It may be a mistake to get a degree in Chemistry, unless you have also figured out how to use your knowledge!

ChemsitryFollowing is an extract from this article: A glut of chemists with bachelor’s degrees as well?
This past November, C&EN ran a cover story on the employment outlook for chemists. The coverage consisted of several simultaneously published stories regarding various aspects of the employment  outlook. The main focus shared by many of these stories was on chemists already in the workforce, and the effects that recent or impending layoffs have had on their lives. I offered a few thoughts on the topic as it stirred up fresh memories of having gone through similar experiences myself.

            The bleak employment outlook for recent graduates with bachelor’s degrees in chemistry was also described, but in less detail than given for experienced workers. Those details, plus profiles of some recent graduates, were provided earlier this week, in “New Bachelor-Level Chemists Face Grim Job Market,” an excellent article by C&EN Senior Editor Susan J. Ainsworth. Some thoughtful comments on this story have been provided by Chemjobber this week.

With the likelihood of employment within their discipline fading, many BS/BA chemists have opted to continue their education—often outside of science altogether, let alone chemistry. Some popular choices: law school and MBA programs. So. They’re seeking a career change. Before their careers have even begun. I’m sad that this decision has been forced upon them, but I certainly wish them all well.

OUR View:
It is sad that we are ready to quit and accept that our young graduates  end their years of dreams and passion for physical sciences , even before they can find their first job. Sad indeed that they have to seek a degree in law or MBA, since they are hurting for jobs in their chosen area of interest.
The reality is that the economy has changed. We call this as the Binary Economy.

You no longer have jobs with well-defined roles and clear tasks. Instead you need to become a solution provider, constantly using the knowledge you gained in the college courses. This requires System Thinking – ability to see the big picture, connect the dots to see the pattern, figure out what needs to be done and make it happen. You cannot merely do what you are asked to do (Task orientation) and then wait for some one to tell you what to do next..

Such System Thinking should be demonstrated through Transformational Skills to span or migrate across Discovery, Development, Deployment and Exploitation of your solution- as a continuous stream and not as silos. This requires constant integration of your knowledge (Science) and its application (Engineering) and the strategy to get ahead (Management). You need to do that while keeping at bay all those nay-sayers and door stoppers under the guise of administrators, supervisors, managers and the like, who are there merely to preserve their jobs rather than help you get ahead. There are good reasons for this reality.

These skills for System Thinking and Transformational Skills are not taught anywhere  through organized courses. We need a concerted effort on such education from High School through college as a parallel to STEM education and UG degree courses. In the meantime ACS and other professional associations can teach these skills through courses and as part of continuing education.

Recently I was counseling a student with B.S. Degree in Bio-Informatics. Sounds great! But the college did not help the student find the places where he can apply for jobs or tell him where such jobs are available. It would appear that the faculty put together a collection of courses based on their research work – suitable probably for the few Ph.D level students. Then they put together an U.G. Degree curriculum and graduated many students with no place to go after graduation. After all an UG Degree in Bio-informatics sounds lot more jazzy than a degree in Biology. It also shows some link to computers or IT!

Few among them with a natural ability for ST and TS do indeed find their jobs. The rest are burdened with huge college loan and harsh criticism – unwarranted in our view – as noted in the comment as a response to the above article: How was this decision forced upon them? Could they not of left the country to find a chemistry job somewhere in the world? Nothing was forced on them, they just decided they wanted more convenience. Nobody cuffed them and dragged them to go to school to get their MBA.

It is a harsh criticism of graduates in any field, especially in physical sciences – such as Chemistry, Physics, etc. – to ask them, why did you get a degree in this subject? or why don’t you find the job overseas? Let us stop the blame game and the harsh unwarranted criticisms. Let us teach our kids – with strong interest – with solid education in Physical Sciences. Let us add to their talent the ST and TS Education. They will be the shining stars of the professions in Physics, Chemistry and all other physical sciences world in the 21st Century. For more details please Contact US