Friday, November 11, 2011

Please, who are you and what do you want?

I've been meaning to do this for a while, so now's as good as a time as any. 

Readers, if you are willing, feel free to tell us in the comments about yourself. I'd like age range, education level, academia/industry, experience level and employment status would all be helpful. 

(Readers who do not usually comment, now is your time to make yourself known. I know you're out there, and it's such an honor to have you.) 

Also, is there anything you'd like to see covered more on the blog? Right now, my foci are The Layoff Project, job blogging, economy blogging and some chemical safety coverage. 

What do you think I am missing? What should I be covering? Thanks, and have a great weekend. 

Cheers, Chemjobber


  1. Is there any other buzzwords to put into the tag? :)

    BS in Chemistry
    Rounded of 11 years in industry, 2 years in academic service
    Lab tech, spectroscopist
    Employed for now.

  2. 29
    BA, MA in Chemistry
    4th year grad student (3 years in industry between undergrad and grad)
    In school, and hoping the pharmaceutical industry settles down a bit before I go back to the real world

  3. Age: 31

    Highest Education Level: PhD (organic)

    Current Employment: Industrial Scientist (2nd job, still working in lab)

    Prior Employment: Hired (miraculously) out of grad school; caught in mass layoff; unemployed for a few months; relocated for new job

    Future Plans: Considering leaving chemistry (I know, it's heartbreaking), but admittedly too chickensh!t to do so in this economy...

  4. 50
    Ph.D in Chemical Engineering
    21 years industrial experience
    Currently employed

  5. Long time reader, first time commenter.

    Ph.D Chemistry (organic)
    1st year in industry
    Currently employed after looking for a LONG time.

  6. Early 40's
    MS in organic
    18 years pharma experience with a short biotech stint thrown in there
    Currently employed in pharma. Have been laid off in the recent past.

    Future, unknown...

  7. 23
    BS in Chemistry with Bio emphasis
    3 months in industry
    Currently Employed

    I am really enjoying the Layoff Project articles.

  8. Age 30, PhD (synthetic organic), Disenfranchised 2nd year Postdoc at a top 10 organic program.

    Unsuccessfully looking for work in Pharma (stupid? naive?), however as it goes my boss is satisfied/impressed with my work and has offered to extend my contract when it is up in January. I am not excited about staying another year, but it sure beats the unemployment line.

    CJ, I think your current foci are great and I appreciate this site. I look forward to reading it (even though it can be depressing). If I had to add anything I would consider more posts with advice/commentary for students/postdocs.

  9. Age 31
    PhD, Postdoc (inorganic chemistry)
    recently acquired a position with big oil
    Industry experience as an undergrad

    have enjoyed reading this site on a daily basis. actually found my new job in the daily pump trap. applied through the company's website. miraculously got the job. appreciate everything you do here, and think the focus of the website is great!

  10. Age: 28
    Edu: PhD, Organic Chemistry
    Job: Academia (small, ugrad, liberal arts univ)
    Exp: 1.5 yrs
    Status: I'm in a contract year. I expect the contract to be renewed, but am on the market for other OChem teaching jobs at small, ugrad univs.

    Keep up the good work, CJ

  11. Age 22
    Graduating in May with a BS in Chemical Biology
    3 years academic research experience
    I really enjoy reading the "nontraditional careers in chemistry" section

  12. I'm 21 and graduating this spring with a BS in biochemistry. I like being aware of the difficulties that chemists encounter in the "real world."

  13. 31

    BS, Molecular Biology

    5 years as an analyst in environmental labs, running GCs, ICs, and WetChem

  14. Age: mid-30s
    Education: Ph.D., organic/medchem
    Employment: Science writer for nearly 10 years

    I think the blog is great. The Layoff Project has been particularly noteworthy, and I enjoy reading the thoughtful comments you get from readers. Keep up the good work.

  15. Regular reader, first time commenter
    32, MA organic
    8 yrs exp in small pharma med chem
    4 years at my first job, laid off as a result of being purchased by large pharma, 4 years at my current job. Currently employed, surprisingly, after 2 recent rounds of layoffs. I enjoy the blog, love med chem, but not very hopeful about future career prospects.

