2017 Reflection, 2018 Plans

2017 has been a year of changes

I (finally) finished my undergraduate degree.
In February 2011 I started a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Arts double degree, and in September 2017 I graduated with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Chemistry. The reasons a 3 year degree took me 6.5 years to complete deserve their own post, but having concluded a degree was necessary, finishing left me untethered from the University of Sydney.

I moved from Sydney to Oxford.
Sydney is where I have lived almost my entire life.  I am now far from those family and friends, living in Oxford. I have decided to minimise and anonymise the people of my personal life in this blog, but they are significant. Particularly it was one relationship that drove this move, and I am very fortunate that 6 months on it has been a change that has made me very happy. I am also lucky to have made new friends along the way.

I stopped tutoring and teaching.
Since finishing high school,  tutoring (maths and science) and coaching (debating) have been my primary sources of income. I have enjoyed it deeply as playing the expert is validating. Unfortunately investing in students requires substantial energy, and I needed to spend that focus on other career paths.

I had my first job with a public company.
For the last four months of 2017 I worked for Alere Toxicology, during which time its acquisition by Abbott was completed. My job title was “Production Scientist”, and I worked preparing consumables for the DDS2, and microplates for ELISA, testing. This temporary position is coming to a close in early 2018, and I intend to reflect more fully on it then.

I started this blog.
Writing is useful for reflection as well as communication. These posts clarify my messy thoughts about where I am and where I am going. The blog was also mentioned in a job interview in the last few days of this year, so gradually it is proving a useful tool in helping others understand who I am.

2018 Plans

In short: learn,  improve my routine, write more.

 

Writing from London

Focus and LaTeX

Job Hunting Update
My primary goal is still finding work. So far that looks like:

   Positions Considered          200
   Applications             50
   Rejections               7
   Recruiter Calls       Many
   Interviews               6
   Offers               0

Unfortunately still no offers. Progress is accelerating, having found clarity in my own goals.

CV and Resume
In this job application period, I’ve used 3 CV/Resumes:
CV Version 1:   Simple bullet point list.
CV Version 2:  Google docs template, better design but less content.
CV Version 3: LaTeX template, content dense whilst still fairly clean.
I am happy with the result of Version 3, and hopefully it impresses some employers. The process of formatting content was itself an act of introspection, a useful reminder that presentation is intertwined with content in transferring meaning. Also it is hard to send a message if you are not sure of the content yourself.

Personal Aims
In preparing my latest CV, I felt the need to include my personal aim in this job search, which I’ve distilled to the following:

Find a career solving complex and rewarding problems, with opportunities to develop skills and knowledge. Work with a diverse and experienced team, aspiring to one day lead investigative research and development.

I want to find work where I can grow, and while education and finance are interesting fields, it is the application of scientific and logical tools, rather than the content itself that interests me. Career progression in scientific research seems to require a PhD. The fastest path would be to do honours at the University of Sydney, but having spent nearly 7 years in and around USyd I feel it is time to diversify my experience. Additionally maintaining a relationship over the longest possible distance can be quite tedious.

LaTeX
Last weekend I finally familiarised myself with the document preparation system LaTeX. I had played with it a little before, but hadn’t taken the time to go through a tutorial in its entirety. I’m using the editor texmaker and have been happy with it.

Writing from the Oxford Hacker-space.

July 2017: Job Hunting and Rock Climbing

I left Sydney for Oxford in early July, so a month having elapsed, this is what I’ve been up to:

Job Hunting
My primary goal has been finding work. So far that looks like:

   Positions Considered             81
   Applications             16
   Rejections               6
   Recruiter Calls               4
   Interviews               3
   Offers               0

Unfortunately no offers. I’ve focused on jobs in Oxford, so have applied to positions from the university. In a wider search, reed has seemed more relevant to me than indeed,  and making a profile there has been the main source of calls from recruiters, which seems promising. It’s probably time to extend the search to include London, though I’m still hoping to find something here in Oxford.

Reading
Aside from many job descriptions, I’ve been reading Huffington’s The Sleep RevolutionThe Economist, and reddit.

Hackerspace
Having become a member of the Oxford hackerspace, I’ve been helping out a little with the 3D printing service. Producing tangible objects is very satisfying in contrast to job hunting.

Fitness
I’ve tried two new activities: squash and rock-climbing/bouldering. My staples of running/cycling and weightlifting leave a gap over hand-eye coordination, which squash fills in well. After about 8 hours I think I’m starting to develop muscle memory for basic play. I was surprised to find climbing has a huge mental component; planning and executing the correct strategy seems just as important as strength. It’s certainly fun, and much more mentally involved than lifting weights or running, but for pure fitness training not as effective.

Chess
I’ve played 207 games of chess. I haven’t improved much, so should add structured training rather than just blundering repetitively through similar openings. It’s probably also been more procrastination than relaxation this month.

Berglabs
And, of course, I’ve resuscitated this domain and updated it with a WordPress theme.

Travel
Life has taken me to London (by train) and Eyam (by car).

Writing from the Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford.

CVs and Résumés

I’ve been tinkering a little with this website, and so far it’s essentially becoming a curriculum vitae (CV). That’s probably a useful thing for potential employers to get to know me (and see that I have basic web/IT/media skills), but once I find a job that might be less useful as a front page/home page for my personal website.

Currently my actual CV is just a google doc bullet point list of various things I’ve done. As a document it could definitely be formatted better, and likely ought be tailored specifically to each role I apply for.

I thought I’d share some CV’s I’ve seen that I’ve enjoyed.

I’ve noticed in interviews so far in Oxford that interviewers will “discover” something in my CV and ask about it during the interview. This highlights the short amount of time that prospective employers will spend skimming the CV, so it’s probably sensible to cut mine down to one page, and try to better highlight the major achievements, and relevant experience. That reformat is probably this afternoon’s task (as well as doing a little re-wiring of some networking cable here)

Writing from the Oxford Hacker-space.