Monday, January 28, 2013

B.A./B.S. graduates having a hard time

We'll be coming back to this again (like tomorrow), but I want to note Susan Ainsworth's article in this week's C&EN on the difficulty of B.A./B.S. new graduates in finding work:
Credit: C&EN, ACS Starting Salary Survey
...many other fledgling B.A. and B.S. chemical professionals have been struggling to find jobs in their chosen discipline. In the most recent American Chemical Society survey of new graduates in chemistry and related fields, in 2011, 14% of recent bachelor’s degree recipients reported that they didn’t have a job but were seeking one, up from 12% in 2010 (C&EN, June 4, 2012, page 36). In contrast, 9% of new Ph.D. grads said they were seeking employment in 2011, up from 6% in 2010. 
Results of the 2012 new-graduates survey won’t be available until April of this year. In the meantime, a sampling of career services coordinators at universities across the U.S. reports that the employment landscape for new B.S. and B.A. chemists, biochemists, and chemical engineers hasn’t changed much from last year. 
For B.S. graduates in the chemical sciences, the job market “appears to be even a little more challenging this year,” observes O. Ray Angle, director of University Career Services at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 
Among its 2012 B.S. grads in chemistry and biochemistry, 33% found jobs, 50% went on to grad school, and 17% are still seeking jobs and remain unemployed, Angle notes. In comparison, 43% of its 2011 grads found jobs, 47% went on to grad school, and only 10% were seeking jobs.
The article is full of interesting stories of young chemists' (successful and less so) job hunts -- best wishes to them.  

23 comments:

  1. I thought we were all supposed to do chemistry out of love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not true, it's an honor and privilege.

      Delete
  2. Is there ever any good news?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you are an M&A lawyer, then yes.

      Delete
  3. Is the ACS member number artificially low?

    If I lose my job, I am not going to keep paying those dues when my kids need to eat.

    ReplyDelete
  4. CJ, I know you are a fan of small colleges. Do you have any thoughts on what professors at PUIs should do in response to these numbers. I was prepared, in a different setting, to make the argument that there is a glut of Ph.D. chemists, but not a glut of B.A./B.S. chemists. Perhaps I was wrong about that. How do we sell a chemistry major to prospective students with this information in the back of our minds?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't necessarily think there is a glut of B.S. chemists - I see tons of job ads. But. They all ask for knowledge and experience you typically do not and can not acquire in college. GxP, CASE formulation, validation with Empower, - I bet there isn't a single college in the land that would teach you that.

      Delete
  5. Those ads aren't looking for new graduates, they're looking for the people who had the exact same position at another company before they got laid off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be completely correct, they're looking for the people who have the exact same position at another company right now, but I still think that a new graduate with requisite skills would have a chance.

      Delete
  6. The saddest part IMO was the folks who are going on to non-chem graduate work. One decided on law school at Suffolk, which is ranked what? 100? Another doing an MBA with no previous business experience. Do these people not know what they're facing? That's why I continue to think that while the prospects for chem majors may not be good, I'm not sure what other options are better, assuming you have an interest in science.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What's so sad about that? Patent attorneys do pretty well for themselves. And as for the mba, probably a smart choice.

      Delete
  7. Not to worry the senate wants to fix our STEM shortage. Now immigrants "who have received a PhD or Master's degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university" will get an automatic green card.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/01/28/bipartisan_immigration_reform_proposal_path_to_citizenship_higher_skilled.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The frustrating thing is, I listen to these SV jokers (aka the top names in SV) complain that they can't find talented engineers for their startups and that immigration needs to be reformed so they can hire talented engineers. Perhaps in CS, but maybe the "S" part should be left out of those arguments.

      Delete
    2. Excellent news! Maybe they'll move a lot of the research and manufacturing from China here if the Chinese grad students all get green cards and decide to stay here instead. Salaries will be lower, but as long as we can compete with China for a slightly higher standard of living, we should be fine.

