Allison Dick, Ph.D.
Associate Projects Analyst
Chemical Abstracts Service
B.S., Chemistry, Wheaton College, IL
Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
When Allison Dick finished her post-doc, she first turned to the ACS Careers page for leads. However, she actually found her position with Chemical Abstracts Service through a friend who already worked at CAS. Now, she analyzes scientific literature and inputs pertinent information into the CAS databases for others to search. Part of her position also includes project oversight and assistance to management.
Dr. Dick likes the flexible schedule and the benefits, but she says her coworkers are the best part of her job. “We come from very diverse cultural and educational backgrounds, and, even though our work is usually solitary, people are generally willing to help others.”
Today, Dr. Dick has been with CAS for more than five years and is an associate projects analyst.
Having a particular order for things makes it easy to be both thorough and efficient.
Typical day on the job:
I spend about 50-70% of my time on information analysis and drawing chemical structures. About 10-20% of my time is spent training other analysts in our processes, and a small percentage on quality control, ensuring that others are providing accurate information to our databases. The rest of my time I assist with testing and documenting new software, solving problems that arise in the department, and aiding management with various projects. Meetings are a very small part of my position.
I work in a small office. It is not much larger than a cubicle, but it has a door, so it is easy to manage how much noise and traffic I deal with. I already mentioned that I can't live without two 24" monitors to do my work. Other than that, I have a pretty basic setup of computer, desk, a chair for visitors, and bookshelf space. I also can't live without my iPod dock for music. Although I do not share my office, I often travel to other parts of the building to consult other people in my department.
Salaried full-time employees are required to work 40 hours a week. Because of my project responsibilities, I generally put in a little bit more than this. In my department, we have flexible working hours, so I generally work between 9 or 9:30 a.m. and 6-7 p.m. Some of my colleagues prefer to come to work much earlier and leave earlier.
Tools you can’t live without:
Most of the software we use was developed here at CAS to meet our specific needs. I can't imagine doing my job without our dual 24" monitor setup, reliable internet, and good technical support. Additionally, I use Excel on a regular basis for reports, and Word and PowerPoint on occasion.
Best productivity trick:
When I analyze documents, I have a very specific routine that I follow that I rarely deviate from. Having a particular order for things makes it easy to be both thorough and efficient.
Best career advice you’ve received:
To focus on one task at a time and do it well, and not to get overwhelmed looking at the to-do list. Also to always work with integrity.
Skills or talents that make you a good fit for your job:
I am a very detail-oriented and conscientious worker. I am good at both time management and written communication.
Favorite ACS resource:
I enjoy the ACS Meetings. They are a great avenue for learning about the latest research and networking with others.