Monday, December 19, 2011

Funny (NOT): quotes of the year

From today's issue of Chemical and Engineering News (and the last issue of the year) comes ten quotes of the year, 3 of which are about the chemistry job market:
“In the end, I think that there is really only one employment data point that matters—yours.” 
David Harwell, assistant director, ACS Department Of Career Management & Development, January 31. 
“We consider synthetic chemistry to be very outsourceable. Frankly, we don’t do any of it in-house anymore.” 
Kerry L. Spear, vice president of medicinal chemistry, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, May 9. 
“We used to tell students that, if you take an advanced degree in chemistry, your career will be secure. That’s not true anymore.” 
Ronald Breslow, University Professor, Columbia University, September 26.
Interesting to see. We've covered 2 of those quotes directly here. Hopefully 2012 will have better quotes.


  1. “We consider synthetic chemistry to be very outsourceable. Frankly, we don’t do any of it in-house anymore.”

    I cut this quote out of the C&E News article and taped it into my listing of inspirational quotes on wall.

  2. I'm going to be a graduate student in fall 2012. I know things aren't looking good, job market-wise, but I feel that it might be true across the board, not just in chem. Some fields might have it better/worse, sure, but reading this blog in general is sobering/depressing sometimes. I'm kind of lost as to whether I should get my PhD or not. Anyone have any advice? Thanks in advance.

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  4. A3:26:

    Thanks for reading -- it's my honor. I think it's important for you to carefully decide what is important to you and what your priorities are. It's also important for you to carefully decide how good of a chemistry student you think you can be.

    It used to be, as a Pfizer executive put it, 'if you could fog a mirror, you were hired' for research associate (BS/MS) positions. That's not true anymore, I think. It used to be that a PhD in organic chemistry and a postdoc in a half-decent group would be all that you needed for a decent-ish job. That's not really the case anymore. To get an industrial job in organic chemistry at a major pharmaceutical company these days, I'd say you need to be at least in the top 5-10% nationwide, if not higher.

    BUT. If you love chemistry (as I do) and can face the fact that there are other fields where you can earn more money and really like research, a Ph.D. may be for you. If you have a family and/or children, it may be a difficult thing to bring them along this long, strange, fun ride.

  5. Yeah,

    I'm faced with the same tough decision. The only difference is that I have chosen to pursue study of an even more nuanced topic: infrared spectroscopy (of the helium droplet variety at that). I'm wondering if there is even demand for such a skill in industry...


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20