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

Find out more about the RSC Graduate Scheme here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 reasons to love working at the RSC

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


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

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