On a recent visit to my alma mater I spoke with a
‘rising star’ faculty member about the future of people
in the chemistry profession. He has very good support,
financially and via mentoring, a large and productive
group and a perspective well beyond his years.
He is concerned and has taken action by reducing
the number of students and fellows he accepts into
his group and proactively interacting, advising and placing
them on their career pathways.
Search with Google: “too many scientists (chemists)
not enough jobs” and you will uncover dozens of forums
contributed by “educated” “elites” that expect people
to want to pay them for doing whatever they want
to do without economic realities.
The reality is: At every stage in nearly every
age, it is a struggle for everyone to identify who
they are, what they value and seek and their
career path that will satisfy them.
Peter Fiske writes about it that scientists need to
actively engage and communicate actively to
inform not only editors and reviewers but also
the public on what we do and its importance.
1 The communication must be effective and
planned, practiced and persuasive.
[Please read and take Fiske’s message to
Are we training too many (chemists) scientists for
present and future economic conditions? This is
an inappropriate question. It seems realistic that
not all sub-fields will increase or decrease together,
despite what the economy seems to reflect. So, the
job market and market conditions at one point in
time and at a later point both cannot be predicted
and may not have a cause-effect relationship, a
priori. There may be global trends and larger
events and some decreases in demand. That
being the case everyone needs to have “their head
in the game and not wait to react.”
1. Our ACS society needs to be closely monitoring
and informing both society in general and our
members on what seems to be occurring.
We need to continuously ask for this.
2. Members and other professionals are totally
personally responsible for figuring out what it is
they want (They can get help doing this!).
3. Members need to assume personal responsibility
for exploring careers, defining what they are proficient
at, and performing “gap analyses” for themselves.
4. Members need to set personal goals, develop
and grow needed skills abilities and interests. They
need to learn that this is not easily done in a vacuum
or depending upon one or few teachers. It needs to
be “informed”, “updated” and “verified”. (Trust,
5. It is never too late to start being proactive, but
the earlier one starts the more prepared one can be
to jump at opportunities or develop alternate plans.
6. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Be afraid
of not learning as much as you can from them.
7. Stay alert to new communication methods,
skills and media that work for you.