Monday, July 16, 2012

Post-wedding comments

Went to a wedding on Saturday -- a lovely time.* Nice ceremony, fun reception.

I was seated at a table full of chemists, all under 40. Lots of shop talk, lots of talk of job loss, of the difficulty in finding work in our field. The best line of the evening?
"I've survived [3 < x < 7] rounds of layoffs -- I don't want to survive another one."
There has got to be literature on what happens to an industry when the median entry-to-mid-level worker is quite jaded about the future of the field. Yikes.

At the same time, most people I talked to were pretty clear about their personal situation as compared to those worse off. "I've got a job -- I can't complain" seemed to be the final refrain of the night.

Best wishes to all of us.

*Thanks to See Arr Oh for watching over the blog while I was out. 


  1. No talk of people taking matters into their own hands? Then again, the vast majority of "scientists" are not known for having a backbone.

  2. anon@07/17- As a veteran scientist myself, am offended by your comments. What do you mean by ..taking matters into their own hands? You also blurt that scientists do not have a backbone. I do not get as to what your intents are? As someone who was let go and then rehired, I feel helpless to help others! In my previous job, the times were good I had been fortunate enough to help many and they are still holding on to their respective jobs! My friend, understand that in these times of less...every single soul is holding on to what they have it, while they have it. Please, do not make any insensitive comments. If you cannot help with encouraging words, do not hurt the feelings.

  3. He's basically implying that we should all be starting our business. Whether it be a lemonade stand or a mega global pharmaceutical company. Never mind the logistics of toxic waste, suppliers, analytical equipment, labor, and time it takes start such a venture. (That is if we have ample supply of investors) Then maybe we should all just make designer drugs underground and let the free market sort it out.

    Point is taken, but most of these people who have the experience and skills necessary to even attempt going out on their own are older, and highly leveraged by their mortgages and families. In time, younger scientists will step up to the plate because ultimately, they don't really have a choice, but I don't begrudge anyone for doing the best they can for the moment to keep a roof over their families head and get their children raised and out of the house.

  4. I should have commented earlier but here it goes:

    I went to a wedding with a bunch of PhD/Post-Doc's, it was depressing. The experience mirrored yours. Everyone asked what I was going to do, basically I said I don't know, since there is no one replying, they had similar replies.

    I went to a second wedding, basically learned my lesson and stayed off the subject. However one guy left science after his PhD, he was the happiest PhD I have met so far...

    As far as Anon's "Take matters into their own hands" idea. It's very difficult for a bunch of people who spend night and day in a hood performing such narrow tasks to suddenly take up the effort to start a business. It is not feasible and they have little clue about what has high utility after spending so many years pursuing esoteric ideas and purely scientific curiosities.

    A person in nanotech may feel their field has huge potential, but upon trying to expand beyond the a small test tube and electron micrograph, finds it is massively expensive to apply to even the simplest problem!