"I started working at Rhodia just before Christmas, so the first few weeks were pretty slow. Normally, not being busy bothers me but it was actually really good to have time to learn general things like, how to do I use Outlook Calendar? Where do people eat lunch? And what route to work avoids traffic and takes me past a coffee place?
After the holidays, things really picked up. I started to focus on an energy-related scouting project, and it is exciting to be developing new technologies for the company. Even though the technical arena we are looking into is new to me, I was still able to immediately contribute with the technical and project management side of things, which felt great.
A few notables from my experience so far: First, there is a big difference between academia and industry when it comes to getting up to speed. At Rhodia, I was trained in the company's safety policies and other procedures in the first days. I think when you're hired as a scientist for a company, that company is investing in you and your skills so they want to start seeing returns on that investment as quickly as possible. It's just the nature of the business to get moving right away. It's fast-paced but the experience has actually been a lot of fun.
Second, the day-to-day work experience is quite different than in academia and government research. Working in R&D at Rhodia requires more time in the office, in meetings and project planning. This wasn't a shocker to me, but I bring it up because I think some scientists might consider that a turn-off. I actually think the mix is stimulating. Lab work can be really exciting and rewarding, but at times it can also be unbelievably frustrating and mentally taxing. Personally I think a mixture of technical work and project planning is a perfect balance.
One last thing: It feels really nice to be doing what I love and making decent money for it!
That's my experience to date. I am excited about the next few weeks. Right now everyone at Rhodia is ramping up for the inauguration of the COMPASS lab, which will bring together the upper management from the CNRS, Rhodia North America, Rhodia France and the principal investigators from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as outside guests for a two-day symposium and ceremony. It will be interesting to hear the feedback about the lab's format, projects and future opportunities. Stay tuned..."
• Ryan Murphy joined Rhodia in December 2009 and is a senior scientist at Rhodia's Center for Research and Technology in Bristol, Pennsylvania in the US.
Click here if you missed Ryan's first entry and introduction.