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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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My time in the industry team has taught me a lot about business, events and black tie etiquette!

In March I started working on a research project aiming to find out what opportunities there were to support postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers in commercialising their research. Little did I know what I’d actually end up doing would be speaking to senior academics, attending dragons’ den style pitching events and reporting my findings to the industry and technology division council. The project snowballed and in that time I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been put out of my comfort zone. But that’s good. I’ve developed my communication skills and confidence in talking to external stakeholders. But most of all, my business knowledge has grown ALOT!

In June I organised an event for our first cohort of industrial placement students who have placements with our EnterprisePlus scheme. I’ll be the first to admit that I had little to no experience of events so this was a huge challenge for me. After organising planning meetings, catering and sending invites, the day ran smoothly and we delivered a fantastic event that received positive feedback too. This bodes well as there is never a dull moment on the grad scheme. I’m currently in the middle of planning our next event for our new cohort. And it’s even bigger!

So I’ve explained about business and events but that’s only half of what I’ve been doing. I’ve also been writing case studies and planning some of our open innovation activities. But I must say, I’ve even surprised myself with the next one…

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have attended three black tie events whilst in this rotation, the industry awards at Chemistry Means Business, the Emerging Technologies Competition and finally the Summer Party. The latter falls into another ‘grad project’ but this one seems to have had all of the benefits! The Summer Party is our annual swanky event for our members to network with each other at the summer exhibition at the Royal Academy in London.

A lucky few grads had the opportunity to entertain the guests as they queue up before the party. After months of planning our ‘water into wine’ theme and a VERY windy set up, our guests enjoyed seeing some of the work we do as an organisation (and some chemistry magic tricks)! At 8.00 we rushed into Burlington House to get changed into our dresses and ran over to the RA where we enjoyed sipping champagne, looking at some beautiful art and meeting some top names in chemistry.

A lesson for all grads of the future; expect the unexpected.

Not many can say that they have wheeled a giant cart through Piccadilly in a ball gown filled with pop-up stands on the hottest day of the year in the midst of tourists!
Jenny is a Graduate currently working in the Marketing 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 Jenny Lovell on Jul 30, 2015 2:58 PM BST

So, my time on the Graduate Scheme is drawing to an end as today I finish my third rotation in the Content Marketing team.
The past four months in the Content Marketing team have been invaluable in learning even more about the Royal Society of Chemistry and how projects arise and go from ideas to fully planned out campaigns. I have been involved with our usability testing projects, looking into how we can use video chats as well as helping with the videography for this year’s Emerging Technologies Competition.
Working on our usability testing projects and process has been really interesting as I've been able to look at new products that we are developing, such as our recently launched titration screen experiment, as well as how our current products and services could be improved. Recently I organised to do some user testing on our publishing website with a variety of students and academics down the road from us at Cambridge University. It was really interesting watching and listening how people use our publishing website and also how we might be able to develop it to provide them with a better product.
A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to attend our Emerging Technologies Competition which is an annual event organised by the Industry team. I worked alongside the videographers and a colleague in marketing to ensure that we got footage from all parts of the event as well as interviews with those that took part, from the partners to the winners. The event was bigger than last year as it not only had more categories but it was also open to entrants from all over Europe. The two day event was really interesting in itself but it was also great to work backstage shadowing more of what the Content Marketing team get up to day to day.

Our London site is in part of Burlington House adjacent to the Royal Academy of Arts and last year when I worked on the Chemistry and Art exhibition I had the chance to meet and talk with one of their curators. Recently she invited me to the opening of her Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust exhibition which was not only a lovely event and exhibition but really interesting to see some of what our courtyard neighbours are doing. I fully recommend coming along to Open House 2016 to have a look around the societies there including the Royal Society of Chemistry! 
Twice a month we have a graduate team meeting, which means we get to share with each other what we've been up to in our current rotation (and often involves cake!). Following the Cambridge Science Festival back in March we had some radish seeds leftover so decided to have what we called a 'Radish-off' which meant that over the past few months we've been trying to grow award winning radishes. I was rather pleased to win the creative title of 'Radish That Looks Most Like A Face'.
I’m leaving the Graduate Scheme to join the Membership Engagement team and with the experience I have gained over the past 16 months I feel prepared and ready for it!
I have thoroughly enjoyed the past 16 months on the scheme but I am also excited for what lies ahead.
"Once a grad, always a grad"
Geri is a Graduate currently working in the Marketing 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 Geri Kitley on Jul 14, 2015 4:10 PM BST

Half way through...

