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Ever wanted to know what the staff at the RSC get up to? In this blog, members of our graduate schemes describe some of the interesting (or unusual!) activities and projects they are working on...

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 It’s been nine months since I started at the RSC – how time flies…

I’m still really enjoying the Publishing Editor role and I’m now dealing with papers throughout the publishing process, from initial submission right through to publication online and in print. As well as my day-to-day activities of peer review, editing and proof-reading, I have recently been appointed cover coordinator for Soft Matter. This is a great chance to gain some extra responsibility and get more involved with the journal, as I get to commission cover artwork for our weekly print issues. It’s nice to see the wide range of cover image suggestions we receive and it’s particularly exciting when we get a really striking cover. Helping to promote the highest quality work on our covers is great for the authors and the journal itself!

The interfaces team is growing rapidly, with five new members since I joined last July. I’ve been training some of the newer members of the team in issue makeup, which is where we collect together recently published advance articles and prepare them for a print issue. This opportunity has really helped to increase my confidence levels, and seeing someone go from not knowing where to start with something to being able to complete the whole process on their own is very rewarding.
Sarah Kenwright is a Graduate working in the Royal Society of Chemistry's Publishing Department. To see if there are any current vacancies go to 'RSC: Latest Vacancies' Blog or subscribe to 'RSC: Latest Vacancies' by Email
Posted by Sarah Kenwright on Apr 15, 2013 9:35 AM BST

Two and a half months of organisation, forty enthusiastic volunteers and 2kg of bicarbonate of soda = a successful RSC stand at the Cambridge Science Festival!

In addition to our rotation work, the RSC graduates also have their own “grad projects”. Since I was in the Education team, I was appointed project manager for the task of organising the RSC stand at the Cambridge Science Festival this year. This is the first time that I have managed people formally and it was definitely a daunting prospect at first! 

Working with people you know well is a nice gentle introduction to project management – it means that you can make mistakes and learn from them in a friendly environment!  It was also nice to have the freedom to make the stand our own, decide on the hands-on activities and work with the Design team to produce posters, hand outs and flyers to attract people to come along.

I would say that the most challenging part was making sure that we had thought of everything that needed to be organised – from booking enough t-shirts for the volunteers to designing stickers to record the number of people who got involved.  I also learnt that it is impossible to plan for all eventualities – sometimes you just have to improvise!

When the day came, it was fantastic to see all of our hard work come together and everyone having a great time.  It is also really satisfying to have been involved in something which has had so much positive feedback.

Amy Styring is a Graduate working on the Royal Society of Chemistry's Graduate Scheme. To see if there are any current vacancies go to RSC Latest Vacancies or subscribe to 'RSC: Latest Vacancies' by Email  
Posted by Amy Styring on Mar 18, 2013 4:25 PM GMT

I have just started my fourth and final rotation in the Chemistry World editorial team.

Before that I spent three months in the communications team working on RSC News – the monthly newsletter for RSC members. I got involved in all aspects of production of the magazine, from writing news and features to proofreading the final version every month. A lot of this was completely new to me, as I had never experienced the whole process of putting a print publication together from start to finish. There’s something really satisfying about seeing a text heavy word document transformed into a colourful double page spread.

I really enjoyed working on RSC News, and I was lucky enough to rotate into the Chemistry World team, where I will be working for the next six months. Chemistry World is the RSC’s flagship monthly magazine that covers news and opinion from across the chemical sciences. I am looking forward to honing my writing skills working on the magazine as well as other RSC publications like Education in Chemistry and The Mole.

Over the last few weeks the grad projects have also been keeping me busy. Tomorrow we will entertain budding chemists of all ages with some energetic, messy and edible demonstrations at the Cambridge Science Festival. There's event a giant cardboard cutout of Benedict Cumberbatch to go with our latest competition! If you’re in the area, why not come and say hi?

Emma Stoye is a Graduate working on the Royal Society of Chemistry's Graduate Scheme. To see if there are any current vacancies go to RSC Latest Vacancies or subscribe to 'RSC: Latest Vacancies' by Email
Posted by Emma Stoye on Mar 15, 2013 4:32 PM GMT

I’ve now been at the RSC for eight months, and am fully trained in all key aspects of the job.

It’s still a good time to be part of the Materials team. Following the split of the Journal of Materials Chemistry into a family of three at the beginning of the year, we’ve just announced the launch of a brand new high impact materials journal, Materials Horizons. This new addition to the family will showcase cutting-edge research and will open for submissions in April in preparation for the publication of the first issue later this year. Identifying the standard of work we’re looking to publish in this leading new journal will keep us all on our toes, and I’m looking forward to the meetings and discussions we’ll be having as we assess the submissions. The team has also been growing, and now no fewer than six members of the team have joined since I did. I’m starting to feel like an old hand!

The RSC encourages training and development both as part of the graduate scheme and beyond, and I recently took part in an exercise to become more familiar with how the business side of the organisation works. It’s good to be able to take a step back and think about the wider RSC outside of publishing.