      I hope this green card business is retroactive too. I sure as hell wouldn't be working as a chemist for peanuts if I went to live in the States after the salary crash this is going to cause. Maybe English-language science writer or prof. There's gotta be plenty hard working indentured servants coming in to do graduate degrees after this legislation is passed.

      This will actually be interesting to watch. This legislation has a huge potential to create a category 5 hurricane strength brain drain in the rest of the world. There are so many misguided souls who still want to live in the States no matter what and will see this as their sure bet. Native born Americans will never work in science again, but the country overall could benefit greatly from it in terms of rapid GDP growth. All those new immigrants will not get jobs as scientists but will be forced to start new companies and do stuff or starve. That they'll manage is sure, if they were smart enough to get a PhD. Plus they won't have as many hangups in not having a chance to work in their field after they graduate. After all, for them just getting a green card was mission critical. The rest is icing on the cake. And this will really screw the rest of the world as well.

      Of course, the world might fight back and China and the rest will give free citizenship to anyone with a science degree... so companies might want to stay in the cheapest production place. But no one will want to be a chemist in the Central African Republic when they can be a pizza delivery driver in the USA. I will use this to get as many citizenships and green cards as possible in the biggest countries in the world. By the time I die, I want to have more than half the Earth's land mass covered.

      Delete
    3. Uncle Sam: "All those new immigrants will not get jobs as scientists but will be forced to start new companies and do stuff or starve."

      Ha! What immigrant is going to actually choose a career in science with a green card in hand? It's the employer-sponsored H1-Bs that keep them working in the STEM slum. If a green card is automatic, why not just get a two-year MS from a third-tier college? When you get out, start your own small business...or do whatever you'd like while you wait for citizenship. What's your opportunity cost? Almost nothing, if you're from a developing country with high unemployment. What's your investment? Just two lousy years of academic lab work in a safe, comfortable developed country.

      Delete
    4. So, who wants to pool up some money and start a for-profit university? Say, we run foreign students through an accelerated no-research 16 month MS program, and charge 100k. With 40-50 student and 5-person staff we should make out like bandits.

      Delete
    5. somedude,

      I'm in!

      Delete
    6. Can we call our university 'Green Card University', or is that too transparent? I'd like to be the head of the Department of Green Card Che... sorry, I meant the Department of Green Chemistry.

      We'd probably need some schmucks who do actual research that we can publish in an actual journal, and then put the names of our customer.., I mean PhD students, on the articles so that they fulfill ACS requirements. Maybe as a final irony, part of their PhD student fees can then actually go to support a bit of research.

      Delete
    7. No, no! No Ph.D's, strictly MS. Make it fast - 16 months and then our own paralegal files paperwork for you. I mean, wham, bam, thank you mam! For research part we can loan them out as interns for 3-4 months to local companies. Even better if we can latch onto some community college, so that we don't have to waste money on accreditation and worry about SEVIS.

      Delete
    8. PS. Simply the Department of Green.

      Delete
    9. Uh, guys...masters WITHOUT thesis. Let's keep this cheap.

      Delete
  8. See, and that anonymous whiner from the previous post who said "As Ph.D. scientists, we have an obligation to create the jobs, and the products that will sustain our existence", will also be happy. Who said that we chemists don't have a vision for the future?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Speaking of "thought leaders", I thought it would be interesting to see a point of view from a top name in SV:

    http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130128153456-25760-immigration-reform-stop-ejecting-the-brightest-minds-from-america

    "The xenophobia underlying current immigration policy has three consequences for the U.S. technology industry. First, the know-how for all sorts of new companies is being expelled from America. Second, it makes it even harder to fill the job vacancies at existing U.S. based semiconductor, biotech, networking and software companies."

    Uh, job vacancies in biotech? Really? Where? Seriously, show me these job vacancies that are oh so difficult to fill. Mr. Moritz, all respect due, please leave the "S" of STEM out of these arguments.

    ReplyDelete