  16. Age: 41
    Education: M.S. in organic chemistry
    Experience: After 12 years working in pharma (big pharma and biotech), I switched to government / regulatory 2 years ago. I'm currently employed.

    I've enjoyed the Layoff project and the posts about the job market. I think the posts on alternative careers were very helpful - I wish they'd been around when I started my career.

  17. Thanks for your hard work!

    Age: 30
    PhD Materials Chemistry
    Employed at Biotech start up and adviser to chem department at my Alma Mater.

  18. Age:49
    Education: Ph.D Organic Chemistry (U.K.). Full cedentials are B.A., M.A. (Oxon), Ph.D. CChem MRSC.
    Currently employed in bulk chemicals manufacturing in mid-Atlantic region, but have spent most of my 22 year career in pharmaceuticals manufacturing as a process/development chemist, and had a short (1 year) spell teaching chemistry at a grammar school.
    I was laid off from my last "permanent" position in 2009, and did a variety of contract jobs (not all chemistry) before finding this position.
    I really enjoy your blog. Yours and Derek's blogs are the two I read without fail every day (I discovered your blog shortly after being laid off). Even though the news is often gloomy, it is a morale booster to know that someone is covering the situation, and is aware of and cares about the problems faced by chemists in the current economic environment. I think your Layoff project is a great idea, and I intend to contribute to it in the near future. I have enjoyed the interviews you've done in the past with chemists, and would like to see more of them.
    Keep up the great work!

  19. Paul, 42

    M.S. inorganic chemistry
    B.A. chemistry

    currently employed: 4.5 yrs electroplating job shop

    previous job:
    ~10 yrs "high tech" (lab tech) - voluntary severance

    never have turned down a job offer

    really like the blog

  20. 26
    MA Chemistry
    5th year PhD student in Biochemistry

    Hoping things get a little better before I graduate in a year or so...

  21. 33
    PhD, postdoc (bio-organic)
    3.5 years in industry for a small nano/biotech

  22. 28
    MSc, Org Chem
    2 years MedChem, site-wide layoff.
    Now running a product development (formulations / analytical development) group for a CRO.
    Here everyday, love the humour and stories. Keep up the good work!

  23. 37
    PhD (organic)
    6 years teaching at liberal arts college

    I think the blog has a nice niche that nobody else is really covering.

  24. 25
    PhD 2012 (expected), synthetic organic
    Graduate student

    Like the 'alternative careers' discussion, as well as reading the comments. I'm trying to figure out where I can get a job with more stability than pharma research.

  25. 37
    BSc. (Med Chem) PhD (Organic)
    3 years postdoc
    7 years industry - UK biotech and UK CRO.

    Currently a lab donkey at aforementioned CRO for a US based pharma [management to lab worker ratio ~ 1:2, god help us].

    Underpaid, overworked, under-appreciated.

    age range, education level, academia/industry, experience level and employment status would all be helpful

  26. Age: 24
    Currently: 3rd year grad student in a synthetic organic lab

    Used to think I would go in to industry, but more and more I'm looking at alternative careers.

  27. 22
    BS Chemistry. Minors math and religious studies.
    1.5 years TA for gen Chem 1 and topics in science(for arts and business majors.) labs

    Applying to grad schools/no idea what I want to do.

  28. As a young graduate student, I would love some advice on how and when to participate in certain "career milestones" so that I can at least be proactive about my job prospects later on. For instance, if I want to pursue an academic career, what should I be doing at certain points in graduate school, at what point should I start thinking about post-docs, when should I apply for them, and how should I go about finding them, etc, and how does this compare to an industrial route? Once graduate school is done, how can I put myself in the best position not to be unemployed? We see a lot of forecasting on this blog and a lot of "what to do after the fact," but I would find it really useful to have some perspective on how to pre-empt some of these issues.

  29. 31 yrs old
    Ph.D Organic Chemistry
    3 years postdoc in medicinal chemistry
    about to start new job in industry (not pharma, time to get out of that racket!)
    Love the blog!

  30. Age: 50 nanoseconds
    Ph.D. Organic Chemistry
    12 years industry experience in polymer chemistry
    Currently employed, same employer

  31. Age: 28
    Ph.D. in Materials Chemistry
    2nd year postdoc in Chemical Engineering
    On job market for academic positions in Chem/ChemE/MatSci

    This is a great blog. We all really appreciate your time to keep it updated so frequently. I wouldn't change anything.

