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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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 I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas – it feels like I only just started!

I honestly can’t quite believe that I have been at the Royal Society of Chemistry for almost four months now. It has completely flown by. I started my first rotation in September in the Strategic Innovation Group, working on one of the organisation’s newest projects  – Open Innovation. On my first day, in a meeting with my manager, I embarrassingly had to ask ‘Erm…..sorry…..but what is Open Innovation?!’. Luckily, I was told it wasn’t a stupid question: Open Innovation is all about getting industry (both large companies and small businesses) and academia to work together more collaboratively. It is something the Royal Society of Chemistry is very keen to promote and, being the world’s leading chemical community, we feel we are perfectly positioned to help with this.

As it is a new endeavour for the Royal Society of Chemistry, my role has involved doing quite a lot of research into other open innovation companies, to see who are competitors are and where partnership opportunities might exist. This has included a mixture of web-based research as well as actually speaking to some of these companies. I’ve also been talking to some of the largest chemical companies in the world to better understand their ‘open innovation needs’ and work out how the Royal Society of Chemistry might best be able to help. I’ve loved this project because I can see that work I’ve been doing is really valued and that the things I’ve found out over the course of my research will be used to implement exciting new initiatives within the organisation.

I’ve also been involved in organising workshops and conferences for some of our pilot projects in Open Innovation. I helped to organise a neglected diseases conference which took place in Brazil in November. This was a fantastic opportunity to work with some of our international partners such as the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative and The Medicines for Malaria Venture, as well as getting work closely with our office in Brazil. I also organised a workshop which took place at our London Office, Burlington House. I think this is one of the things I’m most proud of as I was responsible for absolutely everything – right from inviting the speakers to making the menu choices!

In December I learned that the organisation celebrates Christmas in a big way! First, there was the Sports and Social Club’s Fancy Dress Christmas Party. The theme was ‘Night at the Movies’ so all the grads went as the cast of Alice in Wonderland. As you can probably tell from the picture, we decided to go all out. Next, was the All Staff Christmas Lunch, held at Churchhill College, and involving a lot of Christmas jumpers and a LOT of food. Then there was our team Christmas lunch, followed the next day by our grad Christmas lunch.

It’s been an absolutely fantastic four months at the RSC. I’ve learned so much and enjoyed every minute of it. I’m certainly ready for a rest now though…..Merry Christmas everyone!!

Isobel is a Graduate currently working in the Strategic Innovation Group 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 Dec 23, 2014 10:12 AM GMT

10,000 Christmas cards, three speeches, four recruitment visits and four video edits down…I’m half way through my rotation in Strategic Communications and enjoying every minute of it!

When I started working at the Royal Society of Chemistry in September, with Isobel and Jenny, I was greeted by many smiling faces, lots of enthusiasm and mountains of cake…and things are pretty much the same three months in!

My first rotation in Strategic Communications has been a fantastic one to start with. The team helps staff all over the organisation to communicate effectively. They are involved with everything from managing our social media strategy and updating members through RSC News and Grapevine, to supporting staff with writing reports, speeches and press releases, and choosing the most appropriate communications channel for their message.

As well as joining a really friendly and welcoming team, I’ve gained an overview of the various projects that our organisation is involved in, re-discovered my love for writing, and learned a lot about communicating clearly using various media. I’ve written three speeches for our past and current Presidents, edited videos for the General Assembly (the annual event for our most active members) and worked closely with staff from all over the organisation, even in our India office, to commission, edit and create articles for RSC News and our staff newsletter, Cohesion. I even got into the festive spirit early this year by helping to organise and produce our Christmas cards.

Alongside my projects in Strategic Communications, I’ve had the chance to travel to universities on recruitment visits to talk to students about the benefits of our membership, and to meet some of our existing members. I’ve also found that there’s plenty to do at the RSC outside the working day. I’ve joined the badminton club, had my first taste of a Cambridge show when I went to see one of our past graduates in a recent production, and later this week I will be joining the other graduates in a fancy dress theme at our Christmas party!

