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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’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
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
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