Friday, October 11, 2013

A fair point by Andre the Chemist

In Tuesday's WalMart post, I gave a few possible reasons that the young chemistry graduate in question did not succeed in the chemistry job market: that the job market itself is not good, that the university did not prepare the student for the available job market or that student decided on a different career path. 

I also said, "I think all three categories are in play here." Here's what the beloved Andre the Chemist said in return:
I'm a little frustrated that you include "This is a sign that universities fail to prepare their students for the available job market" as place to put the blame here but don't include a corresponding point about how employers are not doing a good job searching for and recruiting employees. Actually I'm a little frustrated that point is included at all. 
As a chemistry professor, am I supposed to teach my class (or design my degree curriculum as a whole) to cater specifically to the needs of every student's career goals? I would have to be teaching with the aim to optimally prepare my students for med school, grad school, QA/analytical jobs, synthetic jobs, high school teaching jobs, nursing, law school, etc. (In reality I'd have to teach most of my students to prepare for med school but then to find a job when they don't get in or decide half-way through their senior year that med school "isn't for them".) They don't pay me enough to do this. (And if you think universities have the infrastructure outside of faculty to do this for each and every degree they offer, think again.) If I were to focus only on the desires of the majority of my students (the "paying customer"), I'd be teaching MCAT prep courses. Not a good way to prepare students for any job (save MCAT exam writing or tutoring).  
Pedagogically, my aim (and the aim of most of my peers who I've talked to) is to provide a modern and well-rounded chemical education that will benefit the students in whatever path they choose. We try to make generally good graduates whose skills will help them in life (including jobs) in ways directly related to chemistry, or not (although I think retail manager is a little outside of our self-perceived goals). It is short-sighted for our students to adjust the curriculum to the whims of a job market (although some schools definitely do this) that could change relatively rapidly (all those departments that hired new faculty in late 90s/early 00s to teach undergrad courses in med chem are probably questioning that decision right now). Sure you can argue that the job market has permanently changed, but I think it's too soon to say what will prepare my students for 15 or 20 years down the road, much less four years when they hit the job market. 
People hate to hear this, but in the end, it is the responsibility of the student, and only the student, to use the tools available to her or him at their university to prepare themselves for the job they want to have.
I think Andre has scored a point here, because my initial reaction is "Well, that's not what I meant." I think that Andre is focusing on the wrong part of my statement though, because I was intending to list a variety of possible reasons that Young WalMart Chemist could have ended up with his situation. When I said "I think all three categories are at play here", I failed as a blogger to 1) elaborate on category 2, 2) note that there are other possible explanations and 3) express how much I think category 2 is responsible.

First, let me elaborate on category 2: I think it's squarely in the realm of possibility that universities do not prepare students for the available job market. I do not have peer-reviewed science to indicate that they do or that they do not, but I think it's at least possible, or at least worth considering. It would have been nice, for example, if YMC were informed before his senior year of B.S.-level job openings in chemistry that did not compete with engineering graduates or that did not involve bench research (for example, sales positions, QA, etc.) Who knows? Perhaps the large public university in question did do all of this.

[Also, Andre immediately pivoted to classroom teaching as the place where "universities fail to prepare their students." It's natural, right? -- he's a chemistry professor. But I don't think that's where I would find failures in the chemistry degree program. Also, I'm not advocating for altering the curriculum of a chemistry degree. Not so! I'm a traditionalist at heart.]

[Can we at least stipulate that many chemistry departments have a half-hearted approach to directly preparing their graduates for the available job market?, e.g. there is less than 0.5 FTE devoted to the task? What tools were available to YMC? If your department's career services department consists of an administrative assistant that occasionally posts flyers on a bulletin board, for example, that might be a sign that no one's really thinking about this stuff and that the new graduate is on their own. If your department's commitment to career development for students consists of a resume writing workshop in your senior year, you're effed already.]

Andre is probably right that employers are probably doing a less-than-great job at hiring new B.S. graduates. For example, if YMC didn't have exactly the right keywords on their CV, it's quite possible that they got passed over unfairly. I think it's also likely that employers do a bad job at telling academia what they *actually* want from new graduates, other than a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about "critical thinking skills" or "ability to function in a team environment" or "performing disruptive science."

