KickStart your Scientific Career

11 Mar 2015

SCI Liverpool & North West Group hosted another outstandingly successful KickStart evening in the Chemistry Department of Liverpool University in February this year. This annual event brings together business men and women, working in the chemistry and allied industries, with undergraduate and postgraduate science students, over a few beers, a buffet and a glass (or two) of wine.

Presentations were no longer than 15 minutes, and this year included Dr Claire Rees, James Murray and Maxine Doran, all R&D chemists with Mexichem Fluor (who kindly sponsored this event), Dave Shaw, working at Unilever R&D Port Sunlight as Pilot Plant Manager (and formerly a graduate of the Unilever Future Leaders Programme), Andrea Mallaburn, a senior lecturer in Science Education at Liverpool John Moores University - and so enthusiastic about teaching - and Mark Watson, a science communicator at Techniquest Glyndŵr.

Students heard about Claire's journey through university, a post doc in Canada – or was that playing in the snow most of the time – and then into industry. She is now with her second industrial company. James and Maxine also described their career paths. Dave described how he started off in the Navy – but decided after two weeks that this was the wrong career move. He then applied for the Unilever Future Leaders Programme and after demanding interviews was accepted. Andrea asked, and then answered, the question 'Why Teach Chemistry?' – what a performance! Finally Mark showed a video about the types of crazy demos he gets involved in and later sent around 30kv electricity through a group of Bangor students! You could feel the buzz that each of the presenters got from science and see why they were prepared to give up their own time to encourage others into a scientific career.

Finally, Dr Caroline Cordery (who now runs her own CV consultancy, Signature CVs Ltd., after 35 years with Unilever in R&D) gave a short presentation on the 'dos and don'ts' of CV writing, covering letters and interviews. During this presentation, Hannah Rogers, a final year PhD student, spoke about the process of applying for jobs.

With the formal part of the evening over, we adjourned to devour pizza, cheese & biscuits, apple pie and chocolate cake – all washed down with a glass or two of alcoholic beverage! Many thanks here to Dr Ian O'Neil, a Reader in Chemistry at Liverpool University. Ian always puts on a fantastic spread at very reasonable cost. These refreshments are very important, because this is where a key part of the evening takes place: with the students asking questions of the presenters and the other industrialists present - all representing an excellent cross section of industry.

Feedback was very positive and industrialists have already volunteered to speak at next year's event! Additionally, we are planning to hold a future event in Bangor, who are staunch supporters of KickStart, coaching in around 40 students each year – thanks to Dr Lorretta Murphy.

Finally, thanks to the Liverpool & North West Programme Sub-Committee for organising the event, Mexicham Fluor for sponsoring financially and Unilever for administrative support.

DR Caroline S Cordery BSc PhD CChem FRSC
SCI Liverpool & North West Treasurer

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