Feiyang Chen graduated with a Doctoral Degree in Polymer Chemistry in 2020 and went on to secure employment with UConn Health Connecticut Convergence Institute as a researcher. Read on below to learn about her journey from her academic years to full-time employment.
UConn Teaches Skills Beyond the Classroom
When asked about something learned during her academic program that she currently uses in the workforce, Feiyang responded, “the Ph.D. program not only trains you to be an expert in one field, but it also trains you to learn and explore a new field.” Feiyang explained that her “ability to do literature reviews and seek out resources to continue educating myself on a new field is the same skill I used in graduate school.” She went on to further say that she is not afraid to explore a new field because she has done it once before.
Internships Can Lead to Career Path
Feiyang’s internship helped her find her current position. “While an internship is not required for landing a position, it is still helpful in many ways. It helps in identifying a career path as it allows you to see the real-world problem that people are trying to solve rather than only the problems that interest you. It also helps you realize what specific skill sets you need to get in the field that you want to join in the future, and you will have time to do so before looking for an actual job.”
Finding Unlisted Positions
Employers do not always list positions. Feiyang found her position through networking with a friend who graduated from UConn. She explained, “Many positions are not listed on websites and it is helpful to engage in networking and conversation with people in the field that you are interested in.”
She mentioned that networking during her internship resulted in a connection to her current position. “the soft skill such as networking has been very helpful for getting my current job. Through my internship at Saint Gobain North America – Tap Solution Group, I had many opportunities to get out of my comfort zone and talk to people from different fields. Through conversations, I expressed my interest in pharmaceutical companies. People guided me on what kind of research I could contribute to within pharmaceutical companies as a polymer chemist. Eventually, one of the conversations helped me land the position I am at now.”
Overcoming Frustrations to Persevere
Feiyang discussed roadblocks faced throughout school and career preparation and she explained how to handle frustrations. She shared the following advice: “when you get frustrated by roadblocks, it is helpful to just leave the problem aside for a few days before you come back and revisit the problem. It sounds cliché to say this, but this is the first step to take before arriving at the actual solution to each problem. Because sometimes we can’t solve a problem not because we are not capable of solving a problem, it is because we are fixed in one way of thinking.”
Career Resources Utilized
Feiyang met with a Career Consultant at UConn on various occasions to discuss the following:
- Resume review
- Applying for internships
- Building a LinkedIn profile
- Interview preparation – specifically how to prepare for a video interview