If I were to assign percentages between only these 3 factors, I would say that "YMC changed their mind about chemistry" is responsible for 80% of the situation, the job market played 15% of the role and the university's role in this is perhaps 5%. If I were to add other factors (the role of employers of chemists, potential geographical factors, potential 2-body problems), the failures of the relevant university in this scenario might fall below 3%. In other words, I don't think the university played a majority part in this -- but I think it's likely that they had some role.

Readers, what do you think? 

34 comments:

  1. The biggest problem for chemistry graduate is credential inflation. A master in law or business, or a 4 years degree in engineering, opens all doors. But for chemist, you need a 4 year B.S., a 5-7 year PhD and a post-doc in a top school if you ever want to make it to senior management level. Oh and by the way, you need to work 70h/week for a decade. Now, what “kind” of person wants to do that? Not the right kind, if you want my opinion. I love it when someone says to me: “I did it and I survived!”. You sure did. And you sure miss the point.
    These “burnt” toasts don’t want to do bench work anymore when they get a job. And unfortunately, I don’t care what you think, if you are not at the bench, you’re no scientist.
    Canada has a master program in organic chemistry that produces better candidate for the pharma business than most American university. But faculties don’t want to let go cheap labor after 3 years, at the peak of their productivity, even if it would be in everyones best interest. This is what happens when you spend someone else’s money. After all, they really need this Tett Lett about iteration number 10000 of how to functionalize benzaldehyde.
    This credentialist culture is dying of its own vice, and is the only thing responsible for sending job oversees and killing R&D in the US. I don’t think cie mind paying a good chemist 100K/year. What they do mind is to pay 100K for someone not working and constantly asking when they can have 2 associates because, “as you know, I have a PhD…”

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    1. The education arms race definitely is lame. When the engineers at my job are impressed by the fact that I have a PhD, I tell them they are much better off, because they are able to do independent work after only a bachelors degree. When I came out of my bachelors degree, I had learnt a lot of chemical knowledge (subsequently forgotten over the years), but I had minimal research ability, and I really needed the PhD to become a good researcher. Do you think scientific research simply requires a longer training period?

      I also agree that you're not a scientist if you're not at the bench. However, having good technicians is always a big help.

      So where do I find these 100K/year jobs? I'm in Canada earning 45th percentile relative to the ACS survey. I'm so happy I spent 11 years in university studying chemistry!!!!1!21!@

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  2. Ugh ugh ugh lost my comment

    I think there are many things that can be done to help chem students. I attended a mid-size university for my undergrad and I never heard any options except grad school. It would be nice for the dept to work with the career center to publicize their services as well. I didn't even know a career center existed at my uni. My impression was always your on your own.

    I think chem degrees could add an internship requirement, much like engineering degrees currently do.

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    1. I think an internship requirement would help introduce students to jobs, but it would also limit the number of possible chem majors dramatically (you have to find places to fit each student, and most chem companies aren't chomping at the bit to bring on interns). And, not all chemists go into industry where an internship would be beneficial. So it seems like such a decision would limit the opportunities of some students unfairly.

      My undergrad had BA and BS degrees with a BS for if you did research in the department or did an external internship. From my class, the BSs did better finding chemistry related jobs, but the BAs did well finding "good" jobs (chem and non-chem) and seem to like what they're doing. I feel like forcing the internship would just have turned the BAs into biologists or psych majors (and the world has enough of those two).

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    2. Limiting the number of chem majors is bad for the ponzi universities that earns money educating them and using them as graduate research drones, but good for the chem majors and the chemistry job market.

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    3. @ Andre...

      >>And, not all chemists go into industry where an internship would be beneficial. So it seems like such a decision would limit the opportunities of some students unfairly.

      While I see your point, it's still important to at least expose students to the possibility of working in industry, as it will make some things (GDP is one fine example in my mind - was introduced in Analytical Chemistry) make much more sense to students. Exposing the students to industry at the least will give valuable experiences to students who will most likely (ideally) be going to industry, and give perspective to the ones who don't.

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    4. Andre,

      My undergrad university had 2 different chem degrees. One that was a little less intensive (one semester of p-chem from a bio perspective) and no advanced inorganic. Pre-meds generally had this major. We also had an ACS-certified degree, which required 2 semesters of p-chem. I don't see why an internship couldn't be incorporated into this type of chem degree. Even if the student doesn't go into industry it's very good exposure to what chemists actually do and it will give them a leg up when they go to look for a job.