Outside of work, I’ve started running regularly with colleagues, after taking part in a charity fun run round the science park. We manage to get out most weeks now, but are always looking for more people to join us!

Stephen is a Graduate working in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Publishing Department. To see if there are any vacancies go to 'RSC: Latest Vacancies' Blog or subscribe to 'RSC: Latest Vacancies' by Email
Posted by Stephen Hessey on Mar 8, 2013 8:25 AM GMT

I can’t believe it has been four months since my last blog post!

On the other hand, it must have been that long, because an awful lot seems to have happened in that time. The Interfaces team is growing fast – we have acquired four new members since I joined the RSC. I am now fully trained in editing, as well as proofing, and am working hard on peer review.

At first, the thought of reading reviews and making a decision on a primary research paper that I had only just read was a terrifying one, but I am now getting into the swing of things and feel that I can cope with the awesome responsibility of the accept/reject decisions. I am more or less independent on RSC Advances peer review (though it is always nice to get a second opinion on a tricky decision!) and have spent the past month training on Soft Matter. Of course, the flip side of the terrifying responsibility is the elation of realising you’ve got a really good paper on your hands, which may be the best bit of this job!

In addition to peer review training, I have been working on producing a new LaTeX template to match the new RSC article template which has been introduced this year. It has been nice to work on a cross-team project, as I’ve got to meet and work with a different set of people in the LaTeX user group. I have also commissioned a few covers for our newest journal, Biomaterials Science. Choosing the most striking image for the front cover is a lot of fun, although sometimes the submission deadlines for final images are quite tight, which can be stressful for us, as well as the authors!

Outside of work, I have also been encouraging my colleagues to come running! So far only a few of us have braved the cold to do a few laps of the Science Park at lunchtime and after work, but we have plans to find more recruits and maybe even enter some races.
LJ Michie is a Graduate working in the Royal Society of Chemistry's Publishing Department. To see if there are any current vacancies go to 'RSC: Latest Vacancies' Blog or subscribe to 'RSC: Latest Vacancies' by Email
Posted by Laura Jane Michie on Feb 18, 2013 4:25 PM GMT

It’s been eleven months since I joined the RSC and I am now approaching the end of my final rotation as part of the scheme. Time flies!

I am currently working within the science team which is a great team to be involved with as everyone is really friendly and the work is varied. For example, recently I’ve been involved in research into medicinal chemistry education in the UK. However I’ve also been helping to devise this year’s global experiment and have been involved in the organisation of a policy lecture on nuclear energy.  

It’s amazing to think back on all the projects I have been involved in.  

Working at the RSC I’ve gained a much better understanding of the role of the society plays in supporting and advancing the chemical sciences. I’ve met people from all over the UK (and in fact all over the world) and had the opportunity to interact with people whose interests lie in different areas of chemistry and who are at very different stages of their careers. There have been countless events and it has been really rewarding to be a part of some of them from the start to finish. I’ve also had the opportunity to travel considerably, mainly in the UK, but also further afield and I’m very proud that I now have a much better knowledge of UK geography. I even know where Loughborough is!

If you are considering applying for the graduate scheme, I would definitely recommend it. The RSC provide lots of training and support and the other grads are great! They didn’t make me say that – honestly.

Laura Smart is a Graduate working on the Royal Society of Chemistry's Graduate Scheme. To see if there are any current vacancies go to RSC Latest Vacancies
Posted by Laura Smart on Feb 18, 2013 2:38 PM GMT

Since I started on the Graduate Scheme in September 2012, I’ve spent my time working on numerous large projects simultaneously; working at the RSC is definitely an opportunity to test your time management skills! As the projects are so variable and interesting, my time in Strategic and Commercial Partnerships has flown by and I’m just nearing the end of my first rotation.

As one of the six major projects in support of the RSC’s strategic priorities, one of my favourite projects to be involved in was also the most demanding. Supporting excellence in teaching practical science and promoting chemistry to the next generation of scientists were the main aims of the project I was fortunate to be a part of. My role included ‘getting out there’ in the community, arranging external meetings and speaking to local companies, gauging the demand for commercial hire and involvement in science outreach activities. It also involved writing parts of the business plan, calculating projected activities, constructing price models, preparing presentations and posters, contacting Trusts & Foundations for potential funding and writing proposals - nearly all of which I had very little experience in before I started on the graduate scheme! Needless to say, it was an excellent project for a grad to be working on as I was given a lot of responsibility, independence and freedom to contribute my own ideas.

There are lots of rewards in working hard at the RSC, including the chance to work at high-profile events. I’m a big fan of The Apprentice, Ricky Martin and Lord Alan Sugar, so it’s no surprise that I was very excited to be a part of the launch of Hyper Recruitment Solutions (HRS) at the Chemistry Centre in Burlington House. I’ve also had the chance to meet Bill Bryson at the House of Commons, organise several policy events and develop some exciting new chemistry games (out soon!), so I’m eager to see what the rest of the Graduate Scheme will bring me!

