Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Window of Security

It's not very open (or closed?)
Credit: bryanens.wordpress.com
In a recent conversation, I described my thought process about a previous employer as 6 month windows (kind of like a Friedman Unit), where the question would always be "Will the company make it to the summer?" or "Will the company make it until Christmas?" I said that, by comparison, I now feel like the window has lengthened by 18 months. I mentioned that I really couldn't imagine that window getting any wider, even if I were to work for a much-larger and/or prominent employer.

As I thought more about this, of course, my thoughts turned to tenure-track professors. By comparison, tenure seems like an infinite window. Even then, it's worth recognizing that funding situations change; nobody can predict the funding picture in 10 years for even the most august state-funded universities. 

By comparison, my father has worked for the same private company for over 30 years. I simply cannot imagine the concept of near-lifetime employment. It's my assumption that this option is closed to most chemists of my generation. 

Best wishes to all of us. 

7 comments:

  1. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, CJ!!!

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  2. Because of this every narrowing window of security, there will be a smaller and smaller pool of chemists to worry about it. Why should anyone go to grad school, then post-doc for this?
    I spend more time working on my resume than my projects! I have no choice. I love science, but apparently corporate America doesn't. Eventually there will be no more scientists for the MBSs, lawyers, and bean counters to squeeze. While I look forward to that day, I know that rebuilding what we are currently losing will be damn near impossible. We are soon to become the next has-been, just like Great Britain.
    Good luck to all of us is a nice saying, but luck is not a planning tool. We all need another plan in order to survive...

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  3. "Why should anyone go to grad school, then post-doc for this?"

    A valid point, but the reality people still are spending 4+ years in grad school followed by 2+ years as a PDF and will continue to do so. The current view of job insecurity has maybe gotten worse in the past decade, but I'm not sure meaningfully so, and I don't this it has (or will) correlate with advanced chemical study participation. The history industry has been weak for ages, and yet people still take degrees in it.....

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  4. Security of tenure used to be a feature of the professions. Chemists have now rejoined the proletariat.

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  5. I have been at my company for 12 years.

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  6. A7:08: If you care to share that plan, I'm all ears. E-mail is in the upper left hand corner.

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  7. @Anon7:08, @boooya: Some of us will always take chemistry degrees no matter how bad the economy is. I just really find it fascinating, so I think I'd do it no matter what.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all! May your break (if you get one!) be peaceful and restful.

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