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  3. "I think it's squarely in the realm of possibility that universities do not prepare students for the available job market. "

    I hope so. I don't think universities should be tasked with preparing students for the job market specifically and, outside of the ones that advertise on TV, I don't think most even try to. I'm pretty sure most arts students don't take degrees in the hope of striking it big in the history of philosophy industries, so why should science departments operate any differently? My point probably falls apart a little here in comparison to engineering departments, and certainly does in medical and law schools, though I'd argue that those are clearly demarcated as 'professional schools'.

    I'm sure the ACME Plumbing School in Akron does fine work, but I actually like the idealist notion of universities existing to provide education not job training.

    On " I think it's also likely that employers do a bad job at telling academia what they *actually* want from new graduates" I also hope that this is true. The pharma industry, recently, has had a pretty weak track record of making useful new drugs. Why would anyone think they'd be better at deciding how to educate students?

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  4. Thanks for your response. While I did go straight to teaching (as I am wont to do), I did point out that the universities as a whole do not have the infrastructure to be experts in job placement for all students. Chemistry majors, at any institution, make up a tiny percentage of graduates (at my school it's 3%, and that's probably pretty high... at my grad school, chem undergrads made up <1%). How much time, effort, and money can career services devote to understanding the chemistry job market? (Note that I've never seen a specific career services employee or specialist for just the chemistry department, which I think you allude to in your post.) (Also, consider some chem majors go to med school or grad school so there's even less demand for this service.) (Note that a lot of money at most school goes into pre-med advising and preparation, because there is a demand from students coming into the school for this service.)

    One major problem is that students are not proactive about finding a job or being well prepared for the job market. Students don't take advantage of career services until halfway through their senior year when reality hits them. This does not help them get internships or summer jobs in labs or REUs. This does not encourage them to do independent research or take computer programming classes or work on improving their writing.

    As an educator, I want to help my students find jobs, and I hear plenty of people (undergrads and grad students) complain that their school/advisor didn't help them enough in getting a job. Unfortunately, the onus is really on the student to find out where the jobs are, what is required of them, etc and make sure they prepare themselves using the resources available at their institution. Maybe a college or university could require classes of first year students that discuss strategies for preparing for the job market (it would have to be subject neutral which would marginalize usefulness for chemists and science majors in general) and could bring in former graduates who are successful in their jobs and discuss what they did in school.

    Our department has, in the past, brought in former chem graduates to talk about their experiences finding a job (in industry and in the so-called "alternative chem jobs" or whatever you call it) and the events are extremely poorly attended (seniors not going to grad school show up and some enterprising juniors, but nobody else... it's embarrassing). We've tried doing this more generally with the sciences, and the same thing happens.

    Unfortunately, after years of trying to help students, it's become quite clear to me that the major fault in preparing for the job market lies with the motivation of the students.

    Schools aren't deaf to this complaint. Chemistry departments aren't either. But I've never seen concrete examples of what programs or opportunities we can put in place to improve on this that we haven't already tried. I'm open to suggestions from you or your readers.

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    1. Andre, thanks for your response. More later, but I note that UIUC has at least one dedicated FTE to this issue, and I believe they have more than that.

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    2. That's cool. Then again, UIUC is pretty big and has some money. I'd love to see what they do for undergrads and how it works out for them. Maybe I'll contact them and see what they can tell me.

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  5. Andre,

    Let me begin by summarizing your points: (1) Career services cannot focus on the specific needs of chemistry majors, because chemistry majors comprise a miniscule fraction of total graduates. (2) Students realize too late that simply having a degree isn't enough to get them hired. (3) Students have the onus of responsibility for preparing themselves for the job market. (4) Students are apathetic toward non-mandatory events.

    With these points as a backdrop, here is what I would suggest: Start by removing career services from the equation. If chemistry students comprise too small of a percentage of total graduates for career services to be effective, then it is the Chemistry Department that should be assisting the students with job placement. Things a department could do to assist its students: (1) Develop relationships with nearby companies that hire chemistry graduates. Bring in people to give talks about what they do. Take students on tours. Have them serve as job shadows. Make this part of a mandatory class presented to sophomore chemistry majors. Show students how to find internship opportunities. Assist them in sending off applications.

