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).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reflections on Job Hunting

Well, it's been exactly 2 weeks since I first got the word about my job status. Since then, I've been sending out resumes, talking to headhunters, scouring the web for job openings in the Detroit area, and networking with people I know. If I didn't have to worry about the future of my family, this would be a pretty exciting time. Surprisingly, I'm fairly upbeat about the whole thing although that might change in a few months if nothing happens. If you've read the intro to this blog, you'll know that I wasn't very happy with the way work had been going. Very little science and even less chemistry. If I land a new job and I'm doing real chemistry again, at roughly the same salary, and without having to move -- it's quite possible this will all have been a blessing. But that's just the optimist in me talking. Or the beer. Not sure which.

Even more surprising is the lack of bitterness over my situation. If the company had been doing well and had just decided to let me go, I'm sure it would be different. But the company is in trouble. Deep trouble. I've never mentioned this before, but my company has been in chapter 11 bankruptcy for about 2 years now. Now originally this was done to allow the company a chance to reorganize itself and shed itself of some money losing contracts and business units. At the time, the future of the company was looking pretty rosy, assuming you were one of the employees who made it through the transition. However, negotiations with labor and the parent company took too long and my company didn't make it out of bankruptcy before the credit crunch hit, and things started going downhill.

As a result, the company was forced to make another round of cuts, much more drastic this time. In this last purge, a lot of really good people were cut. Some of them high performance types who I never would have thought would be released. So my ego didn't take a huge hit. It had nothing to do with performance, but with the job description. Had I started working in the electrochemical sensor group a few months earlier, it might have been someone else in our group who got tapped. So knowing that helps a little.

For that matter, I may still be one of the lucky ones. The severance package is good and I'll be okay for a while. It's generally assumed that the next round of cuts, which might occur early next year based on the company's financials and the general financial state of the country, will have significantly smaller severance packages. At least I have a head start looking for a job in this area.

I was planning on actually discussing chemistry now, but it's late and I'd rather blow up some video game aliens before going to bed.


Anonymous said...

Cintact the ACS career services group. Get a career counsellor in your area to look over your resume, critique your interviewing skills, et cetera. It is free and also helps in netwotking.

Unknown said...

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