Although most people relocate only after they’ve found a job, Becky Winnick, an R&D chemist at Blue Marble, took a different path. After graduating in 2011 with a B.S. in environmental chemistry from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., she worked at a series of unpaid or stipend-based internships in environmental science, and for a few months at analytical chemistry firm Dragon Analytical Laboratory in Olympia. Then she decided to take a road trip to find work in a place she wanted to live. She “couch surfed” through Spokane, Wash.; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; and Kalispell, Mont., researching opportunities in libraries along the way. “I was hoping to find a simple quality-control job,” she says, but she had no luck.
Once Winnick reached Missoula, she fell in love with the town’s combination of access to nature and a vibrant music, art, and social scene and was determined to stay. She found a place to live on Craigslist and pounded the pavement of Missoula’s fledgling biosciences scene, networking with University of Montana professors and dropping off her résumé at several companies. When none of them hired her, she took a job at an IHOP restaurant for the summer and volunteered with a wildlife refuge, planning to move again by winter if nothing panned out in terms of starting a chemistry career.
Last October, Winnick saw a job posting for Blue Marble. She was hired as an intern and moved up to a permanent position in January. Now the 23-year-old works on projects from inception to scale-up, testing different extraction methods to fill requests from potential clients for such things as a natural blue food coloring and determining how to make the extracts in larger reactors.I don't think this is a viable route for most (any?) Ph.D. chemists, but I think that, for the right person (relatively young, no familial responsibilities), this approach to finding a job in chemistry can work well. Read the whole thing!