    (2) Require chemistry graduates to have internship experience. When I graduated college, I felt ill-prepared for the job market, because I had no real sense of what industrial chemists did. As a hiring manager, students with internships almost always trump students with no internship experience, because you at least know that they've had a taste of industrial chemistry and they haven't run away screaming. I would advise internships after both the sophomore and junior years to maximize experience prior to applying for jobs.

    (3) Host a job fair. Bring in representatives from local/global companies. Have students submit resumes and sign up for interviews. Even if they don't get a job this way, at least they'll get a glimpse into the interview process.

    (4) Maintain an active undergraduate research program. When I was hired at my current position, the research I did as an undergraduate was more relevant than the work I did as a graduate student. If I had not had that experience, I may not have been hired.

    (5) Schedule a class on applying for jobs during the first semester of senior year. Work with the students on resume preparation. Conduct mock interviews, specifically focused on behavioral interview questions, as these are often very hard for undergraduates to answer. Help the student focus his/her answers on science-related responses. Give the student feedback on his/her presentation skills. Discuss career goals (grad school vs. industry). Help students fill out applications. Making these classes a requirement is an excellent way to combat student apathy. I suspect at least a fraction of student apathy comes from nervousness surrounding the job application process. For most of them, it will be their first 'real' job. They don't know what to expect. This leads to inaction. Help them through the process. Console them when they get rejection notices. Let them know it's common practice for companies to never respond to their applications. Make sure they're not discouraged.

    That's what I can think of without putting any real effort into it. I'm sure there's more. I think it's important to keep in mind that students will have vastly different personal backgrounds. Some may be the first generation in their family to attend college. Others may be the first science major from their family. They may not have the skills that are necessary to position themselves for the job market. As an educator who has experience navigating the job market, you can help them a great deal by sharing your experiences and showing them a path forward.

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    1. Thanks for the ideas.

      We do some form of (1), (3), (4), and (5) from your points, or have done so in the past. We don't have the money to bring in people from national/global companies (and they won't come on their own to any but the best/largest schools). For local companies we do tours for our upperclass majors, but we've had to go further and further away to do this because local companies stopped being so generous (most are downsizing). When we do these things, students don't show up because they don't care until they're on the cusp of graduating.

      As to your point (5), we don't have a class but have upper level seminar courses that focus on speaking and writing skills. Our students come out as pretty good speakers and fair writers. I would love an entire course devoted to this like you suggest. I'm not sure we could require it (chem majors have packed schedules as it is with courses, prereqs, and labs) but it is something to think about.

      As to (2), internships don't magically appear. Companies today don't want to work with most schools. Requiring them just makes it so students will be guaranteed to fail to meet graduation requirements. We would love to place students in internships, but they do not exist in sufficient numbers. Internships that do exist go to the big schools (either very prestigious or producing a ton of majors). Also, even if we could, once every major has an internship, all of a sudden the internship isn't worth anything anymore. Students need a way to separate themselves from other job candidates. Requiring everyone to do the same thing just creates a requirement arms race (see med school admissions).

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    2. Exactly! You are dead on correct sir. Nobody is falling over themselves to hire B.S. chemist. I fell into my job with a Fortune 500 as a B.S. Chemist on a whim. The career fair (at least for my university) was mostly for the engineers, finance/business admin./marketing/accounting, computer science students. It literally was a waste of time printing up resumes for people who weren't there hire you, or even offer you an internship, regardless of your qualifications.

      The only "internships" I got in college were REUs. They were (and still are) the only ones who are willing to have "interns" (summer researchers) in their labs. And these programs are generally feeder programs for graduate school, and maybe professional schools.

      While I was a my company, we rarely had interns who were not engineers in the R&D. I volunteered one summer to be the coordinator for the B.S. life science/physical science interns, and there were about 10 students out of an intern cohort of well over 100. The rest were usually finance, marketing, and engineers. All of the R&D in this country is being outsourced to contract labs, or to other countries. So what are we supposed to do? I felt that I was over-educated to work in industry, and the problems really were/are not that hard (if at all) to solve. I used no physical chemistry and no organic chemistry during my time in industry. A solid understanding of general wet chemistry techniques, analytical chemistry, and a little instrumental analysis is all you need for most of the jobs in industry as a B.S. chemist.