  32. Early 30s
    Masters Chemistry
    10 years experience in industry
    Survived decimating cull recently, so employed for now
    Layoff project is very good. Enjoy Process Wednesday, probably because that's my area. I'm with someone above - yours and Derek's are the two chem blogs I read daily, so the formula must be good!

  33. 29
    MS Chemistry (organic)
    Currently employed 3 years CRO (first job)
    Process chemistry

  34. CJ: I already commented above. Anyway, doesn't it feel great to have such a large and dedicated following? Keep up the good work! Maybe have more tangible examples (including interviews) of ex-chemists who've successfully found alternate careers.

  35. MB: Those are excellent suggestions and I will see if I can work on them in the coming weeks. (I confess that I have let some of my academically-oriented posts drop recently.)

    UI: You'll note that I said 'age range'. ;)

    A3:21: Thanks for the very kind words. I am terribly honored to have as many intelligent and knowledgeable readers as I do.

  36. 30
    MS synthetic chemistry
    MBA in progress
    5 years industry
    1 layoff
    Currently employed.
    Employer starting long reorg.

  37. @CJ: I apologize in advance for going on a tangent, but you've got to read this:

    "Penn State Names Merck’s Frazier Head of Investigative Team" [for the recent abuse scandal]

    November 11, 2011, 4:18 PM EST

    As if the Merck employees don't have enough to worry about, why did the executive board allow the CEO to associate himself (and, by proxy, the company) with this ABOMINATION? I presume that PSU could've nominated any alumnus laywer, especially one who's not "trying to save" a declining Big Pharma company. Anyway, there's speculation that Frazier's role in mitigating damages during the Vioxx debacle may have encouraged the PSU Trustees to select him for similar damage control.

    Sad for the victims, sad for PSU, and sad for Merck...

  38. "If you are paranoid, you know who we are and what we want; please stay on the line and we will trace your phone number momentarily."

    42, MS orgchem, industry 10y + academia 7y, 2 layoffs, currently biopolymer process R&D at a small biotech

  39. Viva el milkshake! Viva el chemjobber!

  40. 50 something
    PH.D. Inorganic Chemistry
    20+ years Polymer Industry R&D
    Still employed!

  41. Age: 50's
    Edu: PhD, Organic Chemistry
    Job: Pharma, Process
    Exp: 15 yrs
    Status: employed for now, looking to change career

  42. Readers, please continue to write in! I just wanted to say how these comments have brightened what was not such a great day (fairly trivial issue, really.)

  43. Age: (under 18)
    Education: Junior pursuing B.S. in Biochemistry
    Research Experience: Winter 2011-present in drug delivery.

    Thank you for this blog!

  44. Applying to grad schools/no idea what I want to do.

    This is a scary statement. Somebody has been to this blog and undoubtedly seen the discussions on oversupply of Ph.Ds and why grad school in the sciences is declining in value. Yet they're still applying to school without any clear career path; just going for the sake of going.

  45. @5:01am
    IMHO many who have PhDs got them a similar way. Many overachievers apply to grad schools in the sciences, because that is 'what is next.' I did.

    This trend will continue, as it is becoming harder to find jobs... Therefore more US students will prolong the job hunt by delaying it with graduate school.

    If you want to see change you need to write your congressman/Obama. Have your fellow classmates write their congressmen. Explain to congress/Obama that their is NO shortage of scientists and engineers in this country. Policies which focus on advanced education are compounding the problem. If Congress really wants to fix the problem they need to nurture scientific start up companies. Instead they are icreasing corporate/small business taxes and getting trillions in debt which accelerates the transfer of jobs to developing countries. (Increasing individual taxes is probably needed in the US, unfortunately). If your congressman cites a CEO/CTO/VP/etc. who claims that there is a shortage of young Americans who are interested in science, tell them that this person is only trying to lower wages by flooding the US education system. Explain to your congressman that they need to increase demand of scientists in this country not supply. Tell them you want to see Full Time jobs in career sites of major scientific companies in the US not just contract and internship work. Tell them if you put in the time and energy to pursue a degree in science, you should be compensated with stability and wages suitable to your efforts.

