Webinar Review: Promoting and Advocating for Your Career

Our trainees review webinars in their given fields and share abstracts to help colleagues outside their discipline make an informed choice about watching them. As our program bridges diverse disciplines, these abstracts are beneficial for our own group in helping one another gain key knowledge in each other’s fields. We are happy to share these here for anyone else who may find them helpful.

Promoting and Advocating for Your Career

Christy Haynes – Associate Editor at Analytical Chemistry, University of Minnesota
Jeanita S. Pritchett – Academic Program Manager & Leadership Coach, STEM Educator, Entrepreneur

June 25, 2021

American Chemical Society: ACS on Campus

Watch on the ACS website >>

Sara BellAnalysis by Sara Bell:

As part of the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) community outreach, the ACS on Campus program brings leaders in chemistry, STEM, publishing, and career development to institutions across the country. Their programs are not just for chemists, but for all students and professionals in the pure and applied sciences. In this selected webinar, “Promoting and Advocating for Your Career,” ACS on Campus has brought together two leaders in chemistry and academic leadership to provide young scientists with tips for self-advocacy and how to grow their careers.

The speakers, Jeanita Pritchett & Christy Haynes, are two PhD chemists and advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM. Jeanita Pritchett transitioned from graduate school to a postdoc position with NIST, then moved away from the lab to a role as an academic program manager and leadership coach. Alongside this work, she participates in many STEAM outreach programs. Christy Haynes moved to a faculty position at University of Minnesota quickly after graduate school. Now, she is the Associate Department Head for Chemistry, Associate Director for the NSF Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, and an Associate Editor for Analytical Chemistry.

To begin their talk, the speakers ask the audience to think about what it means to promote and advocate for your career. Self-advocacy is the practice of representing oneself and one’s views or interests. This can take a few different forms within the workplace such as negotiating salaries, asking to be considered for a promotion or award, and establishing boundaries to maintain a healthy work-life balance. However, there are some barriers that stand in the way of successful self-advocacy. Cultural socialization and aspects of our personalities may make it difficult for some people to voice the value and skills they contribute to a team or company. Furthermore, fear of conflict or coming off as arrogant or overconfident may stop people from promoting their accomplishments. However, there are many benefits to practicing self-advocacy. By advocating for your career, you can fast-track you career development and find opportunities that best align with your goals. Further, you can make sure that your accomplishments are not being overlooked during annual reviews or considerations for promotions. Self-advocacy also helps you establish boundaries and create support systems with your colleagues leading to decreased stress.

To help all of us successfully practice self-advocacy and reap these benefits, the speakers provide us with their top 10 tips. From practicing self-awareness to building strong communication skills, their ten tips provide a wealth of strategies. Personally, I found their insights into building a support system that you can learn from, grow with, and rely on throughout different stages of your career to be very useful. I would highly recommend checking out the webinar to hear the rest of their strategies for self-advocacy.

The speakers end the webinar with an interactive exercise: create and upload your best advocacy or promotion pitch. While this exercise is no longer live, this provides viewers a good template for practicing self-advocacy. If you are someone who struggles with tasks like this, answer the following questions when trying to promote your accomplishments: Who are you? What did you do? Where did it go or take you? When did it happen? Why is it important? How did you do it?

Self-advocacy requires self-reflection and knowing how to highlight your skills and value within a company or team. This can be difficult, but it is a skill that can be grown through practice. When people advocate for themselves and can pursue their goals it ultimately leads to better work environments with happier and more productive team players.