Typical day on the job:
During the first year there is a lot of training time. New examiners spend four months learning the legal and technical aspects of what is and is not patent-eligible. For the first few years, we work on actual patent examinations in a supervised environment.
A typical day starts out by getting a patent application to review, thoroughly analyzing it, and then searching for related technology. Throughout this time, there are discussions with colleagues and supervisors related to the patent application and technology at hand. Then I write up a report based on the final analysis. I generally work on one application at a time, but there may be some overlap due to the rapid nature of the examination process. Most cases are generally responded to within two or three days after first looking at it.
I work only in an office, and I share space with one other person. The work space mostly consists of a desk, drawers, and a computer with multiple monitors
A typical week is 40 hours. Currently, no overtime is required. The pace moves quickly, and the environment is geared toward flexibility and productivity.
I am not required to travel.
Tools you can’t live without:
I use Microsoft Word, Google, and in-house search engines. For the first level of analysis, I use the USPTO's specialized search tools. For the next level, I go to Google and journal publications. There are no restrictions on what search tools I can use, and I can look anywhere.
What you like most about your job:
I get to be at the cutting edge of technology. Even just starting, I'm in awe of the amount I've learned through the patent examining process. Doing a search is like solving a puzzle.
In graduate school, I was very focused on my area of research. I really enjoy pursing the breadth of knowledge available in the scientific community, and my current position is a very good place for that. Not only do I get to read about technology, I also get to learn a lot about the legal side, including the history of how the laws developed. I like that I can tie it all together and feel connected to the legal system.
Best productivity trick:
Just start somewhere. If the obvious starting place feels too hard, pick a different way to begin.
Skills or talents that make you a good fit for your job:
I have the ability to focus on the task at hand and enthusiasm for seeing what's next on the plate.
Essential habit you wish you’d started earlier:
I wish that I had developed the ability to take criticism or feedback constructively sooner.
Favorite ACS resource:
The webinars are great! I watch the ones on topics that pique my general interest; for example, beer brewing, flavor science, and vegetables. I also watch the ones that focus on career development.
I like going to the ACS National Meetings for both the seminars and the career development aspects. The recruiting booths and career development workshops are some of the great professional development resources provided at the ACS National Meetings.
How you've benefited from being an ACS member:
I attend meetings, read C&EN, and listen to webinars. I also like having access to the ACS journals. All of these have helped me on a personal and professional basis.