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American Chemical Society AMA: I’m Lisa Balbes, Freelance Technical Writer/Editor and ACS Career Consultant here to discuss nontraditional careers for chemists. Ask me anything!
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Hi Reddit! I am Lisa Balbes, a long-time Technical Writer/Editor and a volunteer Career Consultant with the American Chemical Society. I am here to discuss chemistry careers, nontraditional careers for scientists, and making career transitions. To give you a little background, I earned my Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and my undergraduate degrees in chemistry and psychology from Washington University in St Louis. I spent several years as a computational chemist at Research Triangle Institute. For the past 23+ years, I have been running my own business, providing technical writing and editing services for organizations including Washington University Medical School, Bausch and Lomb Surgical, SigmaAldrich, Stereotaxis, and the US FDA. I addtion to my professional experience, I have been an American Chemical Society volunteer career consultant since 1993, providing career management advice and information to literally thousands of scientists worldwide. I am the author of “Nontraditional Careers for Chemists: New Formulas in Chemistry”, published by Oxford University Press in 2007. In 2012, I received the E. Ann Nalley Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service for the ACS Midwest Region, and in 2015 I received the Howard and Sally Peters Award from the ACS Division of Chemistry and the Law. I also volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America on both the Greater St Louis area Boy Scout STEM Committee and the national STEM/Nova committee. In 2015, I was the staff advisor for a week-long STEM Trek for Venturers at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, and have taught chemistry to thousands of youth in a tent on top of a mountain. I love sharing the world of science with youth, and opening their eyes to the possibilities. The ACS Career Consultant Program, an ACS member benefit, gives members access to a consultant to help guide you through job searching, career transitions, resume writing, and more. Take a look at this video I was featured in to learn more about the program. I have long felt that chemistry background prepares you for much more than just a laboratory career. The broad science education, analytical thinking, research methods, and other skills learned are of value to a wide variety of employers, and essential for a plethora of types of positions. By understanding both yourself and the employment market, you can make informed decisions about potential careers, and identify paths that match your needs. Possible career paths include chemical information, patent work, technical writing, education, human resources, sales, marketing, and much more. Knowing what you are good at, what you enjoy, and how to turn that into a career, is essential for success in today’s world. I’ll be back to answer questions at 1:00 PM ET (10 am PT, 5 pm UTC). Feel free to ask me anything about chemistry careers, nontraditional careers, and making career transitions. EDIT 1:00 PM: I’m here! Looks like I have lots to read, and I will start typing answers. Looking forward to some fun discussion! EDIT 2:06 PM: Wow, that went fast. Thanks for all the great questions! For more information about the ACS Career Consultants program, please visit http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/careers/career-services/ccp.html Best of luck in your career endeavors!