From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

November 2014
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Undergraduate Chemistry Majors. Discussion about Careers
Filed under: Position Searching, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 5:14 pm

This was my fifth consecutive year being invited to meet undergraduate
chemistry majors.  My host asked me to Talk about what it like for
people working in fields that a chemistry degree can prepare you
for.  Our class also had a nice question and answer segment where they
asked how I got started. 

I began by sharing that internships, coop programs and undergraduate
research activities really expose them to chemical problem solving
and practical aspects of chemistry and chemistry related fields. 
   High School.  My positive inclination toward chemistry started by an
influential high school chemistry teacher who noticed my interest and
took a liking to me and recommended (sponsored) me for a job. 
   Summer Medical Research Internships.  Near the end of my 2nd year
I got the courage to knock on the door of the chairman of the
Biochemistry Department.  I inquired whether there were any
opportunities to work in his lab.  Dr. Richard Winzler kindly offered 
me a position through the summer in his research group. 
    The next three summers I was privileged to work with grad students,
post-docs and visiting faculty.  It helped me get the knack of research
addressing different kinds of problems.
    Undergraduate Research.  In my senior year  Dr. Bob Allendoerfer
agreed to have me become his first student in his lab doing undergraduate
research on my own project.  Our studies involved spectroscopic
studies of a free radical stabilizer.  He gave me a lot for my 3 credit
hour course and prepared me for graduate research. 
So my first semester of formal graduate research I had already
experienced four kinds of research activities, knew about setting goals,
asking questions and developing proposals. 
Don’t be afraid to ask.

For the segment of what it is like in industry– we viewed photos from
actual laboratories doing studies using robotic dispensers, AGVs
(automated guided vehicles), computer controlled experiments,
automated warehousing, brilliantly designed pick-in-place equipment,
advanced designed water treatment facilities and gaseous, liquid and
solid waste handling systems.  We even talked about coordination
with the Environmental agencies when a sulfuric acid spill disrupted
processing activities (no one was exposed or hurt).

Then we talked about the different fields outside the obvious ones
where chemical knowledge is applied.  Law, patents and contracts,
Customer Relations management, sustainable processes and products,
Resource recovery, medicine, diseases and therapies….

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