Alice - The EYCN and the Power of Networking
Alice Soldá is the former chair of the European Young Chemists´ Network (EYCN). In our networks@Evonik blog, she not only talks about the EYCN and her tasks as chair but also about the reason why it is so important to network.
my name is Alice and I am happy to tell you about the European Young Chemists´ Network (EYCN) that Evonik is sponsoring. From May 2017 to March 2019, I was chair of EYCN, the young division of the European Chemical Societies (EuChemS), which is a motivated team of young scientists from 27 European countries and 29 European Societies, counting around 40 official delegates, representing and supporting more than 45.000 early career chemists all across Europe. The aim of EYCN is to provide development and networking opportunities to early career chemists across Europe with many projects and activities. In addition, we want to improve the visibility of chemistry and bring it closer to a wider audience and to people from outside the research field - including schools, partners in industry, business, and management. Our activities and actions build on the voluntary work of many young chemists, and sometimes, it is not easy to combine these duties with the daily life of research work or private activities.
However, I always truly believed in education, research and networking, and every day I sought new challenges to help people and to give my support in shaping a more sustainable future. Additionally, I am also a very extroverted young chemist, enthusiastic and proactive. So, the work at EYCN was perfect for someone like me. During my time as chair, I really worked hard in order to give a better structure to EYCN and, in retrospective, I am very proud of the achievements of my tenure.
The secret is passion. I always tried to give a good example by, e.g., recognizing the work of each of my team, supporting their ideas and projects and helping them to finalize it. In addition, nowadays the power of social media cannot be ignored. Thus, EYCN spent a lot of time to strengthen its visibility through social media, because I really think that communication is a key point. Therefore, listening to the opinion of others is crucial in teambuilding. Since the beginning, I tried to create a group of friends more than a simple working team. If you think about it, this way of working is just more fun and twice as rewarding because you are sharing your joy.
In the last years, more than 30 initiatives were coordinated or supported by the EYCN at a global level, in Europe and abroad. Among these, more than 20 conferences were sponsored and around 30 young chemists were awarded prizes for their outstanding scientific contributions. Moreover, the EYCN widely advertised and received positive feedback from a large community of chemists for its photography contests ‘Photochimica’ and the video contest ‘Chemistry Rediscovered – In your element’. All of these events and projects, which simply would not have taken place without the fruitful partnership with Evonik Industries, have allowed EYCN to publicize the strong support received by Evonik, not only during the events but also through active Social Network advertisement. In Evonik, the EYCN found a great partner and supporter, which trusted on our young network and our activities since our very beginning, and in return this very positive support has been strongly advertising to a large number of scientist of broad chemical background.
As a network of young chemists, we are always facing difficulties in funding, and thus realizing our projects. Therefore, the support of Evonik Industries, since 2015, is a big gift to us. The fact that Evonik is partnering with EYCN after so many years means that we are working in the right direction and we will keep doing it for a better future! In addition, one representative of Evonik is always invited to attend the annual meeting of the EYCN delegates (DA) in which we kindly ask to talk about some selected topic in order to understand and get closer to the industry world.
The EYCN and other networks are a great way to improve your skills and to meet new people. Nowadays, networking is fundamental! you can make great science but if you are not able to share with others you did not contribute to build a more sustainable future. Therefore, I strongly suggest to participate in events, to talk with people, even from other fields, and built your own network. The good company will have a good influence on you and you may find out more about yourself and your aspirations through this. There are two other tips that I would like to give you which I think are of importance: “seek opportunities, do not wait for them” and “be always passionate and curious”.