  46. This is like the "age/sex check" from the old AOL chat rooms.

    31/bio-organic/postdoc/going on academic market next fall

  47. age range: 45-54
    education level: BS Chemistry + graduate level courses (almost a masters but then life got in the way)
    academia/industry: Industry- pharma
    experience level: 20+ years, the last 8 at a PhD level position
    employment status: unemployed since April. Recently snagged a couple collaborations with 2 universities but there's very little money so I will be living off unemployment for awhile longer.

    My impression is that there is plenty of work, a lot of projects with not one working on them and that there are plenty of people who are qualified to to these jobs. But the money has been sucked out of the marketplace. In academia, the money has been subjected to politics. In industry, tne MBAs seem to be forcing us into such a state of desperation that we will take absolutely any thing, even at a substantial pay cut and no benefits. In other words, the employment situation is artificial. And I don't believe that STEM workers in China are going to do any better than we did. It will take just as long if not longer to produce drugs. But the glamour of the chinese chemist will not wear off for awhile yet. They'll be cheaper but the patents will still run dry before there are any replacements.
    It's a shame, really. In the past year of work, I had a great project, plenty of work (in fact overwork) and felt like I was making a lot of progress all of the sudden. It was all ripped out from under me for no reason but beancounting. Their loss.

  48. Age: 25
    Education: B.Sc. Chemistry (w/ACS Cert.)
    Job: Research Laboratory Technician
    Industry: Materials Characterization/Analytical Chemistry
    Experience: 2 years
    Offers Rescinded: 1 (pretty much like a layoff)
    Status: Currently employed in the jewelry industry since July 2011, looking for a grad program for materials science/chemistry. If anyone has any pointers on finding a grad school please respond!

  49. age: 24
    1st year in grad school-synthetic organic
    would like to hear more about finding jobs outside of US(like singapore, australia,...)both in industry and academia. Thanks

  50. @3:31pm -
    shouldn't be hard to find a position in Singapore (Australia may be tougher). Just look at any multi-national chemistry company career website. Word of caution though - don't expect to make more than what you could here at a job you could get out of high school.

  51. age: 36
    degree: Ph.D. in chemistry
    experience: 7 years as a postdoc in 2 different labs; one was in chemistry, one was in biology
    status: currently unemployed

    Chemjobber - Thank you for continuing to make this blog such a great resource! I regularly follow your posts, and have found the Layoff Project series informative.

  52. 23
    grad student
    PhD 2013 (expected), synthetic organic chemistry

    also it would be intersting to read about finding a postdoc position

  53. 33
    2nd year postdoc in medicinal chemistry at academic institute (3 yrs. industrial experience before grad school)
    Employed, looking for academic (and industrial) positions

  54. @BethE, CJ:
    Perhaps "Consumer Market Knowledge" would be another applicable buzz word.

  55. Age: 35
    Education: Ph.D.
    Experience: 2 years at a CRO after undergrad, 5 years at a small biopharmaceutical company
    Current Position: Senior Scientist
    currently employed
    (have tried to post in the past, but the SPAM monster ate them)

  56. A2:56: If it eats more comments, e-mail me at chemjobber -at- gmaildotcom, let me know and I'll fish it out.

  57. 40
    MS in Chemistry (organic with atypical emphasis and not all that much synthesis).
    Now work in chemical information (only job for last 14 years) - hired out of grad school after a lot of applications.
    In general, feel that probability of being unemployed is low but that the potential hazard of being unemployed is high (mediocre-to-poor housing market, very few companies in my field, little lab experience), and not really sure how to mitigate (other than networking, which I do some). Interested in how other people deal with it (like the Layoff Project). No one else (or not many others, anyway) seems to be dealing with this part of being a chemist. Also looking for some sign of hope as to what people in the US will actually do - if we don't make things or ideas, what do we make? Service jobs don't work if no one has any money.

