Friday, December 23, 2016

Radio show today at 2 PM Eastern



Call into the show at (845) 277-9235 or leave a comment, and I'll send you a Skype invite.

What do you want to talk about? We're mainly focusing on #chemjobs issues today. 

18 comments:

  1. Hey, 2pm eastern I'll be asleep! So no worries about people calling in and saying stupid shit on air. I'll listen to the recording.

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  2. Can you discuss the withering away of chemistry jobs from every area of the country that's not Boston or the Bay Area? North Carolina, NJ/Philly, Chicago, Indiana, Michigan, St. Louis... I'm missing some of course.

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  3. How much emphasis is placed on the chalk talk at the on site interview? Assuming you are a great candidate otherwise (top lab, great cv, great proposal, great talk to the dept)

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    1. WRT industry jobs, the first two combined with a clear research summary get you the interview (we obv care less about proposals). The talk and follow up questions in one-on-ones are there to judge depth of knowledge about your research area and what your contributions were to group efforts (and what your coworker/PI's contributions were). Chalk talks are meant to judge breadth of knowledge outside of your primary methodology or synthesis projects. Basically how much attention do pay to what your coworkers or classmates are working on and/or general literature reading. It also helps judge how well you'll do in science discussions with coworkers and take negative feedback ( why do you think that will work? What about that incompatible functionality? We tried that and it bombed, what else could you try?). We do appreciate that in the real world you have access to search engines. There are also explicit and implicit HR questions to assess how you would work with reports/peers/supervisors.

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    2. Thanks for detailing this. I was more interested from the academic perspective, but I imagine it is not much different than Industry. I hear they can get pretty intense (both industry and academic), and I tend to struggle when getting grilled by a group of people if I don't have slides to fall back on. I also have poor handwriting, so the whole not having slides thing is a bit daunting to me. On paper, I will get a number of interviews, but there's a decent chance I bomb them because of this.

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    3. You have no excuse but to prepare, otherwise you don't deserve the job, no matter how good you look "on paper".

      Apologies if that sounds harsh, but there are a staggering amount of highly qualified, brilliant scientists on the market who will not get a single interview because "on paper" they don't meet the desirable criteria of the day. If life has thrown you a break, don't waste it.

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    4. @Anon5:57: no problem. I think that, if they're quizzing you on your own work, that having back-up slides that you can show is fine, IMO. I think it shows foresight. But there are people who will judge you negatively for it. You can decide if you really want to work with people like that. I think that, irrespective of what manner you choose to answer the question, showing a passion for the science and excitement about talking about it is important.

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    5. One of the interesting things about being on the other side of the interview process, is to see how the person who is being interviewed reacts. I will ask pointed questions during the seminar, but if I like the candidate, I treat the one-on-one as a chance to recruit them rather than to try to grill them. Some candidates we have hired thought that was actually a negative, they had so much self-confidence that they wanted to be all out grilled because they felt that would weed out the weaker candidates and help their chances.

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    6. anon 5:57 here. I'm not so worried about getting grilled. It's more the not having slides aspect and having to draw things out with chalk (an entire talk and response to questions)...I'm used to getting grilled when I have slides and have no issue defending my work/ideas.

      I think anon 6:26 probably has the right mentality on this. I just have to deal with it/prepare as best as I can, and If it prevents me from getting a job so be it. It would be their loss anyway.

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  4. Thanks for answering my question!

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  5. I have to admit I didn't see the conversation headed toward prepping other than kilogram preps of intermediates.

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    1. LOL, I didn't really think it would go that way either.

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  6. Around 12:30, what were you about to say about environmental lab positions? (You changed topics with your first caller before finishing the thought.) Asking because that's my background, so that very interested in any insight about it. Thanks!

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    1. I've not looked at the statistics around environmental laboratory testing, but I sense that it is geographically diverse (i.e. not clustered in two or three cities).

      If pharma positions (and other industries that employ a high percentage of PhD chemists) will be clustering more and more (i.e. not geographically diverse), then that should be changing strategies that people have for getting into those fields.

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    2. Thanks, that sounds consistent with what I've been seeing. (Of course, whether or not those labs are hiring is another matter.)

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    3. I think CJ nailed it - R&D centers employing a lot of PhD's are clustering in Boston and SF, but manufacturing plants will never be built in such high-cost, high-regulation areas. As long as chemical plants are scattered throughout the Rust Belt, the Southeast, and Texas, I would expect environmental labs to be scattered as well.

      The chemical industry's geography seems to be diverging to two extremes - rather than a happy medium like NJ or the RTP, you can either get a job at an R&D center in an ultra-high COL area like Boston or SF, or at a plant in Podunk, Alabama.

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