So far the graduate scheme has been a great experience - one of the things I’m enjoying the most is the opportunity to take on projects, big or small, that have a real impact on the work of the organisation. I’m looking forward to what the next 15 months will bring!
Vicki 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 Victoria Davison on Dec 2, 2014 4:41 PM GMT

As a new face at the RSC, this is my first ever grad blog! I’ve already been to our offices at Burlington House in London, on recruitment visits, interviews, and even to a photography shoot.

Two months ago I had my first day at the RSC, like Isobel, in the Member Services team. Slightly overwhelmed by the prospect of managing our 175 Faces of Chemistry project, I was wondering how I was ever going to sit at my desk for a whole day! Previously working in industry, I thought it would be hard to shake off my lab roots and I’d miss the occasional reflux, NMR and Suzuki reaction but I’ve enjoyed every single minute.

Not only have I had the pleasure to meet and write profiles for inspirational chemists (including my old lecturer, a textbook writer and jungle outreach worker to name but a few) but I’ve also attended the 20th anniversary CamAWISE event. Our past president Lesley Yellowlees talked about women in Chemistry as well as speakers from other STEM organisations. It was my first networking event and albeit scary at first, I found my inner confidence got into some fascinating discussions.

As part of the Graduate Scheme, I’ve also been involved on university recruitment visits to UEA, Liverpool and Bangor. Battling through the London underground with a pop up stand, a bag of lab goggles and a suitcase was certainly an unforgettable experience. The best thing was talking to students about how we can help with their studies and career opportunities through our membership.

Recently, I’ve started working on ChemNet, our online platform for 14 -18 year olds. Knowing nothing about HTML, coding or anything website related, I was over the moon when I was finally able to upload an event to the events page. I think I’ve got a long way before I’m a fully-fledged ChemNet user but I’m enjoying getting involved with the education side of the RSC. As of last week, I was also trained as a Librarian at Burlington House (and yes it does remind me of the library in Beauty and the Beast!)

Within the next few months, I’m getting stuck in with 175 Faces of Chemistry, working on some exciting up and coming competitions for ChemNet as well as a group Grad Christmas Party fancy dress theme in my spare time! Watch this space; over and out.

Jenny is a Graduate currently working in the Member ServicesTeam 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 Nov 7, 2014 11:11 AM GMT

Two months in and looking forward to the next sixteen!

 I’ve been at the Royal Society of Chemistry for about two months now and I’m really enjoying my first placement in the Science team. Between graduating and joining the RSC Graduate Trainee scheme, I’d spent two years working in Japan and one year working for an insurance company in the city. I was really excited when I found out I’d be working in science again and was looking forward to the new challenges I would face!

The Science team organise and support a broad range of activities to support the chemical science research community in sharing, creating and applying knowledge. The team is divided up into nine scientific divisions and I’m working on a number of different projects within a few of these divisions. I’m currently getting ready to launch a video competition aimed at highlighting the role of chemistry in addressing the global challenges faced in human health. I’ve also been getting a lot of experience of conducting telephone interviews for an exciting project I’m leading which is looking into the needs of physical chemists in electronic lab notebooks.

Like Geri, I’ve also had my share of university recruitment visits alongside my day to day work. It’s been great fun speaking with new and current members about all the benefits of membership at the RSC and the visits have been a really good way to brush up on my presentation skills as well as an opportunity to explore a few cities in the UK.

Since joining the RSC, I’ve found that there are loads of opportunities to get involved with things outside of the projects I work on. There are regular ‘Lunch and Learn’ events where different teams in the organisation give a talk at lunchtime about the work they do. I’ve also really enjoyed being in the squash ladder and found it has been a great way to meet staff from different parts of the organisation. Outside of work I’ve joined the Cambridge and Coleridge Athletic Club and have also started climbing with a few others from the RSC.

