Chemists in the Real World

Linda Wang

 


Linda Wang,
 Senior Editor, Chemical & Engineering News

American Chemical Society
M.S., Science & Technology Journalism

 


Linda Wang has been an editor at Chemical & Engineering News, the membership magazine of the ACS, for ten years. She writes articles about ACS member activities, programs, and events — anything that might be of interest to the ACS membership at the national level. Her "Scenes from the National Meeting" photographic series has appeared in C&EN for many years. She also writes about employment and education issues.

After earning her bachelor's degree in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Wang attended graduate school at Texas A&M University, studying science and technology journalism. "I enjoy writing, and I'm good at it," she says. "I like to look at the big picture," she adds, explaining that lab research required her to narrow her focus too much for her liking.

She completed her master's degree in 2001, after which she became an assistant editor for the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The editor who hired her had also graduated from the science journalism program at A&M. Wang says, "I'll never know if having that connection gave me an edge in getting that position, but I'm sure it didn't hurt!"

In 2003, Wang saw a C&EN assistant editor's job posted in the National Association of Science Writers' job bulletin. Her father is a 50-year member of ACS, so she remembers seeing copies of C&EN around the house as she was growing up. Wang applied for and got the job, and she began work in the magazine's production group. Later, she began working in C&EN's ACS news and special features group, where she now works as a senior editor.

What is your major responsibility in your current position?

I'm primarily responsible for reporting and writing articles for C&EN, but I have been branching out to other forms of storytelling through photos, videos, multimedia projects, and even social networking. I also attend ACS national meetings, where I am responsible for putting together the meeting photo spread. It's a lot of fun engaging with other ACS members and finding out what's on their minds.

What's a typical day on the job like?

A typical day involves checking and responding to e-mails, doing internet research, interviewing sources for news and feature articles, grabbing lunch, attending meetings, transcribing interview tapes — oh, and writing!

Typically, how many days each month do you spend away from your workplace on travel?

I go to the ACS national meetings twice a year. Other than that, I do most of my reporting on the phone, from my office. I do sometimes interview local sources on-site

Are there any apps/software/instrumentation/tools that you can't live without?    

I spend a lot of my time on e-mails and phone calls, so I guess a computer, phone, and tape recorder are things I can't do my job without! I also use professional-quality camera, video, and sound recording equipment for multimedia work.

Describe your work environment.

I primarily work in the office, but I try to get out whenever I can because often my best ideas and stories come out of interacting with others.

Linda taking picture with clown

Does your job follow a typical 9-to-5 schedule?

I typically work 40 hours a week, sometimes more if I'm trying to meet a deadline. I am lucky in that I rarely need to work overtime. The environment can be fast-paced at times, but it is mostly relaxed, and I set my own pace. 

What do you like most about your job?

I like the flexibility of my job to come up with story ideas that interest me. I also like being able to help people with the work that I do. I feel that I can help job seekers with my reporting and writing.

What's your best productivity trick?

I have a things-to-do list, and I love checking things off.

What's the best career advice you've received?   

Moving forward is one step at a time! Also, diversify your skill set and keep your options open about where you want to work.

Do you have any special talents or traits that make you a great fit for your job?

I am an extrovert and I love interacting with people. I also love taking photos, which helps me in my job.

What essential habit do you have now that you wish you'd started much earlier?

After every interview, I ask people if there's anything I haven't asked. That often leads to interesting insights that I never thought to find out. Also, the best way to get people to talk is to be a good listener.

Is there anything else you would like to mention about your career?

If you're passionate about something, you'll find a way to succeed and make a living doing so.

What is your favorite ACS resource?

The people at ACS are what makes this such a great organization.