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Old 04-14-2011, 02:14 PM
9 posts, read 71,574 times
Reputation: 12


I graduated a semester early with a degree in Chemistry in December 2010. I started my job search early, but there were few jobs being posted. In February I sent out my resume to recruiters, companies I was interested in etc.

I had 3 telephone interviews and 6 other interviews. I got hired for one position but I turned it down (long story). Two of the other interviews were with a big pharmaceutical company offering a temporary position. Even though I had the requirements, I was never hired. Honestly, I don't think when people look at me they think I can be a Chemist. I think they want someone that looks a little more mature. I remember one of the interviewers coming into the interview room and the first thing she said was "I didn't expect someone so young." I'm 23, 5'7 and the girl who everyone says is a fashionista and pretty.

I graduated with honors, everyone praises (including the interviewers) my resume but somehow I can't get hired. I live in South Florida where the economy is not great. So I need some career advice. Anyone out there knows someone with a degree in Chemistry? What field are they working in? I don't want to be a doctor, dentist or pharmacist.

My student loans don't go into repayment until June 2012. I thought I would get a job doing research, gain some experience and then go on to do my Masters.

Now, not being able to find a job, I wonder if I should change my plans. I started looking into Engineering, Biostatistics, Patent Law etc . I'm so lost right now, I have no clue what to do with my life

I'm really good at science and math so I'm looking in that direction. Can someone help me?
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Old 04-14-2011, 06:37 PM
1,237 posts, read 3,332,839 times
Reputation: 1094
Science has never struck me as a field where 'looks' had anything to do with hiring (and I know this to be true...I've seen the people I work with )

That said, you could certainly go on to more school now if that's what you want - but it may just be delaying the problem. Have you looked at the food/product industry? A lot of big companies (i.e. Johnson & Johnson, ect) employ chemists in their QC and/or R&D departments...you can also find that in smaller companies, I just don't have any examples for you.

You could also go the environmental route - a lot of places will hire Biology/Chem/ect type majors since the foundation for the topics are there. There is a lot of research into alternative fuels, or GM foods/crop types stuff...

For me, chemistry and biology majors just don't have set paths - which is both frustrating and beneficial. There is no right answer and you'll have to think outside the box to find positions but you can also stretch the degree into a variety of options...

As a completely general piece of advice, go to indeed.com and type in 'chemistry jobs' and see what happens. If nothing else, it might give you some ideas of where else to look.
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Old 04-14-2011, 09:36 PM
28,460 posts, read 81,486,848 times
Reputation: 18672
I disagree that there are not "set paths" for chemistry undergrads. The "path" generally starts with doing an internship at the appropriate point BEFORE graduation. If you did not pursue such an opportunity that puts you at a big disadvantage. If your school / advisor did not try to help you line something up, shame on them for hurting your chances of gainful employee and shame on you for PAYING tuition to such a school...

After the internship the SECOND biggest path for good jobs for chemistry undergrads is TOP NOTCH ON CAMPUS RECRUITING. Basically every school that has a decent ACS affiliation ought to have MOST of its graduates lined up with good employers upon graduation. Now I know that Florida does not have the kind of chemical industry as Illinois does, let alone that of Houston, New Jersey, Alabama or Louisiana but all those areas DO have a need to folks with the kind of background to do lab work /QA / sales training / technical sales support so MOVING often is a part of "the path" of moving from fresh out of college to "valuable enough to pay for more schooling"...

With appropriate experience it might make sense to go back to school after a few years and earn a MS or PhD or perhaps move toward the MBA / industrial engineering / Master of Operations Science paths can lead to both larger roles and more value to consulting firms...

As the above post also notes, there are certain specialties that are more suited to burly "rough neck on an oil rig" type jobs at power plants and refineries and others for "petite fashionista" types. Don't forget that pretty much EVERY cosmetics and personal care products type company NEEDS a small army of chemists to ensure quality for existing products AND work on the constant demand for "new and improved" products. If you truly did graduate with honors and have excitement about the "softer" aspects of consumer oriented firms you might make a great fit at anyplace from Dial or Colgate to Estee Lauder or Avon or any of the DOZENS of specialty "flavor and fragrance" labs / consulting firms that contract with them...
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:47 PM
Location: Las Vegas
14,230 posts, read 28,706,862 times
Reputation: 27644
I'm thinking you are young, footloose, and fancy free?

Look into Molycorp. They are hiring for middle of nowhere Ca, right over the Nv line. Might be a good place to work for a few years, build up some experience, and pay off your loans. Then move on.
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Old 04-15-2011, 07:52 AM
144 posts, read 549,778 times
Reputation: 165
Go to pharm, med, optometry, physical therapy or some other professional school. Chemistry is a terrible profession. What jobs that are available are now permatemp or contractor jobs with some agency that eats 1/3 to 1/2 your paycheck and whose only service is to sheild American companies from employment laws and having to provide benefits.

I have a MS in chemistry and It was a total waste of time. I am now in year 2 of a Doctor of physical therapy after spending a couple years without benefits earning $15 an hour. Do yourself a huge favor and get away from science.


