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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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All good things come to an end, as does my time on the RSC graduate scheme.

I’ve written the last few chapters of my time at the Royal Society of Chemistry here in the Chemistry World team. I’ve dabbled in writing science and business news stories, writing and recording podcasts, planning a feature story, running the science communication competition and project managing a team to improve the user experience of the Chemistry World website. I was also thrown into the deep end with my first press week – learning how to copyedit, proofread and produce Education in Chemistry, The Mole and Chemistry World itself.

I’m not only sad to be leaving a job, but my friends and colleagues too. I’ve spent my final few days here saying goodbye and stuffing my face full of food – pictured are the grads eating our Christmas pot luck.

Looking back at what I’ve learnt over the past 15 months, I can definitely recommend the graduate scheme to anyone wanting experience working in a non-lab-based science role. I’ve learnt so much and the employment opportunities after the graduate scheme are rife here, however I’ve decided to write a new chapter to my education by going back to undertake my natural products PhD at the university of Surrey.
But that’s not to say I won’t be leafing back through the pages of my time here – I’m leaving with some freelance science writing work, fond memories and more recipes for (vegan) baked goods than I could possibly imagine.

Farewell for now! If you want to keep in touch with my anecdotes - you can usually find them on Twitter...

Emily James was a Graduate 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 Emily James on Dec 13, 2013 10:30 AM GMT

The Strategic Innovation group is a recently established directorate, and, as the name suggests it performs a variety of interesting work.

It’s made up of the Business Development and Business Intelligence team, the Community and Customer Innovation team, the International Development team, the eScience team and the Solutions team. Over the last four months I have been based within the Business Development team, and as well as getting to know this team, I have had the opportunity to work with colleagues from across the department. For more information about the team - take a look at this blog.

Half of my role has involved using skills developed during my Communications placement, and the other half has taught me new skills. Business Development related tasks have included researching aspects of our competitors, user testing for our new platforms, and I have also been fortunate enough to be part of the project teams of two of the most interesting and exciting projects – the digital regeneration of our web presence ( – where the aim is to launch a user-friendly web presence that looks great and is easy to use - and the launch of our new Chemical Sciences Article Repository, which is the subject specific repository that allows authors, publishers and institutions to deposit Open Access papers.

In September, I was also fortunate enough to help at a workshop held at Burlington House called ‘Open Innovation and Neglected Diseases’, where as well as learning a great deal about the topic, I also learnt how events like that were organised, and I met some really interesting people.
Using my communications skills, I have helped raise awareness of a new Royal Society of Chemistry initiative called the Global Chemistry Network. As part of a project team we organised two internal staff ‘open days’ where we showcased the work that was happening as part of the Global Chemistry Network project – such as the launch of the new Chemical Sciences Article Repository, the Royal Society of Chemistry Account and Profile and the work we are doing to ‘Digitally Enhance the RSC Archive’. (We also provided ‘innovative’ cakes for attendees – delicious cakes that were made up of an unusual combination of flavours.)

As a result of sitting next to Oscar Gillespie, a Multimedia Innovation Specialist, whose work predominantly involves designing interactive and educational chemistry games, I have helped him with the Molecular Treasure Hunt game – a pirate based game where you have to cure sick pirates using specific molecules.

I have really enjoyed my time so far within the Strategic Innovation group, as it has been really interesting being involved with the initial ideas that lead to us launching new products, services and technologies for the benefit of our community.

Posted by Marie Chapman on Dec 10, 2013 9:51 AM GMT

The first two months of the graduate scheme have flown by in my rotation in Books.

As I had absolutely no previous experience of book publishing, this was an exciting place to start the scheme. It came as quite a surprise to find out I’d be in Books as this is a brand new rotation that I hadn’t heard about before. It’s been a good experience being the first graduate to work in the department, and figuring out with my very friendly line manager Leanne how to manage my work flow and how I should be getting involved in a range of different projects.

My aim for this rotation is to get involved in as many aspects of book publishing as possible from start to finish. First of all this meant a whistle stop tour of the publishing process and meeting with everyone in the team, which covers editorial, production, marketing and sales, to learn about what they do.