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  6. I think a big part of the problem is that professors with industrial experience are few and far between. Since competition for academic jobs is fierce, the golden child from the right group at Caltech, Berkeley, etc will always get a professor job over someone who did great work in industry. Even someone like Andre who tries to help kids prepare for job-hunting isn't going to understand how industry operates if they've never experienced it. Hiring some professors from industrial backgrounds would make a huge difference, and help kids network into target companies.

    When I first got out of school, I was looking in all the wrong places, like sending resumes to "chemical companies" that were really distributors or commodity manufacturers. I never realized "networking" meant "go to meetings and connect with people in the industry;" when I heard stuff about networking, I just assumed it meant that the people beating me out for jobs probably had dads making phone calls to the right people.

    I saw someone commented about UIUC - I'm an alumnus, and I learned absolutely nothing about job-hunting there.

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  7. In my personal experience, the university could have done more for the students. The teachers themselves were great. I feel like the department as a whole could have worked with the sad business center we had on campus to help us get a job, or internship, better. Also, the class I took for business skills could not help me with writing a more scientific based resume, and I had to figure that out on my own. The business center would have job fairs, but they always had them during class hours. So finally, the university could have built up there business center to help students find a job better.

    While I do not know this person, and his motives, these are the things I see from my perspective.

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  8. I believe my institution does a good job, much better than the average school anyway, in "preparing" students for the job market. Project based learning including 2 different thesis-equivalent research projects are required for all undergraduates. One of these is essentially mandated undergraduate research, the other is another out of discipline research project. Even with these opportunities, there are students who don't take full advantage of a system that is geared toward making them attractive commodities on the job market. Even though as professors, we think mostly about the importance of teaching important (textbook) chemistry, what we're really doing is trying to ensure students have a problem solving skill set that can be applied broadly. I don't think that's always apparent to the students. What they learn in classes may not translate exactly into job skills, but the process of learning and problem solving will.
    I tend to think that the are students here who dismiss projects as hoops that must be jumped through, are the same (and same kind of) students who aren't taking advantage of other career services offered by universities. There is an expectation that the degree in and of itself is all they need. Perhaps it's a matter of trying to get the message through that it's more than that.

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  9. The alternative is to make the chemistry degree harder to get and with more material that is actually expected to be seen in industry. I hate to do comparisons but... look at the BS Physics degree. They objectively learn less industry applicable things, but their average wages are higher and the unemployment rate is lower. They also don't get industry internships, etc. and the competition for physics jobs is even more fierce due to no professional school or alternative major (biochemistry, engineering, etc) outlet for some graduate. Why is this?

    I have a few guesses:

    1. Physics has a rigorous curriculum that does not make any allowances for students that are not 100% focused and serious. Thus, all employers know exactly what to expect from a physics graduate. In contrast, with a B.S. in Chemistry, there is absolutely no way to tell whether someone is more suitable for materials science jobs, biochemistry jobs or synthetic jobs through the name of the degree alone. This contributes to the "branding" of the degree. A physics degree "brands" a student as having such strong capabilities that they can just walk into a finance job and do it, because they are physics graduates. Does chemistry have a similar branding capability?

    2. Physics usually allows students to get a school certified specialization more easily. At my undergrad, you could get a recognized (on transcript) concentration in astronomy, biophysics or applied physics. On the other hand, the chemistry department at my undergrad only had a recognized (on transcript) concentrations in biochemistry. If you do not do biological research, you are lumped in together with "other" as a basic B.S. in Chemistry regardless of how many computing, physics, materials science, advanced chemistry, engineering, etc. classes you took.

    3. The curriculum is not hard enough. There are 6 required upper division classes that all chemistry majors take. They are: Physical Chemistry I, Physical Chemistry II, Analytical Chemistry, Analytical Lab, Advanced Inorganic, Advanced Inorganic Lab. An engineering curriculum sometimes has 12 required upper division classes, with equal numbers of technical electives. A physics curriculum has 8. There needs to be additional rigor in the curriculum to deter those who are not serious about chemistry from pursuing a chemistry degree.

    Some ways which may improve the situation include:

    1. Increase the difficulty in terms of problem solving in the classes of a BS Chemistry degree and especially expand the problem solving based transferable skills classes or classes related to topics that industry directly cares about such as polymer chemistry. Increase the quantity of upper division coursework by 30-50% (2-3 more required classes). The cost for doing so would require 0-2 more faculty per department, which is far less difficult at most schools than most alternatives (i.e. create new jobs or get local companies to hire interns). It can even be costless by simply not expanding towards wet biochemistry in new faculty hires and instead hiring from computational biochemists, physical chemists, materials scientists, etc.

