Having had to punch cards at a computer lab to run simple computer programs in college, I truly appreciate both the personal computer and the internet. But it amazes me that many of those born into the generation of unlimited information don’t utilize the tools available to them.
The advice here is for the coatings industry, but most facets are applicable to other industries. Even as young as college-age, if you’ve decided on a profession, there are many ways to jumpstart your career and leverage the tools available to you.
LinkedIn is an excellent professional social media site for:
- Networking with others in your field.
- Finding a mentor or coach for your career.
- Learning from those with experience by joining groups.
- Finding job opportunities by following companies
- Getting noticed by recruiters.
You can ask questions and join groups that are ancillary to your industry. If coatings (paint) is your focus, markets utilizing similar materials to paints include Household, Industrial and Institutional Cleaners (HI&I), Personal Care, Adhesives, Sealants and Construction Products, etc.. Over the years, companies have learned to develop products for multiple markets, but sometimes you can still find a technological gems that you can leverage from another industry into your own. This could mean an application patent and peer recognition.
Other Helpful Tools & Resources
FreshPatents.com is an excellent method to track market developments as well as competitive activities. You choose the keywords to monitor. These could be a company’s name, a technology (such as solar, biopolymers, corrosion), an institution or name. You receive an alert for patent applications with those keywords.
FreePatentsOnline.com is a much more versatile and complete site vs. using the USPTO, since you can also search non-patent literature and patents filed other than in the US. Derwent World Patents Index is a great site, but comes with a price that the other two do not have.
Available digitally, journals may be the best way to learn and develop your expertise. Most journals contain a section on trade shows and conferences, so you can plan ahead for budgeting these with your manager. They also often highlight a specific aspect of your industry – raw materials such as resins, additives, pigments, or the annual “Top #” paint companies by sales and volume. You can monitor people movement, company name changes and a host of other activities, besides many outstanding peer-reviewed technical papers.
These are my favorite journals, but there are many, many more. And if you are in a specific market (such as Oil & Gas), there are periodicals for them as well:
Conferences and Trade shows
Conferences and trade shows are good places to both learn and network. The ACA show takes place in the U.S. every other year (next is 2016 in Indianapolis), and holds an exhibition in Europe in the odd years. There are also many technical symposia with varied value as far as their content and the cost to attend. Most local coatings societies (example: Cleveland Coatings Society) provide a technical dinner program during the fall and winter, typically on a monthly basis with just one speaker. In the spring, there may be an “outing,” which is more social, but may provide some technical content. These meetings offer both learning opportunities and the chance to network with others in your geographical location, which could be useful for a job change but is best for getting known.
If you have a technical sales role with your company, you can get on the local society’s schedule for a dinner meeting and work in customer calls around that dinner. Similarly, as an attendee, many topics are presented at multiple society meetings or spring “conferences,” so you need attend only one to hear the content once.
The views, opinions and technical analyses presented here are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of UL, ULProspector.com or Knowledge.ULProspector.com. While the editors of this site make every effort to verify the accuracy of its content, we assume no responsibility for errors made by the author, editorial staff or any other contributor. All content is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without prior authorization from Prospector.