Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Window of Security

It's not very open (or closed?)
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. 


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

  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...

  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.....

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

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

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

  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.


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