    A5:01 - My naivete entering graduate school was boundless (one of many reasons why I have only a MS). I thought going to chemistry grad school was the next thing, too - I had found a field that really interested me, and that would likely allow me to do things that could make my life, and those of others better, both by making money and by making useful things. No one thinks that they'll be the ones on the unemployment line, particularly if you've done well at what you faced before. I missed hints that I might have problems (I had some arrogance, but mostly I was clueless). I don't know if a lot of people are that way, but I was. The one thing that would have helped (working at a company before grad school to see what research is) is probably closed to a lot of people because of the job market and the outsourcing of entry-level jobs (since grad schools train them for you). It's easy to see how people might get tunnel vision about grad school. The only thing that might help would be internships in undergrad, but in a bad labor market, I don't know how eager companies would be to hire and train people in short-term stints, though other fields (engineering?) do it.

  58. 36
    Masters Chemistry
    10 years experience in industry, med chem

    On second employer, left 1st due to site closure. (spent about 5 year at ea.)

    Layoffs/reorgs have become an almost annual event nowadays - hoping this will change, but also realistic! We were referred to as "fixed cost" by two people last week...wondering how long it will take until we're all doing the Lilly model.

    Thanks for writing your blog! Alt career path discussions helpful - figure most related to chemistry in some way are swamped out by now with so many experienced unemployed chemists (and young people that can't get jobs in the field). Expanding the discussion would also be interesting - stuff that may be less obviously related to chem.

    Also enjoy the process wednesday. Don't have experience in that area - looking to improve my skills to become more efficient at making compounds of interest and avoiding delays due to route cleanup/tedious purifications when it is time to produce the Ames lots, etc. Easier to do it right the first time, just need to get better at this!

  59. Age: 29
    Education: Ph.D. (organic chem)
    Experience: 2 year post doc and custom synthesis consulting
    Current Position: post doc but soon to be looking for a job.

    I can not adequately describe how much I enjoy this blog. It it is wonderful to come to a place where one can find a sense of solidarity. I would very much enjoy more posts on gaining academic positions. I know I was surprise at the amount of work required (research proposals, teaching philosophy statement, etc.) for making such applications.

    It would also be great to hear about the placement of organic chemists in the biotech industry.

  60. Early 30s, PhD, a few agonizing years of big pharma straight out of school before escaping to technical business development. Currently employed. Love process Wednesday for a trip down memory lane. Thanks for such an interesting, well-written blog CJ keep up the great work

  61. Argh, and of course, I mess up in my post. Should have been 'Are' instead of is. I'll just go hide under my instrument.

    Oh and 'unique viewpoint synergy'.

  62. Late 20s/early30s, PhD from Tier 1 school (computational chemistry), 3 years on a well-regognized postdoc fellowship at a different Tier 1 school (doing bio-related simulations).

    Currently adjuncting for less money than my monthly rent payment, looking for any full-time position in academia or industry.

  63. Also, in many states, postdocs aren't eligible for unemployment when the funding runs out. Pretty depressing to spend half your life training for a job that doesn't exist and end up working for less than you were making in high school.

    Covering some alternate careers for a computational person would be great. I've tried applying for some programming jobs, but a PhD + postdoc with over a dozen publications scares people away. Maybe I should start listing past salaries on my CV for perspective.

  64. 48
    PhD in Organic Chemistry
    19+ years in Pharma/Diagnostics industry
    Employed, but as a molecular biologist.

    Love the blog.

  65. Stealing riverdaughter's format :-)

    age range: mid 30's
    education level: BS Biochemistry + graduate school (courses, teaching and research; almost a masters but then life got in the way) All research, graduate work and industy experience is synthetic organic chemistry.
    academia/industry: Industry- biotech (process chemistry)
    experience level: 10 years, all in one company
    employment status: Survived three rounds of layoff in my 10 years, the last of which was devastating from a chemistry prospective. Currently surviving day-to-day, hoping we keep chugging along.

    Love the Layoff Project! (But I loved the blog before that.) It's a good place to come to keep my mind opened to other oportunities releated to my field, but also to keep life in perspective. While some people have it better, some don't. It's also reassuring to know that I'm not alone in my doubts of job security and career security.

  66. 29 male
    5th (final) year PhD student in Chemistry (organometallic / materials)
    West Coast

    Starting the job hunt and a little nervous. Been checking out the site for about 3 months. Don't know if it's helped my confidence, but at least I'm more aware of various pitfalls that I hope to avoid!

