Editorial: Taking Your Next Career Step | AIChE

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Editorial: Taking Your Next Career Step


Emily Petruzzelli, Editor-in-Chief

Sometimes, when you get bogged down in the minutia of a job, it can be difficult to take a step back and look at the big picture — i.e., where exactly are you headed, career-wise? Our October issue, dedicated to professional development, encourages some introspection.

If you are feeling unfulfilled in your current job, it can be important to reflect on your team’s culture and whether it encourages psychological safety. “A psychologically safe workspace fosters collaboration, inclusion, learning, creativity, productivity, and satisfaction…” writes Dennis W. Hess in his article on pp. 35–39. Psychological safety has a direct impact on team performance, as it allows workers to feel comfortable enough to ask questions, learn from mistakes, challenge the status quo, and maintain open dialogue. A workplace without a culture of psychological safety may leave team members feeling excluded, emotionally isolated, or unable to share viewpoints and new ideas. Although it is certainly possible to improve a workplace’s dynamic, often the easiest solution is simply to pursue a job with a healthier work environment.

For those readers who have decided that they need a change in career trajectory, the column on p. 24, “Flip Your Job Search Strategy — Target Companies, Not Jobs,” may be useful. In the column, career management professional Kate Williamson encourages job seekers to focus on high return-on-investment job search strategies, like networking and conducting informational interviews. For those job seekers who aren’t sure about the best place to start, she advises them to build a list of desirable companies they want to work for and proceed thoughtfully, rather than applying at random to dozens of jobs online.

After you’ve narrowed down the search and have started applying to positions, the next step is interviewing. The feature article on pp. 29–34, “What Do Hiring Managers Look For in Chemical Engineers?” gathers the perspectives of four industry recruiters who share their tips for navigating the hiring process. I was surprised to learn that hiring managers often look for non-traditional skills — like proficiency in data analytics, financial acumen, and commitment to community service — in job candidates. Although this article is targeted toward young professionals and engineers right out of college, more-established professionals will find some value in the recruiters’ insights into the key mistakes that engineers commonly make during the interview process.

There is no better place to put everything you learn into action than at next month’s 2023 AIChE Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL (Nov. 5–10). Search out representatives of companies and strike up a conversation. Or, simply talk to someone you don’t know to build your network. You won’t be alone — hundreds of first-time job seekers will be at the meeting, and many will be presenting their research at the “Meet the Faculty and Post-Doc Candidate” and the “Meet the Industry Candidate” poster sessions.

If you plan on attending the meeting, I encourage you to stop by the poster sessions — I always find that the graduate student presenters bring a wonderful energy to the conference that reinvigorates my love for what I do. Meeting the next generation of inspired engineers just might motivate you to consider your own professional development and chart your next career move.

Emily Petruzzelli, Editor-in-Chief


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