Since then I’ve been involved with the early stages of the publishing process, such as assessing proposals for books and sending the proposals out for review. The next stage is getting the team’s feedback on the proposals at the Books Department’s version of Dragon’s Den - at the moment I'm preparing my first pitches for the meeting next week.

The later stages of the publishing process come into play when the contributors submit their work and the book goes into production. This means finding a copy editor to read through and correct mistakes, and several rounds of proofreading. One plus of this stage is dipping into a lot of interesting books!

At the end of production the book is published and becomes available for purchase, and the marketing and sales teams (which have already started work on the book during production) really get to work. I’m looking forward to working at a book launch in January for one of our popular science titles The Science and Commerce of Whiskey, at the beautiful Burlington House. And yes, I’m told there will be a tasting session on the night!

Martha Henriques is a Graduate 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 Martha Henriques on Oct 22, 2013 10:27 AM BST

Over a month into the graduate scheme and I'm enjoying being responsible for projects at the forefront of RSC strategy.

I joined the graduate scheme at the beginning of September not as a fresh graduate but as a science teacher looking to make an impact on the wider scientific community.  My first rotation was a new one for the graduate scheme and so far I’ve loved being the guinea pig.  I am based within Membership in the Accreditation and Qualifications team; a team that focuses on accrediting university degrees and company training schemes in the UK and abroad, and awarding professional recognition to those working in the chemical sciences. 

My current projects are related to the promotion of the new professional registers for science technicians and the accreditation of more apprenticeship schemes.  These are closely linked to one of the RSC’s strategic priorities, “To cultivate skills and knowledge in the chemical sciences”, and if there’s one thing to note about the graduate scheme it is that you are given high impact projects from day one.

With the RSC based in Cambridge and London there are plenty of opportunities to be whisked down to the capital.  On day 2 I found myself in London attending a meeting with staff from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and five educational awarding bodies to discuss one of the projects I would be involved in; a daunting prospect but also an amazing opportunity to see how influential the work of the RSC can be.  On day 4 I was at Burlington House in Piccadilly for our induction day: a chance to find out about the vision and aims of the RSC, the work of its different teams, and the impact it is having globally.  And there are opportunities to travel further afield too; I have been all over the country visiting universities, colleges and even the company responsible for creating the fake chocolate in the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!

Lastly, one of the RSC’s biggest assets is the feeling of community it promotes. Staff at every level are approachable and willing to help, there is always cake to be shared, everybody is welcome to sing in the RSC choir (if that tickles your fancy) and you will often see groups of RSC employees enjoying a leisurely lunchtime stroll (or run!) around the science park.

Charlotte Still is a Graduate working in the Membership Accreditation and Qualifications 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 Charlotte Still on Oct 18, 2013 1:42 PM BST
My second rotation in Membership Services has been an enjoyable insight into our community; through working with the Diversity, Careers and Networks teams, I now have a much deeper understanding of the needs of our members and what services we provide to meet them.

Alongside producing the monthly Networks Newsletters, in this rotation I coordinated the 40th edition of the Trends in Remuneration Survey and worked on all aspects of 175 Faces of Chemistry - an exciting project that showcases diversity in the chemical sciences. I’ve written many profiles and discovered that it’s a fantastic way of learning about the work of outstanding chemists and is a true insight into their lives, career paths and diversity related issues.
I also worked on an exciting creative project in partnership with a lovely team of developers at Texavi. I’m very happy to say that my nutritional game idea was released earlier this year as a new mobile and tablet application, Elements of Nutrition! (Let me know if you can beat my top score of 1460!) I’m now continuing my work in the science games world on a new release in time for Chemistry week, better get your pirate hats at the ready for some swashbuckling fun!

Emily James 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 Emily James on Sep 17, 2013 10:15 AM BST

Marie ChapmanWith just three short days left (boohoo) in the Communications team until I start my rotation in the Strategic Innovation Group, I thought that I would share with you a brief overview of the Communications team and my highlights of the rotation.