I’m uploading this post half way through my second rotation and half way through the grad-scheme. I know this is what almost all the other grads have written but seriously – where has time gone?!

Member Services has been a fantastic rotation so far.  I’ve been given the amazing (and slightly daunting!) opportunity to manage two projects – 175 Faces of Chemistry and this year’s Pay and Reward Survey.

I was looking forward to working on the 175 Faces of Chemistry project as I wanted to use telling the stories of so many inspirational chemists as a chance to improve my writing skills. I hadn’t realised how many other things would be involved in the project though! We are currently regenerating the website for the 175 project, so I’ve been heavily involved in the design and testing of the site. I can honestly say I had no idea how much work went in to producing a website and I’m so grateful to our ICT team for doing such an amazing job. We’re hoping the new website will go live in July, so watch this space! I’ve also enjoyed rediscovering my inner-geek and love of statistics by learning how to use Google Analytics. We’re using it to track the traffic to the 175 Faces of Chemistry website so that we can plan our marketing campaign for the new website and for the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 175th anniversary in February 2016.

The other project I’ve been managing is the Pay and Reward Survey, which is a survey that the Royal Society of Chemistry runs, every two years, to collect salary information about their members. We hire an external agency to run the survey for us and I was involved in selecting the agency. This was great fun as the potential agencies came to Cambridge to pitch their ideas to us and it was exactly like being a ‘dragon’ on Dragons Den (well sort of…). Since selecting the agency, I’ve been working on our marketing and communications campaign to ensure we get the highest response rate possible. This has been an excellent way to learn how to write in different styles for particular audiences and channels. I’ve also been looking into the best ways that we can present the results of the survey to our members (more stats - yay!)

Apart from these two projects, I’ve had some great opportunities to experience other aspects of the RSC. I’ve attended our Member Networks Committee meeting, written a Chemistry World article and been trained to work in our library at Burlington House. I’m really looking forward to what the rest of this rotation will bring smiley

Isobel 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 Isobel Marr on Jun 15, 2015 11:59 AM BST
Reasons primary school is awesome: aliens, bubble bath and Vikings.

Having finished my rotation with Chemistry World, I moved on to work in the RSC’s Schools and Colleges department (which actually recently converted back to its old name: Education). Here, I work on a number of smaller projects for higher education, secondary school students, teachers and – my main focus – primary school science education.

The RSC is currently expanding its primary school strategy; we want to find out what primary school teachers need to deliver better science lessons and what we can do to support them. Working with an external primary science education provider and a videographer, we’re recording a series of videos on good primary pedagogy. It’s been fun going out into primary schools to oversee the filming; I saw a bunch of 6-year-olds trying out different methods to melt an ice ball as quickly as possible to retrieve a little plastic alien trapped inside and a group of year three students making bubble bath (and both times I really had to hold back to not join them). Seeing these examples of great science teaching really showed me how important engaging children with science at this age since will pave the way for their scientific understanding and continued interest in science. We will record two more videos (one in a school in Colchester, the other up in Sunderland) before the summer break, so I’m looking forward for more exciting science lessons. The videos should be up on our Youtube channel sometime in August or September, so stay tuned for that!

