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Advice for emerging professionals

  • 1.  Advice for emerging professionals

    ASM Employee
    Posted 01-21-2020 13:13

    What advice would you give to someone starting out in materials?

    Carrie Hawk
    ASM International
    Community Engagement Specialist


  • 2.  RE: Advice for emerging professionals

    IMS Board Vice President
    Posted 01-22-2020 11:26
    That's a great question Carrie.
    There's such a wide variety of roles and potential careers within the Materials Science community that it's a great opportunity to find one that really excites you!
    I'd recommend joining in with ASM and affiliate events - local Chapter meetings and IMAT for instance.  Discover the variety of companies and subject areas, make contacts and talk to people!

    Michael Keeble
    Buehler a Division of ITW
    Lake Bluff IL
    (847) 393-3645

  • 3.  RE: Advice for emerging professionals

    Detroit Chapter Admin
    Posted 01-22-2020 11:27
    I would work on getting some hands-on experience in a lab or industrial setting and make sure you like working with "materials" and if possible which materials are the most interesting to you, then focus you studies on those materials, and network at events related to those materials. Also, join a technical society, e.g., ASM, early in your career and commit to sticking with it, attending local and national events, and volunteering within the society. It's amazing how friendly people are when you volunteer to help out and you will make and develop some great networks and relationships.

    Mark Harper
    Intellectual Property Attorney
    Burris Law, PPLC
    (313) 393-5400

  • 4.  RE: Advice for emerging professionals

    Posted 01-23-2020 07:46
    This is a question that all ASM International members should keep in their minds, whether it be members with established careers or emerging professionals.  Emerging professionals are the future of our organization and those who will continue our career's passion into the future.  There's a lot of room for growth in the field so I am excited to see the interest in developing our emerging members!

    Though I'm still in the process of emerging as a professional within the community I think I can offer a couple pieces of advice for those like me:
    1. Prioritize your development, both professional and personal!  Rarely will anyone else do that for you.
    2. Build and cultivate a strong network inside and outside your field of expertise.  Sometimes that's as simple as introducing yourself to someone you don't know and having a conversation - you never know when that simple contact might be useful down the road.
    These two are just a start, and I'm certain that other members will also provide great advice.

    As an aside, the ASM International Emerging Professionals Committee has been set up to help develop emerging professionals to be future leaders within ASM and to serve the emerging professionals community.  For the emerging professionals reading this, the committee is currently accepting applications (here) - we would love to have you apply!  Along with that, feel free to reach out to me with any questions or comments about how ASM or the Emerging Professionals Committee can better serve individuals like yourself.

    I look forward to seeing all the other great advice our members have for emerging professionals!

    Andrew Frerichs
    Materials Scientist
    Co-Chair of ASMI Emerging Professionals Committee

  • 5.  RE: Advice for emerging professionals

    Posted 01-27-2020 07:54

    This is a timeless question and of course there are many great answers as evidenced in the replies above. I would add that an emerging professional must be aware of the vast amount of opportunities within the materials science field and beyond!

    Most in this community are certainly aware of more traditional paths such as working in an industrial plant on materials and processes or as a researcher in a government lab. However, there are a vast amount of other opportunities available outside fo these traditional paths.

    These paths may include opportunities such as:
    1. Consulting (i.e. Exponent on the more technical side or Deloitte on the more business side)
    2. Intellectual Property Attorney/Patent Agent
    3. Congressional fellow (check out the TMS/MRS Congressional Fellowship if you are finishing a PhD and interested here!)
    4. Professional Witness Work
    5. Many, many more...

    The point I would make in summary is that there are numerous opportunities in today's world. As an emerging professional, take the time to look forward 5-10 years to see what job you could see yourself in and do not limit yourself until you find yourself at a place where that vision can become a reality.

    Jonathan Healy
    Materials Engineer
    Naval Surface Warfare Center - Carderock
    Washington DC
    (716) 487-6245

  • 6.  RE: Advice for emerging professionals

    Posted 01-29-2020 07:53
    These are all great answers.  I will say that long ago (pre-Web) when I was starting out with degree in hand, I _still_ didn't know exactly what area I was going to work in as it depended on what jobs were available, who was interviewing at my college, etc.  I was fortunate enough to end up in a job that seemed to fit me very well.  Metallurgy/materials has only broadened since then of course!

    There are some other great comments in this document which is the middle school/high school directed interviews that ASMI is publishing for materials career seekers, of which I was fortunate enough to be selected as an interviewee.  or search at

    Paul Tibbals

  • 7.  RE: Advice for emerging professionals

    Posted 05-05-2021 10:59
    Here is my advice for someone starting out in materials.
    1. If possible, get a degree in materials engineering.  It will open up more doors and possibilities than a science degree.
    2. Look for a position that involves hands on laboratory or field work to start your career.  This experience will be of benefit throughout your career.
    3. Get involved with failure analysis.  It's an exciting and rewarding field that makes the world a better place.