I’d only visited Cambridge once before I accepted the place on the graduate scheme (and that was for the assessment day!) and so I was a little apprehensive about leaving the hustle and bustle of London. However, since my first few days in Cambridge and on the graduate scheme I can honestly say that I’ve been in no doubt that I made the right decision and I’m really excited about what lies ahead!

Isobel is a Graduate currently working in the Science 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 Hogg on Oct 30, 2014 12:06 PM GMT

Like the other graduates it has been all change in the past couple of months. We have welcomed fresh-faced new graduates and moved on to new rotations!
Last time you heard from me I had just finished organising, curating and putting into action our Chemistry and Art exhibition as part of my Schools and Colleges rotation. Well, as I said that's been all change since the start of September when I moved into the Strategic Partnerships team and have been busy with researching various chemical companies, partners and foundations as well as looking for venues to hold a dinner reception. A couple of weeks ago I was able to attend an event at BP in Hull where we presented them with a Royal Society of Chemistry Chemical Landmark recognising their 100 years at Saltend Chemicals Park.
Despite moving into a different department, I actually got to continue the work I was doing for our contribution to this years' Open House London which took place on 20th September and was a huge success. We welcomed 1,600 members of the public through our doors to look at the architecture and learn about the history of Burlington House and The Royal Society of Chemistry. We couldn't have done the day without the wonderful team of volunteer staff we had who you can see smiling after a long day in the picture below.
It is also the time of year where we visit universities to promote our membership and like the other graduates I too have been off to various locations, near and far. So far this has been to the University of East Anglia and the University of Southampton and in a couple of weeks I will be off to the University of Keele too. It's been a great experience going and meeting our members, especially being able to promote just how much we offer to members, as well as (very) briefly visiting cities I haven't been to before.
Coming up…I'm really looking forward to attending the Bill Bryson Science Prize awards ceremony of 2014 in London later this month. Not only am I excited at the prospect of meeting Bill Bryson, but also the school students whose entries were awarded a prize as I feel they made such a great contribution to the Chemistry and Art exhibition earlier this year.

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 Oct 15, 2014 11:12 AM BST
Things have changed a lot since my last blog! I finished my 1st rotation in the Strategic Partnerships (SP) Team and moved into my second rotation in Industry.
My last few months in SP were spent working on a number of projects, including the webpages that detailed our partnerships. I authored and helped to produce the SP webpages- about our partnerships past and present.
The new webpages look much more engaging and it really helped to improve my web writing skills (and grammar!).
I also investigated the Food and Drinks Industry to find the top companies within that sector who are involved in Corporate Social Responsibility projects and environmental sustainability.
Based on research, I compiled company profiles which the team use to find companies we could potentially partner with.
It was insightful learning about where our food comes from as well as how chemists working in research and quality control influence everything from chocolate bars and chewing gum to healthier cooking ingredients.
I enjoyed SP and highlights were attending our charitable events and meeting Strategic Partners such as INEOS and the Wilkinson Charitable Trust. I learnt a lot from observing the team and the 6 month really increased my commercial awareness of the industry and larger companies.
All the graduates gave an end of rotation presentation which we trained for with the help of the lovely training staff here at the RSC. We learned about techniques and how to structure our presentations.
Over 6 months there’s a lot to talk about so the training really helped to be succinct within the time allocated and helped to improve my confidence in public speaking.
 I transferred over to the Industry team who support and facilitate the growth of Small to Medium Enterprises (SME’s) or small businesses, in the chemical industry. The Industry team provide a service called Enterprise Plus which is a dedicated service that we provide for SME’s. Through this service we provide access to information, expertise and funding opportunities as well as giving SME’s discounts on our conferences and advertising in our Chemistry World Magazine.
The Industry team also focus on encouraging knowledge flows within industry and facilitate open innovation through organising networking events and competitions such as the Emerging Technologies Competition.
I am currently organising an exciting event for the Industry team. Strictly ender wraps at the moment- definitely more details later! However I can tell you I am looking at gorgeous venues in London- you just never know what hidden gems lie behind stone walls! I’m learning a lot about events management, project management and budgeting so far. Being able to take the lead is challenging but quite exciting!
I’m also going on Membership visits to universities around the UK during induction week for undergraduate students.
I had my first recruitment visit in the University of Bath. Travelling down the day before, I managed to see a bit of the lovely town centre. On the day I gave presentations to 150 undergraduate students and new postgraduate students about the benefits of being a Member of the RSC. The presentation training I received beforehand really helped me to prepare for this. It was great to meet all the lovely new students at the stall I set up in the Chemistry Department and help them start their membership with us.  Talking to existing members and seeing how their membership was helping them was also rewarding. I’ll be going to the University of Nottingham on the 1st October- so if you see me there come say hi!
Posted by Anu Daniel on Sep 30, 2014 6:36 PM BST
coffee infographic describing volumne and caffeine level
A post about welly boots, the first article about benzene and a BBC history piece on an amateur balloonist are on my desktop at the moment. These are all for the 175 Faces of Chemistry profile about Michael Faraday that I’m writing. My plans for publicising the project have nearly come to a close, although there’ll be more to look out for in EiC next month. This makes for just enough time to write another profile before the end of my rotation in Marketing.

