Today's issue of Chemical and Engineering News has an article by Linda Wang that features the stories of 6 chemists and engineers who found themselves out of work and what they did with their time. (Our friend Daniel Levy is among them.) The common thread? Consulting or otherwise using that time to perform (unpaid) work towards their future employment goals. To wit:
When Ph.D. chemist Steven A. Weissman was laid off from Merck & Co. in 2008, he knew that it would take a while before he found a new job. “I was mentally prepared for a long-term search,” he says. “I had no illusions that it was going to be a one- or two-month thing.”
"Employers “can have a bias against people whom they perceive to be stale." After allowing himself two weeks to regroup, Weissman immediately got to work. He completed the Mini-MBA program at Rutgers, attended scientific meetings, read scientific publications, served as a coinventor on two patents with former colleagues from Merck, and bolstered his online presence. “You definitely have to answer the question, ‘What have you done with your time in transition? What have you accomplished?’ ” In late 2009, Weissman was offered a job with Concert Pharmaceuticals in Lexington, Mass., where he is now associate director of process chemistry. [snip]
While Ph.D. chemist Paul Young was unemployed after being laid off from Nalco in 2001, he served as an adjunct professor at several colleges in the Chicago area. “My teenage son was making more from his part-time job as a grocery cashier than I did from my part-time job teaching college chemistry,” he recalls. But the experience helped him improve his presentation and public speaking skills. He also kept his mind sharp. “There’s a lot of creativity in teaching when you’re trying to figure out the answer to a good question,” he says.
During this period, Young also consulted for St. Michael, Minn.-based U.S. Water Services, which provides water treatment services, and it was this work that eventually led to his current full-time position with the company.Well, I suppose that's something to remember for unemployed chemists -- on top of searching for a job, you need to try to stay current in your field. Best wishes to all of us.