The Communications team falls within the Communications, Policy and Campaigns directorate at the RSC. The team works closely alongside the Media and Government Affairs teams - areas that I also previously knew little about - it has been an added bonus to gain an insight into the work they do!

The work of the Communications team ranges from public outreach activities and planning the RSC’s social media strategy, to communicating with our members through RSC News and Grapevine. They also provide support to other colleagues with policy reports, speeches and brand related issues.

Therefore, as part of my rotation I was given a ‘Speechwriting 101’ lesson, and have since written several speeches for members of the leadership team and past RSC Presidents. Speechwriting is a skill unlike anything I have ever done before, and it was a chance to write in a flamboyant and exaggerated manner – something that was at first a challenge, but really fun to do!

I have also had the opportunity to work closely with the editors of RSC News, contributing to several issues of the magazine. I interviewed people for ‘Profile’ articles and researched and wrote a feature about the chemistry of space!
Public engagement has also been one of my favourite parts of the rotation. Every couple of weeks I work in our London office – which in itself is lovely and very exciting to work in London! It is also a chance to get to know our London colleagues.

Every month we put on public lectures at our Chemistry Centre, and I have volunteered at quite a few. My favourite speaker was Paolo Belluti – he is part of the team at NASA who drives the Mars Rover Curiosity.  You can catch up on all these lectures online!

From my rotation I have also gained experience in project managing – I was the project manager of a team of four responsible for organising the internal launch of our refreshed brand. Seven weeks of creative brainstorming, crazy logistics and a task list of over one hundred items resulted in the best day I have ever had at work (and four free ice creams!).


Posted by Marie Chapman on Aug 28, 2013 12:57 PM BST
I am currently just under a month away from the end of rotation number 2 and, I have to admit, I will be sad to leave the Science team.

Science was a team I had my eye on from the very start of the graduate scheme and the rotation hasn’t disappointed. I have been involved in diverse projects working in science policy, event and competition management and promotion, and on a large scale campaign lobbying Government to increase and protect science funding.
Writing summaries for some of our excellent policy reports in areas like Human Health and Disease, and Solar fuels and Artificial Photosynthesis, gave me a valuable insight into science policy writing. The project required me to look at each report in-depth and work with the report authors which also gave me a greater understanding of some extremely interesting and globally important science and research.
Real responsibility has also been a recurring theme: as part of the Chemistry: We Mean Business campaign to influence Government’s decisions on science funding, I have been a core project team member responsible for co-ordinating the team in all work streams. Last month I met with a Labour MP and BIS Select Committee member to convince her of the value of our campaign and discuss other work the RSC does that was of interest to her. Most recently I took the lead in producing an infographic to promote the campaign in ModernGov magazine, a publication for director-level decision-makers across Government and the public sector (so no pressure!).
I am also working on our Take 1…minute for chemistry in health video competition, that challenged young researchers to explain how chemical scientists can tackle global challenges in human health to the public. I worked on the initial project set up and then the promotion of the competition during the entry stage, learning a lot about social media and other marketing tools. I have since taken ownership of the promotion for the RSC Organic Division Poster Symposium  using the knowledge I gained from the competition, as well as learning about trackable links and Google Analytics to monitor the efficacy of your promotional tools.
Now, for Take 1…, we are waiting for the judges to shortlist the top 5 videos before the voting gets under way so watch this space and the website to vote for your favourite!
Posted by Holly Salisbury on Aug 9, 2013 12:18 PM BST

On Tuesday evening, we were part of a fantastic event; the annual Royal Society of Chemistry's Summer Party, held at the Royal Academy of Arts in London

Equipped with essential oils, the Queen’s perfume, Adamas, and a ‘danger pot’ containing the vile smelling butanoic acid (think fish mixed with vomit and an added dollop of disgusting), we were ready to entertain guests prior to their entry to the Royal Academy of Arts with an activity named Chemistry makes scents. Those who were brave enough to take part had a chance of winning a bottle of Champagne and a bouquet of flowers.

