Last week I traveled from York to Birmingham to attend my first meeting with the Microbiology Society Early Career Microbiologist (ECM) executive committee (bit of a mouthful..!). I officially started as Communications Representative this month and other than a Skype conversation I was yet to meet the rest of the committee. I was a little apprehensive on the train journey down as meeting with new people is not something that I feel hugely comfortable with or am particularly good at but fortunately everyone was lovely and super easy to speak to.
The two things that came up repeatedly during the meeting were communication and networking, both of which are important personal skills and necessary considerations for the committee of a newly formed forum. Coincidentally two of my resolutions for this year are basically just that — to write more and to drag myself out of my comfort zone and mingle with sciencey crowds in a social setting.We felt that better communication was needed to explain to members what exactly the benefits are to joining the forum. I have found in my small gander into science writing that you can reach more people if you go in from multiple angles — blogs, newspapers, Twitter…it all counts. We are hoping to capitalise on several channels to help provide more information to the ECMs, with the website, Facebook and blogs all being possibilities. In terms of networking, we are planning a series of small events to try to bring early career researchers together in a semi-local place.
I got the opportunity to practise a bit after the meeting when we headed over to the JAM talks; seminars given by, and to, PhD students and post docs. The initiative is supported by the Microbiology Society and, judging by the size of the crowd, appears to be popular. We were greeted by large deli platters and bottles of wine and spent just short of an hour listening to some interesting science. Maybe I could get on board with networking after all…
You can read more about plans for the ECM Forum in May’s edition of Microbiology Today or look out for networking guides at the Annual Conference.