I’m also working with external contractors on creating a set of ten so-called science ideas webs – primary school teaching resources that support cross-curricular teaching, meaning teaching one topic (for example the Vikings) across all subjects. Since teachers – understandably – often struggle to find a connection between these usually history- or geography-focused topics and science, the resources collate some key concepts and ideas to make some straightforward cross-curricular connections. A first science ideas web has already been made and I’m now looking forward to getting it out to teachers to collect their feedback through user testing. I’m going into schools to meet groups of teachers and also taking the science ideas web to a few primary school conferences. Those taking part in user testing will of course be paid – in RSC glow-in-the-dark pens and lanyards!  Though I’m hoping for generally positive feedback, which means teachers like the resource and find it helpful, I expect the user testing to find all the little bits and pieces that are not quite there yet – and then making them as close to perfect as possible to help teachers bring some Vikings into the science classroom.
Katrina 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 Katrina Kramer on May 27, 2015 10:34 AM BST

Where have the last few months gone?! I’m now nearly 3 months into my second rotation, in Strategic Partnerships, and almost half way through the graduate scheme!

As ever, the grad scheme has been fun, interesting and has often taken me out of my comfort zone - never a dull day! The last few months have seen me sieving soil and cutting up nappies (don’t ask!) for outreach events, researching and meeting with companies and charitable trusts for potential partnerships, trying my hand at commercial sales for our Enterprise Plus scheme, and mentoring finalists at our Chemistry World science communication competition in London. I’ve also had the chance to work more closely with the Campaigns team, producing a politics report and daily election updates. Now, for the first time in my life, I think I might actually understand British politics!

My rotation in the Strategic Partnerships team is a new challenge, but a good one. So far it has really helped me expand my knowledge of business, increase my understanding of how and why we partner with other organisations, and gain experience presenting the organisation externally. I’ve worked on several projects in this rotation and there has been a lot of variety. My main project involves producing careers booklets for Irish school students, so much of my time has been devoted to understanding the Irish education system and marvelling at the opportunities they enjoy in their curriculum-free Transition Year!  I’ve also been putting the communication skills I learned in my last rotation to good use and have written two more speeches!

Outside my rotation, I’ve been involved with outreach activities in schools and at the Cambridge Science Festival, and in February I wrote my first ever Chemistry World article. I’m also now a fully-fledged member of the RSC badminton club – I’ll be going to my first badminton club curry night in a couple of weeks.

So it’s been another great couple of months with many highlights, including a holiday to New Zealand that I managed to squeeze in back in January! I’m still enjoying life at the RSC and in Cambridge, especially as the warm weather approaches and the punts come out of hibernation...
I’m excited for the summer! 

Vicki 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 Victoria Davison on May 14, 2015 3:09 PM BST
Tea: the remedy for change. 
Hello again! Since my last blog, it seems like I’ve achieved lots and been to so many places and events. Among them I presented at our Inclusion and Diversity Committee, co-ordinated a Regional Meeting in Aberdeen, written two Chemistry World articles and went to Norway (although the last one was for a holiday)! 

I’ve been in my new rotation for just over a month now and although it was difficult to say goodbye to Member Services and 175 Faces of Chemistry, I’ve moved onwards and upwards (literally upstairs) to the Open Innovation team with a little bit of Industry on the side. It’s already been full of exciting new challenges!

One of my projects I’ll be working on over the next 6 months, amongst plenty of others, is researching entrepreneurialism in chemistry (which I have struggled to say every time I’ve said it). At the moment I’m scoping out current schemes and organisations that support entrepreneurs and start up companies within the UK in a mixture of web based research and discussions with students and universities. 

Change, adaptability and flexibility are attributes us grads are experts in. Changing from one job to a completely different job overnight, well over a weekend, is something I’ve found more difficult than I had anticipated. Not only are you faced with moving desks, getting used to multiple screens and altering your chair height, you’re working with completely different people on totally new projects. Personally, I’ve gone from a role where I’ve been project manager of a small project to someone who is supporting a much bigger task with longer term objectives. 

Luckily, we're all there to support each other when we have those horribly trivial questions we’re too embarrassed to ask. (I definitely asked how the printer worked upstairs)! 

