertation I only had a weekend to move my life up to Cambridge!

I was really excited when I found out my first placement would be in the Education team, and it hasn’t disappointed. I’ve been able to get involved in lots of different projects which was daunting at first, but it makes every day different! I’ve particularly enjoyed working on our online CPD courses for teachers. I am responsible for uploading the multimedia resources, and submitting the courses for internal approval. I am also looking at how we can help chemistry teachers to integrate careers guidance into their lessons, by reorganising some of the information that is on our websites, Learn Chemistry and a Future in Chemistry. I’ve also had the chance to embrace my creative side by creating some new quizzes for ChemNet, our student network for 14-18 year olds.

Outside of my placement, I jumped at the chance to help out at a recent public lecture at Burlington House, where Dr Helen Findlay from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory was talking about ocean acidification. I got to meet some of our members and chat about an important topic that I’m really passionate about (you can watch the talk here). As you can see from the picture, we were quite excited to visit the BH library for the first time!

The grads are always kept busy at the RSC. As Ellie said in the previous blog post, it’s the time of the year where we go on numerous university visits to talk to new and current members about what the RSC can offer them. Not only is this great experience of organising, presenting and talking to people, it’s fun and takes you all over the UK. On my second day, James and I travelled all the way to the University of Plymouth! I’ve also enjoyed writing profiles for the 175 Faces of Chemistry project – I loved English at school and I’m so pleased to have lots of opportunities to write. Next up is an article for Chemistry World magazine (watch this space).

I’m also the newest recruit to the RSC running club, which is helping with my motivation now the winter evenings are upon us. We have signed up for the Manchester Marathon in April (eek) and I am looking forward to some long training runs after work. I’ve also joined the Cambridge Triathlon Club, and Joanna and I have been enjoying some very scenic, very flat bike rides! 

Florence is a Graduate currently working in the Education Team on the Royal Society of Chemistry's Graduate Scheme. To see if we are currently recruiting for the RSC Graduate Scheme click here
Posted by Florence Greatrix on Nov 17, 2015 2:21 PM GMT

What I have learnt since starting the Royal Society of Chemistry graduate scheme two months ago: there is such a thing as too much cake...   

I joined the RSC in September having previously worked as a teaching assistant since finishing my degree at the University of Oxford. While moving from Oxford to Cambridge was not too much of a culture shock (they are very similar cities!) it is always quite daunting relocating somewhere new. I had nothing to worry about though – the RSC is a great place to work and the graduate scheme gives you a ready-formed friendship group, which made settling in really easy. We’ve had lots of pub trips – Cambridge is great for pubs! – and we’ve just started planning our group costume for the fancy-dress Christmas party. Cambridge is a lovely city and I’m looking forward to exploring it more.

One of the first things I have learnt is just how much the RSC does as an organisation –I am two months in and still discovering new projects and initiatives. It’s rewarding to be part of such a diverse institution and there are so many different opportunities to get involved with. We had an induction day for all new starters that gave a useful overview of how the RSC works and even better, it was held at the beautiful Burlington House in Piccadilly, London. This is where our members’ library is located, and also where a lot of our events and public lectures are held –it’s definitely worth a visit!

I’m really enjoying my first rotation in the Industry team. As someone with no background in this area, I have learnt a huge amount about the UK chemical industry – there has been a lot of new terminology (and acronyms!) to get my head around. This has been great though, as one of the things that attracted me to the graduate scheme was the opportunity to gain experience in new areas. I’m currently working on an initiative that offers grants to small chemical companies so they can employ an intern for 3 months. As a recent graduate, I know how difficult it can be to find internships in the chemical sciences, particularly in small companies, so this is a really exciting project to be part of.
As grads, we also get the chance to go on visits to universities at this time of year, promoting RSC membership to students and staff. It has been a lot of fun travelling to different parts of the country – I have been to Brighton, Huddersfield, Lincoln and Norwich –and I’ve got a lot more confidence in my presentation skills.

Another thing I’ve learnt about the RSC is that they are very passionate about cake. There is always cake of some description in the office, which is amazing, but can also really test your self-control! Thankfully there are also lots of sports clubs you can join to counter the effects – I have joined the local gym and started a yoga class since moving and the RSC also has a running club, badminton club and squash ladder, to name but a few.

Bring on the next 16 months!
Ellie is a Graduate currently working in the Industry Team on the Royal Society of Chemistry's Graduate Scheme. To see if we are currently recruiting for the RSC Graduate Scheme click here

Posted by Eleanor Hall on Nov 13, 2015 11:26 AM GMT

In my last blog post I had just started my new rotation in the Membership Development and Accreditation team. Six months have now past and I’m writing this from a very exotic location as I come to the end of the rotation and look to pastures new!

I’m currently out in Korea at the IUPAC World Chemistry Congress in Busan. There are about 3000 delegates at the conference (including quite a few Nobel Laureates) and about 116 symposia over the course of the week covering 12 areas of chemistry. I’m representing the Royal Society of Chemistry on a stand where I’ve been talking to delegates about membership (a familiar topic for me!), and also involved with book sales, promoting our journals, had meetings with recently admitted Fellows of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and much, much more! It has been a fantastic week. The highlight has been holding a members reception for almost 70 delegates where our ex-President David Phillips gave a welcome speech and attendees include the President of the Korean Chemical Society and the Brazilian Chemical Society. Having never organised an event like this before it was a really exciting challenge and I was quite nervous about how it would go and whether people would turn up. However, it went really well and everyone enjoyed the evening. The hardest part was encouraging people to leave at the end of the night!

I’ve had lots of other travel opportunities during the last six month for both Membership and Accreditation. I attended the Royal Socitey of Chemistry's ISACS16 conference in Zurich and have gone to many UK based events for membership recruitment. I’ve also been on 3 UK university accreditation visits with our committee of assessors to assess how the university seeking accreditation runs their chemistry courses. These visits have been great and really helped support work I’ve been doing to write best practice and guidance documents on accreditation, running industrial placements and teaching professional skills through a chemistry degree. Project managing and producing these documents was a really good development opportunity for me and they have all been finalised and gone to print before the end of my rotation – phew!

Outside of work, a group of 8 RSC staff found ourselves in Edinburgh at the end of May to run the Edinburgh Marathon. After many long, cold, dark and rainy runs through the winter it was exciting when the big day finally arrived. For many of us it was our first marathon and I think I speak for everyone when I say it won’t be the last!

Overall, another fantastic six months in Cambridge and at the RSC. This will be my last blog post as a grad as I’m moving over to an Education Executive role in the Education Team. I’m really excited to start my new job but as Geri said…

‘Once a grad, always a grad’

Isobel is a Graduate currently working in the Membership Development and Accreditation department on the Royal Society of Chemistry's Graduate Scheme. To see if we are currently recruiting for the RSC Graduate Scheme click here

Posted by Isobel Hogg on Aug 25, 2015 9:18 AM BST
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