Chemistry picture of the week: #altchemjobs


This desk is not the desk I work at at the University of Melbourne. This is a totally different desk in a totally different building! This post will be the story of how I got to this desk and what I do there, permeated with how excited I am about it all.

I joined the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) late last year in order to be involved in the Victorian Young Chemists Group, also formed last year. I was skimming the national newsletter for RACI early this year, when I came across a small section asking for volunteers to write parts of a coffee table book planned to be released as a part of the RACI centenary celebrations next year. As evident from this blog, science communication and writing are major loves of mine and a possible career path to follow after my graduation, so I penned an e-mail to the CEO stating my willingness to help, “despite only being a student.” I included a link to this very blog as an example of a more casual writing project.

What I wasn’t expecting was a call the very next day from a woman at the RACI national office who informed me that they would like to offer me a job, would I be available to come in for an interview?

Turns out, RACI had recently lost the student (thankfully not literally) who had been in control of their social media accounts. Several employees and committee members of RACI had since taken it upon themselves to post a little on these accounts, but since they also had other, arguably more important duties, the accounts were suffering. The national office was keen to employ someone with the specific purpose to control the social media accounts, with the aim to engage the wider chemistry community.

I went to the interview, and honestly, it was a little awkward. I had had a couple of hours to prepare relevant questions, which was helpful, but I don’t think either my employers or I really knew what we were looking for. Although I’m very active on social media daily in my personal life, I became irrationally afraid that doing social media for a corporation would be very different from what I do as an individual, and that I don’t have the necessary qualifications for the job. I’m also still very Finnish at heart, and although I’ve learnt to sell myself on paper, I tend to be very modest about my skills in person. Despite all of this, my employers still decided they would like to have me on board. We agreed that I would start after my confirmation.

When my first day arrived on the third of March, I was still a little afraid that I just wouldn’t know what I was doing. Once I was done with admin stuff and actually got to sit down at my desk and log on to the social media accounts, all of those doubts evaporated. I spend more time on Twitter than I’d really like to admit, and I’m pretty familiar with how social media operates. In just a couple of minutes, I found I was really just feeding my addiction and enjoying myself.

What totally blows my mind, though, is that I have a job now. I have a chemistry job! An #altchemjob! It feels good.

Do you have an #altchemjob? Do you want an #altchemjob? Let me know in the comments or on You can also tweet @Lady_Beaker.