“When I finished my PhD, I had no clue what I wanted to do. I ended up taking a six-month postdoc at the University of Glasgow, and it was only then that I realised that academic life was not for me.
“I decided to go into industry and came across an advert for High Force Research. It was a completely different job to what I was doing previously, but I decided to apply and see what happened – and actually, it’s been great!”
Caitlin has now been working as a research and development chemist at High Force Research since 2019. The company collaborates with industry, discovery groups, start-up and academic spin-off companies in synthesising and analysing new materials for proof-of-concept, route evaluation and process development/scale-up, stability trials and toxicological studies. Day to day Caitlin works in the lab performing synthetic organic projects across various areas including pharmaceutical, agrochemical and diagnostics.
Every couple of months you work on something different, which keeps it interesting and allows you to learn a lot. I really enjoy it, and then I also have encouraging managers who are helping me explore the business management side.
In the next five years Caitlin would like to progress into a business development role. Her company has been very supportive of this aspiration and has organised for her to attend and run her own networking events.
Affiliated with the RSC since her days as a student, Caitlin now volunteers as an RSC representative in industry, meaning she manages the memberships for employees at her company.
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“I joined when I was a student, and the appeal for me was all the conferences and access to scientific papers. I’ve always tried to be involved as much as possible with what they’ve been doing, and so currently I’m the RSC representative at our company.
“As an RSC representative, I try and encourage as many people at High Force to sign up every year. I tell them about everything on offer – the scientific papers, events and careers consultations – because I know from experience how helpful they can be.”
Caitlin is currently looking to apply for Chartered Chemist (CChem) status alongside a few of her other colleagues.
At the moment there’s quite a lot of people – including myself – who want to use their memberships to do their Chartered Chemist (CChem), but we didn’t know where to start. I recently attended an online event that was super useful, and there’s another one next week to demystify the process and make it less overwhelming. They speak about how to apply your experience to the attributes, which is incredibly helpful
Having participated in RSC events for many years, Caitlin has found many opportunities to present work and network with others – something she now advises others to do from the minute they sign up.
The events – both past, present and in the future – are the most valuable thing about the RSC. When I first started going to events as a student, I was absolutely terrified to talk to anyone, but I forced myself to do it. Everyone is always so friendly, so it’s a nice way to break yourself into it and build in confidence as it goes on. A few years down the line you won’t think twice about talking to someone you have never met before.
“I think you get so much from the RSC in terms of resources and support. I’m in about 20 interest groups and a lot of the time their events coincide with things we have worked on or want to work on in the future. The resources help to give you an advantage – Chemistry World gets posted to you monthly and keeps you up to date with what’s happening around the world. And then there’s the papers and journals too!
“I’ll definitely continue my membership for many years to come. Everything they offer is really valuable, and everyone I’ve spoken to has been really friendly and helpful.”