This blog is my attempt to reconnect with the world of chemistry. I have a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry and make a living doing research for a large company in Michigan. As times have changed, that company has changed its focus and I no longer have as much chance to do the basic, fundamental research which I most enjoy. Through this blog, I am hoping to recapture the magic which I felt during my graduate (and undergraduate) days in college. Expect topics on chemistry and alchemy along with some non-chemistry related items which I think might be interesting.

"The chymists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their pleasure among smoke and vapour, soot and flame, poisons and poverty; yet among all these evils I seem to live so sweetly that may I die if I would change places with the Persian King."

Johann Joachim Becher (phlogistonist)
Acta Laboratorii Chymica Monacensis, seu Physica Subterranea, (1669).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Enough is Enough!

OK, I think I've spent long enough away from this blog. Between the big lab move at work and working on my resume at night, I've managed to avoid updating this blog for far too long. Yes, the company still wants me to be responsible for making sure the move to our new labs (as well as various aspects of its construction) goes without a hitch, even though I will probably not be around long enough to actually occupy the new lab site. It's tempting to just say "the hell with it" and let someone else work out all the kinks after I'm gone, but I am good friends with some of the people who are going to be occupying the lab and I have no desire to leave them in the lurch. (I'm sure I will never use the work "lurch" again in my lifetime). It is kind of strange though. I'm one of the few chemists they have left in the division and so it's hard to say how much of the new lab will actually be utilized once I'm gone. But the company has much bigger problems to solve, so I suspect this is a rather minor concern for upper management.

I've begun the process of networking, which means meeting people I haven't talked to for a while and letting them know my situation. For example, on Tuesday, I attended my first Michigan Catalysis Society meeting in over a year. I had stopped going to them when I realized I wasn't really performing much science at work anymore. I had forgotten how much fun it can be to talk to other researchers in my field.

I talked to my first headhunter on Friday, and it was an interesting experience. When I finished my doctorate at Illinois, all I needed to do to find a job was to interview with the recruiters who came to the campus, so I've never had to go out and look for a job before. When you talk to a headhunter, you feel obligated to try and sell yourself to them even though they won't be the one to actually hire you and I found that to be a bit surreal. During the course of the interview, I also began to realize I really wasn't ready to describe myself to potential employers in a coherent fashion yet. I'm working on that now.

So besides being a place to discuss aspects of chemistry, this blog will also be an record of my attempts to find new employment. I hope that part of the blog ends rather quickly.


Gerhard said...

Lately a few of my professors have told me how hard it is to find a job as a chemist. Actually today my biochem professor told me that it is actually easier to get a job with a Master's than with a PhD. He said that he wasn't hired for his "dream" job because he had a PhD. This scares me. Then a new faculty told me he was unemployed for 9 months before being offered this job.
I am really worried because maybe i should have stuck with trying to go to medical school. Is this really the situation out there??

Good luck with your hunt!

The Chemist said...

If gerhard's right it scares the hell out of me too frankly.

Now it's got me googling like a madman for stats on job market saturation.

Is there a branch of chemistry that is always in demand?

Chemist Ken said...

In the companies in my area, computer modeling of chemical reactions seems to be the way to go. Who knows what will be the big thing in 4 or 5 years?

Anonymous said...

You cannot predict most job trends as far as specific knowledge. It takes too long to learn while the changing needs of companies alters quickly. If you have a strong chemical foundation and are adaptive, you'll find things, but the basic, boring and mundane low-level jobs - like research associate - are always more likely to find people. Drudgery takes few skills.