    Ronald Parrington
    Director of Industrial Services
    (607) 342-3103

  • 8.  RE: Advice for emerging professionals

    Posted 05-06-2021 02:37
    My advice to anyone contemplating their future is always the same: find your passion and embrace every opportunity to learn.

    I am extremely biased because my passion has been in the world of materials, so I agree with Ron that pursuing an education in the field is a good move. So, if you are interested in the science of materials and have an aptitude in engineering, an MSE degree and work in failure analysis (where both Ron and I have our passion) is a good path. However, there are several other paths, both in and out of the MSE arena, that can be equally rewarding.

    The second bit of advice is to find a community in whatever field you pursue. ASM is a community in the materials field that has been invaluable to me. From the mentoring and networking at the local chapter meetings when I was young to the collaborations that I enjoy now (including with Ron Parrington on occasion).

    And finally, don't forget to give back to your to your community. Whether ASM or otherwise, I believe that you will get back more than you give. I know that I have.

  • 9.  RE: Advice for emerging professionals

    Ontario Chapter Admin
    Posted 05-10-2021 14:32

    My advice to someone starting out in the field:

    Maintain the contacts and connections you made up to this point in your career. The materials community is a small one and so you will often find times where you reconnect with someone you met at a past event or engagement. These past interactions can be the spark new collaborations, job opportunities or ideas.

    Periodically skim notable journals in your field for what topics are mentioned beyond those of which are directly in your field. This can lead you to see what topics are of emerging interest and give you ideas on where opportunities exist.

    Share what you are currently working on with other researchers as you will often find commonalities and overlaps with others as well as opportunities for support and input.

    Abdallah Elsayed
    Assistant Professor
    University of Guelph
    (647) 896-0651

  • 10.  RE: Advice for emerging professionals

    Posted 08-04-2021 14:58
    Don't be afraid to ask questions and………………… don't be afraid to make mistakes!

    Stephen Kowalski
    Kowalski Heat Treating
    Cleveland OH
    (216) 631-4411

  • 11.  RE: Advice for emerging professionals

    Posted 08-05-2021 14:40
    Don't be a jerk, and don't piss people off without a very good reason.   This is a small field and I can probably get a verbal assessment of you with two phone calls or emails to my ASM network if I'm considering interviewing you.    It took me a while as a young engineer to figure out that engineering is a team sport and you win bigger as part of the team.    

  • 12.  RE: Advice for emerging professionals

    Posted 08-05-2021 09:32

    For the budding materials scientist... remember that every company needs to utilize materials. They are at the core of everything. Stay connected in the materials community and you will go far!

    James Ritchey
    Innovation Director-Global Services
    Norwood MA
    (781) 929-2866

  • 13.  RE: Advice for emerging professionals

    Kansas Chapter Admin
    Posted 08-05-2021 15:47
    I would recommend that as a high school or college student that you take as many laboratory, industrial, or factory tours as possible.  See what technologies excite you and see what manufacturing is all about. Media seems to think that manufacturing is a dirty word, and high school counselors think manufacturing is one step above hauling trash. 
    There are lots on new technologies in manufacturing that did not exist when I started out 35+ years ago.
    I would still recommend that any young materials engineering professionals taking as many plant tours as possible to under stand how things are machined, stamped, heat treated, etc. and manufactured and what types of things they have in the control plans to produce consistent parts and assemblies.  They may track variables that you or your company had not thought about.

    Patrick Mizik
    ASM Chapter Council District 11 Rep
    Principal Metallurgical Engineer

  • 14.  RE: Advice for emerging professionals

    SMST Board Member
    Posted 08-17-2021 08:03

    My advice would likely be more useful to those considering graduate school. My experience has been focused on continuing my education through a 1-year acceleration program to receive a Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering after my bachelors. Based on my experience, I decided that continuing for a Ph.D. was the best choice. The professional relationships that formed and grew during the years had proved to open doors that I never imagined to be possible. My mentors, my peers, the techs shared the weight to achieve our goals in producing quality work and I found that inspirational. I had doubts along the way, but I pushed them aside, and we continued to make progress. My advice is to continue with graduate school if you love research and love to pass the knowledge forward. Achieving a higher education affects more than only you; there's your mentor, the people at home, and undergraduates looking for experience. If you're not sure, then celebrate your accomplishments, move forward and if the "itch" is still there then you can come back.

    For either path you take, remember to be the person you would want to work with.

    Faith Gantz
    University of North Texas
    Denton TX
    (208) 518-8336