  67. age: mid 30`s, located in Western Europe
    PhD in Organic Chemistry
    1 year U.S. post-doc (Organic Chemistry), 4 years process development at a mid-sized CMO, voluntarily switched jobs, now currently working at process research at one of the larger ag-chem companies for the last two years.

    I really enjoy reading your blog, especially the process wednesday entries. Greetings from across the big pond!

  68. Age: 38
    Education: PhD (biology), but still love reading your blog!
    Experience: ~ 12 years (big pharma and biotech most recently)
    Recovered from 1 layoff in big pharma, always keep my CV updated, talk to recruiters, and be ready for the axe to fall. Really enjoying the Layoff Project, should submit my own story!

  69. 31 years old PhD in organic/bioorganic chemistry. I've been teaching for going on 5 years at a small private 4 year college.

  70. Age: 32
    Education: PhD (Organic Synthesis) in the US, Post-doc (Automation, DoE) in Germany
    Experience: no industrial or post-ed work so far
    Status: In my last year as a post-doc. I will return stateside looking for a process/development position next year.

    Keep up the good work CJ. I check the website all the time. It's great to read an uncynical but realistic take on the job market in chemistry.

  71. Age: early 40's
    Educ: PhD Organic Chemistry
    Experience: got MS, then worked a few years at a couple of industrial positions, then back for PhD in my 30's.
    Status: post-doc to perma-doc, probably

    I've been lucky so far. As CJ says, interesting times and many changes in the economy/job market to keep an eye on.

  72. Age: Late 20's
    Education: M.Sc Organic chemistry (polymer)
    Location: Canada
    Experience: Worked in the Biotech, cellulosic ethanol, for 18 months. Environmental Sample analyst for 3 months.
    Currently: Back in school pursuing Mech. Eng. with Business.

    Read Chemjobber everyday. Really like the postings, comments and specially the Lay-off Project.

  73. Age: Mid-20's
    Education: 5th yr PhD Organic Chem
    Location: U.S.
    Experience: Not much beyond a summer internship before grad school :-(

    I read the blog daily, trying to figure out what else I can do, really need to get out of research now. Seems like the field has been going down hill since I first touched a test tube.

  74. Age: 38
    Education: B.S. Chem, PhD Analytical
    Location: U.S.
    Experience: 2 yr postdoc non-profit non-academic research institute; 6.5 yrs Asst Prof, land grant uni; 3 yrs fed gov lab

    I read you every few days. You and the job postings help keep me honest--whenever I feel like things in my career haven't gone as I would have preferred. Love your lab safety posts since I know from my former academic appointment how ridiculous universities can be in the safety area.

  75. A little late to the party, but:

    Age: 25
    Education: BA double major in Chemistry and Environmental Studies, MS in Analytical Chemistry expected May 2012
    Location: U.S.
    Experience: Environmental-relatated research in undergrad (during school year and one summer project), nothing outside of academia

    I check the site usually once or twice a week (sometimes longer, obviously) and as I gear up for my job hunt I enjoy both the job postings as well as the alternative careers discussions.

  76. PhD, 30 y.o., main specialty: Computer-Aided Drug Design (Cheminformatics, Structural Bioinformatics)
    Academy: 7 years
    Industry: 3.5 years
    Currently employed at University of Strasbourg, Looking for job in SanDiego region, preferably in industry

  77. Also a little late to the party, but why not...

    Age: 29
    Education: B.S Chemical Engineering, Ph.D. Organic Chemistry.

    Currently finishing up a post-doc and looking for a job.

    I'd love more advice for finding a first job outside of campus recruiting.

  78. Age: 28
    Education: PhD, Medicinal Chemistry
    Job: Academia (Pharmacy school)
    Experience: 1.5 yrs
    Status: I am very happy at my job and hope to be around here for a long time.

  79. Sorry, was pre-gaming as hard as you party.

    Age: 26
    Education: BSc Chemistry (Biochem conc.)
    Exp: 1 yr academia (Not slaving for free..again)

    Currently employed at an Genetics & IVF facility hanging with the Biologeeks.

    Really wish there were more opportunities to use what I know but it seems like going to back for my MSc and then relocating is the only thing that will make me feel like I accomplished the Chem-education goals.

    Worst case, it's off to culinary school.