Despite all the change, I think I’m getting the swing of it and I’m really excited to get my teeth into my new projects and learning a heap of new skills in the process. I’m also learning how to juggle my tea breaks between my old and new teams!
The sun is finally out over the science park and it will soon be time for lunch time pic-nics! 
Jenny Lovell is a graduate working 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 Jenny Lovell on Apr 16, 2015 10:11 AM BST

As Geri and Anu have mentioned, the end of February meant one thing to all the grads – time for our new rotations!

I had a brilliant 6 months in the Science team. Over the six months I developed skills in a number of different areas. I experienced project management for the first time running our Take 1… science communication video competition and learnt a lot about communications and targeting specific audiences. I had quite a few chances to improve my writing skills in this rotation including producing a Mole article for our 14-18 year old magazine. Having previously shied away from writing, I definitely feel more confident now and actually think I quite enjoy it! All the “new” grads also gained invaluable training in presentation skills. I’ve since had a number of occasions to put what we learnt into practice giving internal and external presentations on another of my projects on  electronic lab notebooks -  the opinions of physical chemists.

Anu mentioned, all the grads helped at the Cambridge science festival recently too. This was my first time doing any outreach activities. It was a really fun day but what I did realise is that children are EXHAUSTING! Good job Debbie had found us a pub close by to pop to after smiley

I’ve now moved downstairs and am spending the next six months in the Accreditation team and Membership Development. I was definitely sad to leave Science but at the same time excited for what was next. I’ll be involved with the work we do accrediting university chemistry courses and I’ve also got some membership recruitment trips in the diary. I’ve currently got trips planned to York, Newcastle, Liverpool, Norwich and Zurich and am really looking forward to meeting lots of our current members as well as potential new ones over the next six months!

Isobel Hogg is a graduate working 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 Mar 27, 2015 1:56 PM GMT

Well it’s been 2 fast paced weeks since I started in the Books Team and I have enjoyed getting to grips with how to publish a book! Books is my final rotation; I can’t believe a year has gone by already!

Leaving the Industry Team behind was hard as I had enjoyed being part of the team. I had been helping to organise the Chemistry Means Business: Industry & Technology Awards dinner ceremony in London and learnt a great deal about events management. Working across many different departments in a matrix was challenging but I enjoyed having the responsibility in managing the project. I created an online map of our Enterprise Plus companies- which is now live. The map was created to help our companies to network with each other and find potential customers or partners. 

Now I’m in Books and the team have been great- getting me up to speed with the many applications and software packages we use to publish a book. At the moment I’m looking after 6 books at various stages of production. Most books go through a review process and once approved we inform the authors or editors and contracts are signed. Authors then write the content and send us the final manuscript. The production team then take over and edit the manuscript. They then send the manuscript to type setters and then finally to the printers. The process takes 6 months from the manuscript being submitted to the hard cover copy being printed. All our recently printed copies hold pride of place on the shelf in the Books area. Some of our books are part of a subject specific series. We also have popular science books, textbooks and special periodical reports that highlight research carried out in a subject area within a certain year. Take a look at our books.

I’m also working on updating pages on our Books web pages so that they can be much more engaging for the website user. To help with this I’m getting trained in Google Analytics to help monitor the site and how it’s being used to help us create better user environments. 

Ive been working with the Book Sales Team as well. I’m researching about the books trade environment and booking appointments with distributors and book sellers at the London Books Fair- where anyone who’s anyone in Books publishing comes to.

This weekend past I helped out at the Cambridge Science Festival at the University of Cambridge’s Chemistry department. We had 5 stalls- representing our global challenges drive with various fun activities for children to learn more about how chemistry can be used to. I helped to create the Health stall with my partner Katrina. We created a Protein- Drug puzzle (out of plaster, paper mache and chicken wire!)- to help children understand the drug discovery process. The protein models were time consuming to make but I had a lot of fun creating an activity from scratch.  The whole day was a blast and was managed expertly by Debbie. All the grads and our volunteers worked very hard to get children inspired in chemistry!