Emily James is a Graduate working on the Royal Society of Chemistry's Graduate Scheme. To see if there are any current vacancies go to RSC Latest Vacancies or subscribe to 'RSC: Latest Vacancies' by Email
Posted by Emily James on Feb 7, 2013 9:57 AM GMT

One year on and I’m starting to feel like a veteran. I’m training in peer review, and surprising myself with my ability to understand and discuss a wide range of papers. 

Peer review training has been fascinating, as you get the chance to read newly submitted manuscripts containing brand new research, before sending them out to be reviewed and then finally making the all-important decision of whether to accept it for the journal. So far, I have only done peer review for Soft Matter, and my initial terror at branching out into such new territory (my background is in organic and inorganic synthesis) has given way to enthusiasm for all things Soft. I’m learning a lot, and in meetings I can merrily use words like “colloid” and “rheology” and “liposome”, which were only recently a complete mystery to me.

My list of responsibilities is also growing. Recently I have been given the opportunity to train a new member of the team in issue make-up, I have been made journal coordinator for Soft Matter, and I have been given some external Associate Editors to look after. All these responsibilities have helped me grow in confidence, and added variety to my working day. I’m also scheduled to attend a Faraday Discussion in September, which I’m really looking forward to, and I may get a chance to go along to the upcoming RSC Editor’s Symposium in Brussels.

Outside right now Cambridge is covered in a gorgeous white dusting of snow. Fortunately the office is toasty warm!

Elisabeth Ratcliffe is a Graduate working in the Royal Society of Chemistry's Publishing Department. To see if there are any current vacancies go to 'RSC: Latest Vacancies' Blog or subscribe to 'RSC: Latest Vacancies' by Email

Posted by Elisabeth Ratcliffe on Jan 17, 2013 2:07 PM GMT

Starting on the graduate scheme at the end of September 2012, I began my first rotation in Membership Services. This was not an area I would have necessarily chosen for myself but, as with the RSC in general, the variety and scope of work that falls under its remit is far greater and more varied than I thought.

For 175 Faces of Chemistry, a three-year long diversity project, I wrote copy for the website and produced promotional materials for the launch, working closely with the communications and design team. Since the launch, I have been involved in the on-going process of choosing the featured faces and looking at expanding how the project can link into other events and anniversaries, both RSC and more widely.

Another longer-term project that has been completely different is Trends in Remuneration, the RSC’s salary survey. After a slower start - a lot of reading up on previous surveys - I have been working with a cross section of departments to design the new survey and working on the briefing document for tender to research companies.

When the RSC hosted the National Youth Theatre at Burlington House, to perform If Chloe Can... a play to encourage girls to raise their career aspirations, I worked with Events and the BH team on the logistics. I liaised with the panellists to write their biographies, provided support on the day and attended a complementary event in the evening to celebrate women champions in science.

Every graduate works on real projects with tangible affects and benefits for the RSC (not just ‘graduate work’ that doesn’t have an impact). I’ve learnt a lot in a short space of time and found everyone, both in my team and other departments, to be extremely friendly and helpful (even when I ask a question for the third time).

Holly Salisbury is a Graduate working on the Royal Society of Chemistry's graduate scheme. To see if there are any current vacancies go to 'RSC: Latest Vacancies' Blog or subscribe to 'RSC: Latest Vacancies' by Email
Posted by Holly Salisbury on Jan 17, 2013 9:32 AM GMT

I joined the RSC at the end of September as a Science, Education and Industry Graduate and it feels like it has been 3 weeks rather than three months. I am in my first rotation in the Higher Education, Business and Industry team and it has been great as I have been working on a variety of projects from undergraduate research bursaries to data management.

One project that I have particularly enjoyed is the joint RSC and Nuffield Foundation Undergraduate Summer Bursary Scheme as I learned a lot in a very small space of time. As well as working with the Nuffield Foundation, it was also a cross team project within the RSC to produce the documents and details for the webpage and application form.

I have also been working with the large collection of the data the RSC possesses and trying to find a way of making the data more interactive for staff to manipulate for their needs. Although it may not sound particularly exciting, it actually is very interesting and hopefully the end product will be user friendly for everyone at the RSC.  I have had a lot of fun looking at the different ways to display data including one which method which uses breakfast cereal characters in the demo.

I moved to Cambridge from Glasgow after spending nine years at the University of Strathclyde and I have settled in really well. I am still getting used to the fact that it is much flatter (no more hilly campus to navigate in the winter) and that fog is more of a problem than rain! After leaving a friendly and social PhD group, I was glad that RSC is very similar with lots of social activities including the fancy dress Christmas party.

 Melissa Black is a Graduate working on the Royal Society of Chemistry's Graduate Scheme. To see if there are any current vacancies go to 'RSC: Latest Vacancies' Blog or subscribe to 'RSC: Latest Vacancies' by Email

Posted by Melissa Black on Dec 19, 2012 3:19 PM GMT
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