It’s been a fantastic 6 months, not only managing the publicity for 175 Faces, but also finding out about Google AdWords and Analytics. I’ve been using AdWords to let people know about our themed journal issues – everything from Lab on a Chip technology to macronutrient cycles. I’ve also loved writing a couple of journal blogs about 175 Faces who’ve contributed to those journals, highlighting quotes about “these creatures called orbitals”, destroying spatulas and prejudice against people who can’t grow moustaches.

Google Analytics has allowed me to see how successful some of the publicity ideas were by showing me how many visits there’ve been to the 175 site. I’ve used it to answer some very varied questions from colleagues too, including finding the most useful screen resolution for developing a new mobile app, and discovering what “rsc-lc-treasure” is.

I've also found out about the Tea Advisory Panel (after writing a Chemistry World article about coffee), and enjoyed helping with the amazing Chemistry and Art exhibition at Burlington House.
Posted by Jenifer Mizen on Aug 28, 2014 9:57 AM BST

Industry. Innovation. Enterprise. In the last five months I’ve moved so far out of the squishy armchair of my comfort zone that it is a mere dot on the horizon of experience, development and thorough enjoyment.

As I have mentioned before, when I found out that I was joining the Industry team, I can’t deny I imagined a pretty intimidating fortress in front of me, due to my total lack of experience in that area. Looking back now though, I was right about the experience, but the fortress turned out to be a bouncy castle (with important learning outcomes of course)!

In one way or another, the biggest amount of my time has been taken up with supporting Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) though our annual innovation extravaganza, Emerging Technologies. Getting to see first-hand, the cutting edge technologies that the chemical sciences are developing, and having the opportunity to meet the brains behind them has been wonderful.  What has been even more valuable is the understanding of everything else that makes an idea fruitful.  The business plan, the intellectual property, the marketing, or a whole host of other things are what makes a success.
I have also been working with this year’s Industry and Technology Division award winners. Running a winners reception, where this group of exceptional scientists could meet, share their experiences, and discuss what the awards mean to them was a brilliant chance to build on my project management skills as well as show a bit of creative flair. Acting as a regular Michael Parkinson I had the opportunity to interview our winners in the beautiful Burlington House. This was an education in itself finding out each of their fascinating routes to awards success.

