Steve Yannoulatos

What is your current position, and what do you do?
Student Support Manager, UNSW School of Chemistry.
I help administer the First Year Chemistry Program in the School, helping manage the online learning platform, and run assessment tasks. I provide advice for students and teaching support for academic staff. I help run outreach events, and I am the venue coordinator for the RACI National Titration  Competition.

What made you decide not to pursue a research career?
I’ve always had a passion for communications and education. My honours year was quite tough in many ways, but predominantly because I spent most of my time doing science in the lab and not enough time talking about science. So, once I graduated, I chose to pursue Science Communications instead of research and I’ve never looked back. I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for those who are passionate about research, but I discovered for myself that you don’t have to love doing scientific research to still love science.

How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?
After my Honours year at UNSW, I studied at ANU for a year to do my Graduate Diploma in Science Communications. I spent a lot of time working for Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre. It was from here that I broke into the world of being a Science Presenter. I spent a few years performing with (and, in later years, coordinating) an outreach program that travelled around Sydney, and toured the country presenting Science shows for schools and the general public. From there, I was keen to reconnect with tertiary-level science again. This conveniently brought me back to UNSW to my current role, where I am now able to help communicate more complex scientific concepts.

What are your interests outside of work?
I recently became a dad, so I’m currently passionate about re-learning all the old Play School songs. But, other than that, I’ve always been involved in amateur theatre companies and performance groups. It’s not only something that interests me, but I find having “artsy” hobbies provides a good balance to working in a predominantly “sciencey” headspace from 9 to 5. I'm also back as a part-time UNSW student completing my Masters of Education by Research which is equal parts for personal interest as it is career development.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?
Don’t stress too much over how your undergraduate coursework has/will determine your career path. If you choose subjects that interest you and motivate you to learn, your career will unfold organically from the skills and knowledge you pick up along the way.

Is there anything you would like to share?
Looking back, some of the most valuable career advice I was given was towards the end of my degree when I did a workshop on resume writing and job applications. It really showed me just how many skills I had been developing over my undergraduate degree and, more importantly, how to communicate these skills to prospective employers. A Science undergraduate at UNSW will equip you with such a huge number of skills that are transferable to a range of career paths, but it can be very difficult to articulate this while you are still studying. So, take advantage of support services on campus (such as the resume writing one or other career-readiness training workshops). They don’t take up too much time, and they can make all the difference in providing you the guidance and clarity you need to succeed beyond your studies.

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