    2. Putting computational chemistry and materials science on a equal footing with biochemistry i.e. at least a recognized concentration within the B.S. Chemistry program. Both of these require just as much if not more specialized training than biochemistry, are part of traditional chemistry curriculums, and are major fields of employment/build strong employable skills.

    Alternatively, just as many physics departments have a separate Applied Physics major with a strong emphasis on computational and experimental skills in electronics, materials science, etc. some schools with a large range of faculty should consider having a separate Applied Chemistry major (still in the department) with more coursework emphasis on physical chemistry, analytical chemistry, electrochemistry, polymer science, and other topics generally useful in industry.

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    1. Physical Chemist here.
      When I did my last job search I spent a lot of time looking at sites related to physics jobs (my training is much closer to physics than organic chemistry.) I saw more than enough angry and frustrated posts by physics graduate students and young phd's where they lamented that no one wants to hire a physics major, they want an engineer or a computer science major instead. I don't think the Quants and finance path is as readily available as it once was.

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  10. You might think I am biased against wet biochemistry. I am not. I simply do not think biochemistry as currently practiced should be part of undergraduate chemistry. The language of wet biochemistry does not use the language of chemistry i.e. entropy, enthalpy, equilibrium, etc. Indeed, there are some biochemistry books with only a single mention of the word entropy, despite the fact that entropy is the dominant driving force in biochemical transformations such as protein folding or transport across membranes. Most biochemistry books do not contain a single mathematical expression with operations more advanced than adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing. Yet it is a required class, and this adds to the confusion of employers. Are chemists actually trained in the basic principles of chemistry? Or are they simply biologists in disguise? After all, the vocabulary used in wet biochemistry i.e. genes, mutations, signalling, etc. is the language of biology, not chemistry.

    How many BS chemists can name the expression for Gibbs free energy off the top of their heads after working 1 year in industry or a non-physical chemistry, non-materials science graduate program? How many could derive it? How many could name the limiting conditions to use Gibbs free energy? If the answer is "not many", then is it any wonder why industry isn't hiring? No one needs an employee whose primary skill is memorizing picture book trivia.

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  11. I think parents are also playing a role in students’ apathy towards finding a job, with the results of too many students waiting until midway through their senior years to starting looking for a job.

    With the general public constantly hearing that we need more, more, more STEM workers, a parent of a chemistry undergrad may think that finding a job will be no problem at all, so said parent also pays little attention to the realities of the job market for chemists, or scientists in general. They also aren’t making certain that their child goes for internships, undergrad research, taking business/computer courses, etc.

    As a related example – my brother (computer science degree, six figure salary) told me that he’d like his daughter (first year student in small state college in Maryland) to major in biotechnology, because then she can get a job at the NIH when she graduates!!! I am not making this up. I quickly re-adjusted his perspective on this when I made it clear that the best she can expect with a BS is to be an hourly contract technician, maybe $15-16/hr, with few benefits, probably hired through Kelly Services. She would be stuck in a dead-end career the day she starts at the NIH, or at any other Federal lab. And then I let him know that there is a severe glut of Ph.D. biologists who are stuck in endless fellowships at the NIH, with little hope of getting a permanent job there.

    He was crestfallen to hear this, but it’s also the last time I’ve heard him talk about biotechnology careers.

    In a similar vein, I doubt that most parents of chemistry undergrads, unless these parents are chemists themselves, have a realistic perspective on the job market.

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  12. I am now a process development chemist at renowned Biotech, but i started as a tenured tracked professor at a state University in the midwest. My father is an engineering professor at a small University and my mom has a masters in chemistry. As an undergrad, I also wanted to go to Med school, but didn't really have the grades nor the perseverance. My perspective is this - don't go into pure science - chemistry, biology, physics or similar field, unless you are prepared to be a dishwasher. I have done co-ops, I have had extracurricular activities, I have had prestigious publications, but there simply is not enough jobs for chemist in this country. My company hires some medicinal chemists, some pharmaceutical chemists, but as a pure science person, you are just SOL. Degrees like engineering, computer science, math (actuary or statistics) are much needed while I don't need a biologist at all. If I have children that wants to pursue pure science as a career, I will probably disowned them.

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