AIChE members at all career stages are benefiting from the career-path enhancing offerings provided by AIChE’s Institute for Learning and Innovation (ILI). The ILI’s multicomponent prescription for career-skills development and life-long learning is built upon four key elements: Career Discovery; training courses delivered through the AIChE Academy; credentialing in an expanding portfolio of technical areas; and opportunities to apply new learning in practice (Practice+).
A good entry point to the ILI experience is the personal insight and foundation for growth that participants gain through the Career Discovery component. At the heart of that element are virtual Career Discovery workshops facilitated by Valerie Patrick, a PhD chemical engineering alumnus of Cal Tech and President of Fulcrum Connection LLC, which has been helping technical organizations and their employees to improve performance through science-based training since 2014.
I was really amazed at what I had to do in this workshop and how it got me to reflect on what I want to do and how I can get there. It was definitely an eye-opener and helped me realized the steps I need to take in the chemical engineering field.”
Changing jobs is often a necessity
According to Patrick, the impetus for the Career Discovery approach to career planning was to confront an emerging reality: While changing jobs over the course of a career was once a choice for many engineers, changing jobs today is often a necessity. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the average employee entering the workforce today will work at nearly nine different jobs over the course of their career.
Future-proof your career development
“Career Discovery makes use of proven career development tools called “Five Futures,” to allow chemical engineers and technical professionals to pursue and build a career that best fits their evolving talents and interests,” says Patrick. Specifically, the AIChE workshops “leverage the critical thinking skills of chemical engineers to guide them through a visioning exercise that taps into their intrinsic motivations and uncovers career paths that they might not have previously considered.” Patrick adds that the Five Futures approach helps chemical engineers to consider their career options in the context of trends in order to “future-proof their career development efforts.”
Career Discovery workshop approach
The approach of the two-day Career Discovery workshop has proven to be a revelation to participants. One recent workshop attendee, Sohum Bhatt, who works for a semiconductor manufacturing firm, said in a LinkedIn post that, going into the experience, he had anticipated a typical career-skills session devoted to topics such as résumé enhancement and how to boost one’s networking presence. “It turned out to be more than that,” wrote Bhatt.
As Valerie Patrick describes the workshop process, “Participants do a ‘feats and failures’ exercise to identify skills that have led to success for them (feats) and lessons learned from failures. They then create an inventory of skills, leadership experiences, innovation experiences and learning experiences based on previous roles such as jobs held or research conducted.
That inventory — coupled with approaches for networking, self-advocacy, and research aimed at attractive future career paths — provides a baseline for a career development plan for three to five possible career futures.”
The next virtual Career Discovery Workshops is scheduled for June 16–17, 2022. Information about the regularly scheduled workshops is available on the AIChE Academy website.
Valerie Patrick, Career Discovery Workshop Instructor