A Fantastic List of Alternative Chemistry Careers…and Our Contribution to It

Hello Everyone,

In honor of National Chemistry Week, See Arr Oh, who blogs about chemistry at Just Like Cooking, has asked chemistry bloggers to write about their chemistry backgrounds and experiences and tweet their posts under #chemcoach. We encourage you to check out the careers of over 40 science bloggers, and maybe fill out an entry yourself. In that spirit, here is the entry for Chris “Ziggy” Zeigler, one of the editors of this blog.

My current job:
Education Associate with the American Chemical Society’s Undergraduate Programs Office

What I do in a standard “work day”:
Ha, a “standard work day”.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those.

My job is part customer service, part administration, part editor, and part salesman. I administer our student chapter grants, recruit writers for this blog, manage our Facebook and Twitter accounts, recruit schools to host Regional Meeting Programming, plan Undergraduate National Meeting Programming, create chemical demonstration videos, assist Faculty Advisors with questions, and perform miscellaneous work to improve, create, and distribute Student Chapter Resources to ACS Student Chapters. I am never 100% sure what I’m going to do each day, and that’s half the fun.

What kind of schooling / training / experience helped me get there?:
I started as a chemistry undergraduate, because I loved the subject and performing chemistry demonstrations, but for whatever reason I didn’t enjoy working in the lab. I knew graduate school in chemistry wasn’t for me, and since I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do with my life, I went to work for an instrumentation company installing, teaching, and providing customer service on ion chromatography equipment. I enjoyed the interaction with customers, but during that time I decided to pursue a second degree in Divinity in order to become a pastor, mainly due to work I did on the side with the homeless. I earned my MDiv, and emerged from graduate school unable to find a pastorate, so I went to work for a custom chemical manufacturer as a sales person. I left that job because my wife found work in DC, and I came across the American Chemical Society while looking for chemistry work in DC. It turns out, in my current position at ACS I use the writing skills from Divinity school, as well as my customer service and sales experience. So, providentially, I’m making full use of my skill set!

How does chemistry inform my work?
The field of chemical education and research has its own culture and language.  Reaching out to students and faculty members to see how I can help them and understand what we can do better isn’t always easy, but keeping up my lingo and understanding their problems helps me find solutions.  So chemistry doesn’t just inform my work- it created the environment in which I work.

A unique, interesting, or funny anecdote about my career:
My first boss, who taught me most of what I know about working in industry, was a linebacker for the Buffalo Bills. It just goes to show you, you meet some amazing people in life.

Also, once while traveling, I met someone on an airplane who told me how I could meet Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee, creator of characters such as Spider Man and the X-Men, and so I did just that. A job where you travel has its benefits, like meeting the man who created many of my childhood heroes.

Chris “Ziggy” Zeigler & Stan Lee

Stop by and see the full list of chemists and their careers!

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