In amongst all this, I’ve been swatting off “industry acronyms” left, right and centre. If you want to know about KTN’s, IP, TSB’s and many more, I’m your man! This may seem insignificant or trivial but in a professional body with a great number of industry members, building this knowledge has armed me with the tools to best represent them in all of our activities.
It’s not all fun and games however! The annual RSC Presidents Dinner and Summer Party required Stephen and I to work late into one delightful summer evening at the Royal Academy of Arts. Tasked with entertaining our esteemed guests with our flagship outreach activity, Spectroscopy in a Suitcase, we boldly took them along on our forensic investigation, each one of them a determined Inspector Clouseau, solving the case of the forged “Blue Blob”, one of Picasso’s lesser known pieces. Using our portable infra-red spectrometer they identified the correct fingerprint for the ultramarine and Prussian and cobalt blue inks.

Once our job was done and the case solved, there was only one thing left to do. Don our dinner jackets and join the party. I think it’s fair to say that it’s not every day you get to dance with not one, but two presidents, whilst surrounded by millions of pounds worth of art! A fantastic way to end a fantastic rotation, and I’m very sad to say, end my time on the graduate scheme!

I’m leaving to join the Membership Development team and with the experience, knowledge and skills that I have developed over the last twelve months, combined with the wonderful relationships, forged not with colleagues but with dear friends, I am very sure that I couldn’t be more prepared. It has truly been a year to remember and I hope many of you reading may be inspired to take up the same chance I’ve had when the applications are next open!

Gareth 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 Gareth Davies on Jul 30, 2014 1:25 PM BST

Almost at the end of my first rotation in schools and colleges and it doesn’t seem all that long ago that I started!

During my time working in the schools and colleges department at the Royal Society of Chemistry I have had the opportunity to get involved in a number of different projects. One of the main things that I have spent my time working on is the Chemistry and Art exhibition to go alongside our theme this year, ‘Chemistry of Art’. For this I have been sourcing different work to exhibit (including some exciting artwork from a project in Australia, Insight Radical), liaising with various people from museums, and generally curating and organising the exhibition. This has been both exciting and busy and we are now over half way through the exhibition which, so far, is going well!


As well as the exhibition I have been involved in sourcing and organising some of the multimedia content for our online CPD for teachers tool. This has meant that I have had days filming experiments or editing films in studios and helping with voiceovers (exciting but not quite as glamourous as it sounds!), to uploading resources and multimedia to the website platform.

The schools and colleges department are really keen on ensuring that you get a feel for the whole department and not just the immediate team that you are a part of. This means I’ve also had the opportunity to shadow our education coordinators, help out at some of the teacher training scholarship assessment days, and work with the outreach team to plan Burlington House’s part in this years’ Open House London.
I have really enjoyed my time working in the schools and colleges department and despite looking forward to what my next rotation will be I will be sad to leave.

Geri is a Graduate currently working in the Schools and Colleges 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 Jul 23, 2014 11:14 AM BST

image of a sheep from a winning entry to the Bill Bryson prize, 2013

Caffeine crystals in your eyes, web analytics, and postcards have all featured in my newest rotation in Marketing.

Having worked on the 175 Faces of Chemistry project in my last rotation, I’m now going about publicising it more (look out for a mention in Chemistry World!) Amongst other things, I’m also working with Membership and Design teams to get postcards printed – soon to be found at the Chemistry Centre and at various events.

Running a marketing campaign for 175 makes for a wide experience of what the whole team does, however I’m officially a part of the data team, and so have been finding out about web analytics and supporting colleagues with relevant data... my geography knowledge has definitely improved with discovering data about the international member community! Pay-per-click advertising is another thing I’ve been managing, getting the word out about particular themed journal issues.

I’m enjoying writing for Chemistry World, and had a particularly memorable topic to report on recently -  cocrystallising caffeine with an antibiotic for eye infections to improve the drug's solubility properties (Caffeine-fuelled fix for runaway eye treatment).

Grad activities also continue - this month we're all involved in the Bill Bryson Science and Art Prize - I'm very much looking forward to admiring the winning entries - to be announced in June! You can find last year's here - featuring sheep and falling grand pianos…


Jenifer Mizen is a Graduate currently working in the Marketing 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 May 8, 2014 10:01 AM BST
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