The health stall- helping kids make medicines     
Helping kids make medicines at the Health stall 

Creating medicines that fit the shape of a protein's active site

An aardvark popped by to see the Chemistry Department's experiments!
Anu is a Graduate currently working in the Books 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 Anu Daniel on Mar 17, 2015 6:54 PM GMT



Two down, one to go!


So, this is my last day in the Strategic Partnerships team. When I come in on Monday it's all about making sure I remember to walk to my new desk in Marketing.

Throughout this rotation I've had the chance to develop  my writing skills and learn about communicating to a range of audiences.  I have written a brochure for one of our programmes, been involved in some grant funding applications and also tried my hand at a few more Chemistry World articles. February 2015 was the first anniversary of our Yusuf Hamied Inspirational Chemistry Programme which we launched in partnership with The Salters' Institute. To celebrate this, I was tasked with creating a brochure about the programme. One of the great parts of writing this was getting to talk to all the different people involved and hearing about what they've been doing on the project, although I didn't get to talk to Dr Hamied himself! But it was really satisfying when I got to see the end product designed and printed.


Over the last six months I have learnt so many new skills, one of the biggest for me being in commercial sales. I have been talking with a number of our Enterprise Plus members to ensure they are aware of all the benefits we provide and to help them advertise their company in Chemistry World. It's been a great way of finding out more about our Commercial Sales team.


As well as the various projects I've been working on, I've had the opportunity to attend events and go on visits to meet with partners which has been really fun. I was so pleased to be invited to the Bill Bryson Prize for Science Communication award ceremony back in October which was held down in Westminster at the House of Commons.


I’ll be sad to leave the Strategic Partnerships team but I'm really looking forward to what the final six months of the Graduate Scheme have in store for me.

Geri 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 Geri Kitley on Feb 27, 2015 2:17 PM GMT
From bench monkey to science journalist wannabe in just three simple steps!

After having spent five years as a researcher, I got the unique chance to work as a trainee with the RSC - a very exciting change! I’m currently on rotation with Chemistry World. Everyone has been friendly and welcoming from day one, amazingly helpful and supportive. Working with theChemistry World team has introduced me to a huge variety of tasks, only few of which I can describe here. It certainly never gets boring! It is also extremely rewarding having an actual physical product containing bits of my work on my desk at the start of each month – and knowing that over 50,000 members will receive the magazine, too.

One of my main tasks has been to write research news article based on scientific publication. Starting with picking ‘newsworthy’ research out of the constant flow of upcoming scientific papers, I pitch them to our news editor during our daily news meetings and, if he and the team decide them to be of interest for our audience, write them up as a short article. The articles are aimed at an audience with a general chemistry interest and knowledge (usually no need to explain chemical staples like ‘enantiomer’) but it was still challenging to ditch all that jargon that I have accumulated over the years. Most articles include direct quotes from the lead author of the publication as well as comments from an independent expert. Conducting phone interviews to get these quotes can be scary at first, but most scientist are excited to talk about their research, pointing out both advantages and disadvantages of their new discoveries and are willing to answer even my stupidest questions. 
News writing gave me the chance to peek into a huge number of different research areas, from nanotechnology to synthetic biology. In the process, I have learned a lot about writing for different formats, and how to analyse and improve my writing style, in addition of more than a handful of new words.
I have also been involved in organising the Chemistry World science communication competition. I updated the website, promoted the competition on our social media and supported the team with setting up the prize-giving event, which included budgeting, finding a keynote speaker and sending out official invites. The competition closes very soon and I’m excited to see what brilliant ideas participants come up with for this year’s topic ‘chemistry and art’.

Despite having only two months left in this rotation, I have some exciting things in the pipeline: writing a full-length feature article on the 'innovation gap' (also ominously called 'valley of death') and putting together a buyer's guide for organic chemistry textbooks. Thinking I will have to leave the Chemistry World team soon brings a little tear to my eye, even though I don't doubt that upcoming rotations will be as exciting and fascinating. I'm looking forward to learning new things and meeting new people!

Katrina 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 Katrina Kramer on Jan 5, 2015 10:01 AM GMT
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