A Collaborative Community for Everyone
The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) extends a warm helping hand to its members throughout their careers; we spoke with Jessica Evans to find out more...
sponsored by The Royal Society of Chemistry
Tell us about yourself and your role with the RSC
I studied chemistry at Reading then started work analyzing sports supplements. It was exactly what I wanted to be doing and I loved it, but I decided that a more people-facing role might be more suited to me. The RSC was an obvious choice from there, and the role of Membership Recruitment Executive suits me nicely! In addition to being part of a professional body in the field I’m passionate about, I’m also able to support other chemists flourish in their careers. I’ll have been here for two years in July!
What makes the RSC so special?
I think many people will know us for our publishing work (we have 46 journals spanning the breadth of chemical sciences), but the RSC is known for a wide range of activities. What makes it so special? All of these activities are supported by our fantastic member community! And we also act as an advocate through our policy work. In the latter endeavour, we are striving to become even more active with bigger contributions to broad and important goals, such as increased diversity and sustainability. Our research campaigns – a prime example being “Breaking the Barriers,” which focussed on gender equity in academic publishing – are evidence of those efforts. Part of our royal charter is to maintain and enhance professional standards and disseminate chemical knowledge – and all of this work supports that. We’ve been following our charter and empowering our members for over 180 years – and we’re not stopping now!
Could you tell us more about the membership categories?
First is our student membership, which is available at a heavily discounted rate to give them the best start possible in their careers! Then we have our professional categories: associates, members, and fellows. Associate memberships are given to those who have just graduated or obtained an equivalent level of expertise through their working life to date; members have three years of post-study experience; and fellow-level memberships are given to those with at least five years of experience in a senior role. For people who don’t yet have a formal qualification or the required years of experience, or who are otherwise involved in the chemical sciences, there’s the affiliate category. Members of any category benefit from our support irrespective of their working sector.
How do you support your members through all stages of their careers?
Our members work in a fast-paced environment that constantly evolves. We recognize that professional development is key to career progression in this environment; professional awards offer a framework to ensure that members develop their skills and knowledge in a rounded and effective way. Chartered Chemist, Chartered Scientist, Chartered Environmentalist, Chartered Manger and the Professional Registers are awards that highlight important soft skills and facilitate continuous development at every career stage.
Then we have our mentoring scheme and peer support groups – designed to help our members share experiences and guide one another. But we’re constantly developing our offerings! For example, a new hub that offers guidance for interviews and preparing CVs, as well as self-assessment tools, will be available to our members soon (watch this space).
Do you receive any positive feedback on your offerings?
We collect feedback through annual surveys – and the results are overwhelmingly positive. In 2020, 92 percent of responding members said they were proud to be a member! And 91 percent agreed that we are advancing excellence in the chemical sciences. Of course, we also receive some constructive criticism – we value this just as much as the positive feedback as it helps us to remain relevant and ensures that we can continue being a diverse and inclusive community in the chemical sciences.
Nessa Carson, a member and senior automation scientist at Syngenta, also provided this great feedback about our careers services: “When people ask me why they should join the RSC, I always tell them about the amazing career advice. I think a lot of people forget that careers support is part of your membership, but it totally is and you can talk to the team at any time you like.”
Great feedback! And what else would you say to somebody thinking about joining?
I’d tell them that we provide support for everyone – no matter their career stage, sector, or location. And, more than that, we offer a welcoming community that encourages conversation and collaboration between talented and like-minded individuals. Community is what we’re all about – and our members seem to agree! After all, 77 percent of them said that they felt that they “belonged” with the RSC in our 2020 survey.
To hear more about our members’ experiences, please visit our website (rsc.li/memberstories) or tune in for one of our monthly Instagram or Twitter live sessions. I’m having a blast chatting to the attendees and I look forward to seeing you there!