Guests were asked to smell the contents of the pots and match up the molecule that contributes to each smell to their corresponding molymod molecular structure – adding an element of chemistry to the whole affair. We had a lot of guests taking part in the activity, and they really enjoyed it. That was despite gusts of wind threatening to overturn the table, and having to take strict control of the Queen’s perfume or risk ending up in the Tower (when donating the perfume to the Queen the RSC promised that no one would wear the perfume but her)!

After finishing work, we quickly changed into our ball gowns, and had the opportunity to browse the Summer Exhibition, eat delicious food and socialise with RSC members and distinguished guests.

It was truly a night to remember!

Top photo: RSC Grads (from left to right: Rachel, Emily, Jenny, Marie and Jon) with External Promotions Manager   Pauline outside the Royal Academy of Arts

Bottom photo: To the ball we go! (From left to right: Rachel, Jon, Emily, Marie and Jen.)



Posted by Marie Chapman on Jul 25, 2013 2:49 PM BST

Nearly five months into my time as an RSC graduate and I am thoroughly enjoying my time working in the Strategic & Commercial Partnerships team.

I joined the Royal Society of Chemistry at the beginning of March, with my first rotation in an area of which I had relatively little prior knowledge. On day one, I was thrown straight into the deep- end by attending a team planning day; a brilliant chance to meet all of those that I would be working closely with over the next six months.

From managing a breakfast event for a number of trusts & foundations to writing application proposals for funding, my day-to-day work has thus far been very varied and very satisfying. The RSC expects graduates that are hired to undertake ‘real’ work with ‘real’ implications and although this can initially feel overwhelming, team- members, fellow-graduates and just about everyone else in the organisation are always willing to help!

Away from my team, there has been ample opportunity to get involved in many other events and learn more about the great work that is carried out by my colleagues. For example, I have volunteered for a number of our Public Lectures held at the Chemistry Centre in Burlington House, worked at our fantastic Meet the Universities event and written a book review to be printed in our monthly magazine Chemistry World.

Cambridge is a city with which I was fairly unfamiliar prior to applying to the RSC but I have settled in brilliantly, thanks in no small part to the active Sports and Social Club. I have joined the squash ladder and also play football regularly. Not long ago, I had my first ever attempts at both bouldering (something that my arms were feeling for the following week) and sushi- making, and next week I am looking forward to taking on some of my fellow colleagues at go-karting!

Jonathan Wells is a Graduate currently working in the Strategic and Commercial 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 Jonathan Wells on Jul 18, 2013 2:53 PM BST

From plotting pictures of cows on a Google map, to writing the facts about nanomaterials, to organising events at the Chemistry Centre, my first few months on the grad scheme have been incredibly varied.

My first rotation is in the Higher Education, Industry and Regulations department (each rotation is six months). The graduate scheme gets you involved in as many areas of your rotation as possible – so I’ve found out about the RSC’s work with SMEs (small and medium enterprises), displayed data and highlighted trends in higher education, recently enjoyed the RSC’s Emerging Technologies competition final, and the list goes on…
My newest project is more involved with the regulations side. I’ve started writing one of the “why do we worry about ” notes on the website, designed to inform non-science specialists about potentially concerning topics that often appear in the media. Aside from being a fascinating subject in itself, I’m also enjoying the genre-change, having recently been plotting lots of graphs for Higher Education presentations. The variety is one of the highlights of the job.
There’s also the opportunity to find out about other departments. Graduates meet up every week to discuss what we’ve been working on over tea and cake. This has been a great way to find out more about the rest of the organisation, and make links between other’s projects and your own. We also meet up for lunch with the publishing graduates regularly. The RSC-wide sports and social club provides a way to get to know others in the organisation, and learn skills from sushi making to squash (although after nearly four months at the RSC, my squash ability is sadly still minimal!)
I’m looking forward to seeing what the next few months of this rotation will bring. I joined after uni (grads can join at any time – it’s fine to have worked in-between), and would thoroughly recommend the scheme for anyone looking to explore different career areas in the chemical sciences. (And, if you were still wondering, the cows were on a Google map of locations of agricultural chemistry-based SMEs).

Jenifer is a Graduate currently working in the Higher Education, Industry and Regulations 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 Jenifer Mizen on Jul 1, 2013 4:06 PM BST
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