Nine years of EMBL – what have I achieved?

Nine years is a long time. As my time here comes to an end, it’s as if I’m standing on the brink of a new era, standing on the clifftop looking out to sea and wondering what awaits me. I’m so eager to see what will come next, that looking over my shoulder to take stock of what I’ve done over the last few years seems more of an effort than leaping off that cliff edge.

After nine years at EMBL, I now finally feel I’ve gotten into the swing of things, finally found the ropes and know what I’m doing (sort of). It’s seems a shame to have to stop while the going’s good, but I’m ready to pack my achievements into my bags ready for the next leg of my journey.

I was (relatively) young and inexperienced when I joined EMBL. No-one really knew how I should fill the post of Scientific Training and Outreach Officer in Hamburg with life, so I took cues from those around me and little by little the job, and I, grew. I’m grateful for being able to shape the post around my strengths and abilities, making it my own as I went along. I’m a facilitator and connector – I see that now, and I think a lot of what I have achieved comes down to that. EMBL in Hamburg is now better connected to partners across the DESY campus and Hamburg, and I’d like to think I’ve had part in that. I am in regular contact with colleagues on the campus regarding networking and courses for our fellows, career events, gender equality discussions, outreach events and communication activities, and I try to build up those networks as much as I can. I’ve facilitated a better flow of information between Hamburg and the training and communication departments in Heidelberg, and made sure that activities are aligned where possible. I don’t know if it’s my personality, or grown from my job, but I often see where there is a missing link in the chain of thought or discussion, and try to amend that, guiding others – time permitting of course. Through my writing and photography I’ve increased the visibility of the Hamburg site to the EMBL community and beyond. Hopefully they agree, but I think my colleagues now trust me to present their science in an accurate but compelling way. I’ve had fun finding my niche and discovering and developing my skill set – all the time growing more confident in my abilities (still a long way to go, but relatively speaking!)

If nothing else, I hope I touched someone’s life along the way, helping them take that next step in their career. Helping them feel more confident about their writing, encouraging them to pursue an interest in science communication, helping them get their science out there, all of which might have led to new collaborations, opportunities and possibilities. That would be my greatest achievement.

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