Last edited by Lou347; 04-15-2011 at 08:02 AM..
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Old 04-15-2011, 08:17 AM
Location: broke leftist craphole Illizuela
10,339 posts, read 16,478,870 times
Reputation: 20255
I agree with Lou:

You don't want to do QC it is boring dead-end and low paying.
You don't want a grad degree in Bios or Chem that is just digging the hole deeper
Get a Business degree or go to professional School

I also have an MS in Chem-Protein Biochemistry. I am working in the food industry for one of the largest international food conglomerates doing flavors analysis. It sucks. They keep their science staff as permatemps on 1099 even so you have to pay the self-employment tax and the pay is pretty bad. I make $20 an hour. I honestly can't think of a single positive thing to say about science as a profession. I am going for a Master of Science in Accounting next fall and I want nothing more to do with it.

The only real decent jobs I've seen are with the Federal Govt. Unfortunately everyone wants to work for them especially in science. I've been trying for years. My last rejection said they had over 1000 applicants. Also with budget cutbacks it seems even less likely.

Last edited by MSchemist80; 04-15-2011 at 08:58 AM..
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Old 04-15-2011, 08:40 AM
Location: broke leftist craphole Illizuela
10,339 posts, read 16,478,870 times
Reputation: 20255
Here are the kind of jobs you can expect. BTW that is with 3 years experience no/joke benefits. BTW contract to hire is typically a scam.

Jobs > Scientific > Illinois > Chemist

Company: Aerotek Scientific
Location: Skokie, Illinois Category: Scientific Jobs
Rate: $15.00 to $19.00 per Hour
Job Type:
Posting ID:
Posting Date: 4/13/2011
Chemist Job Description:

One of Aerotek Scientific's largest accounts develops and manufactures innovative healthcare products used by medical professionals and retail consumers throughout the world. They develop products such as shampoo caps, gowns, gloves and various oral care products. This group is looking for a Chemistry Laboratory Technician to join their team.

This individual will be conducting QC testing. They will retrieve and document all pertinent information required to verify the reliability of test results. They will need to recognize any deviation or departure from expected testing conditions or results. They will participate in instrument maintenance and perform various product/process tests for control and assurance of quality in products and processes.

Job Duties:
* Conduct Quality Control tests as assigned
* Generate test results
* Participate in routine instrument maintenance

Great Company to start a career with! All interested please apply!
Required Skills for Chemist Job:

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Old 04-15-2011, 09:18 AM
9 posts, read 71,574 times
Reputation: 12
Lou and MSchemist I know things are bad in science but somehow I just feel like things will get better. Most of the positions I interviewed for are for temps at $14-17 an hour, no benefits. For an entry level position I don't think its so bad considering the economy and the little experience I have. That's why I don't want to rush to do my Master's...experience coupled with education is always better in my opinion.

I wish I interned but Miami is not really the best location for science grads. There were always internships for engineering, business or social science majors. But for us science students, none. Even now I look at jobs on my alma mater website and still science majors suffer.

I just wish I didnt look so young. When I had my interview with the pharma company, I met with everyone on the team, I saw the other entry level staff that were there and I don't fit. One of the interviewers said it would be like working with her daughter, one of the men asked if I was married *sigh*

I'm going to continue looking and hope someone gives me a chance to prove myself. I wake up at 7:30 and look for jobs all day, from 8-7pm. That's why I've had so many interviews in a short time. Just hard getting hired, especially when you know there are 6 candidates and they're looking for 2 but you're never chosen.
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Old 04-15-2011, 09:31 AM
Location: broke leftist craphole Illizuela
10,339 posts, read 16,478,870 times
Reputation: 20255
These are not just entry level positions. Heck I work next to a Ph. D cheese chemist with 30 years experience. Chemists laid off after age 40 are also often forever stuck in these crap jobs. Things have been bad for 30 years and are only getting worse with the collapse of Pharma and the decline of chemical manufacturing. Heck I've had 11 interviews this year and not had one offer.
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Old 04-15-2011, 11:09 AM
28,460 posts, read 81,486,848 times
Reputation: 18672
I really cannot stress enough that it IS possible to follow the path I laid out and make a decent career. I know several people that have followed that exact path and they are currently working in very fulfilling and lucrative roles in firms that manufacture / distribute / sell industrial chemicals, consumer goods, process oriented services as well as academic and governmental oriented technical or managerial roles.

Yes, randomn-ish "warm body" positions are advertised as paying under $20/hr and the folks that apply for these are competing with those people that have not done the internships with good employers, don't have the skills needed to impress and on-campus recruiter that they will grow beyond a technical role into the business side or innovative contributor with an advanced degree. These sorts of "posted with a body shop" roles also go overwhelmingly to folks that did the bulk of their schooling overseas -- compared to wages and working conditions back home a nice boring QC job in a safe OSHA regulated lab in some quiet office suburban park IS a dream job to them... They are as "dead end" as you make it. If you leverage such experience to create a business that runs rings around the sleepy employer that is basically "the entrepreneurial route to success". If instead you bury yourself in negativity you will be lucky if even a complacent employer does not eventually reduce your meager role...

The reason the OP has not seen firms with young people holding science degrees is that the rewards for excellence in the science ARE out of whack with what can be accomplished with less demanding schooling that tends to be closer to the worlds of finance or even marketing. If you can network you way into a job where those skills help to move the company and you forward at a dizzying pace the need to understand thermodynamics and the kinetics of inorganic reactions starts to lose luster for many bright kids...
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