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### Topic: A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry  (Read 18685 times)

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#### GCT

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##### A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry
« on: August 30, 2008, 08:30:10 PM »
I've just written an article about the state of chemistry in Georgia, the audience is undergraduates who are pursuing a Bachlelors in Chemistry who are planning to be employed in the Georgia industry upon graduating.

Comments are welcome, the article may be revised accordingly

http://www.chemportal.blog.com

#### enahs

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##### Re: A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2008, 09:07:37 PM »

Chemistry is to large of a field to teach everything. Furthermore, college is to teach science, not train you for a specific job! That is what on-the-job training and experience is for. College is to teach you the fundamental basics, and to teach you how to learn, so you can learn those specific things you need for an industrial/regulatory job.

You honestly just sound like a person who has not been able to actually get a job. I have plenty of friends who just have B.S. degrees and work in industry and regulatory and are getting paid really good money fresh out of college (and I actually have a friend who moved to Georgia this summer to start a job at $54,000 a year). Yes most things you learn in college are not required if your goal is to just get a quality control job somewhere; but as I said, college is about learning, not training you for a specific task. Because I can name you right now 50 jobs that are "chemistry" related, and in each one of them you will do completely different things. Why would I train you to do 50 different things when I could hopefully just teach you the basics and make you smart enough to learn those things on your own? Furthermore, you talk about internships at the school, but if you want an industry job, that is stupid. Apply for internships in those industry jobs, as I promise you there are a lot. If you just want to get trained and a certificate to be a worker who handles chemicals, why would you go to a institution whose goals are to educate you and to do research? For the other stuff, go to DeVry or ITT Tech, etc. #### GCT • Regular Member • Posts: 9 • Mole Snacks: +0/-3 ##### Re: A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry « Reply #2 on: August 30, 2008, 11:29:59 PM » Honestly, your comments are stupid in my opinion. Chemistry is to large of a field to teach everything. Furthermore, college is to teach science, not train you for a specific job! That is what on-the-job training and experience is for. College is to teach you the fundamental basics, and to teach you how to learn, so you can learn those specific things you need for an industrial/regulatory job. You honestly just sound like a person who has not been able to actually get a job. I have plenty of friends who just have B.S. degrees and work in industry and regulatory and are getting paid really good money fresh out of college (and I actually have a friend who moved to Georgia this summer to start a job at$54,000 a year).

Yes most things you learn in college are not required if your goal is to just get a quality control job somewhere; but as I said, college is about learning, not training you for a specific task. Because I can name you right now 50 jobs that are "chemistry" related, and in each one of them you will do completely different things. Why would I train you to do 50 different things when I could hopefully just teach you the basics and make you smart enough to learn those things on your own?  Furthermore, you talk about internships at the school, but if you want an industry job, that is stupid. Apply for internships in those industry jobs, as I promise you there are a lot.

If you just want to get trained and a certificate to be a worker who handles chemicals, why would you go to a institution whose goals are to educate you and to do research? For the other stuff, go to DeVry or ITT Tech, etc.

The context of the article was for people who are aiming for the industry with a Bachelors degree, the skills here in Georgia demand a lot of skills with analytical instrumentation and organic synthesis due to the type of jobs that are present here.  I'm a process chemist and want to transfer to another sector to expand my skillset and I also know that my chances of promotion are slim here.

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Yes most things you learn in college are not required if your goal is to just get a quality control job somewhere; but as I said, college is about learning, not training you for a specific task. Because I can name you right now 50 jobs that are "chemistry" related, and in each one of them you will do completely different things. Why would I train you to do 50 different things when I could hopefully just teach you the basics and make you smart enough to learn those things on your own?

You mentioned that getting into chemistry is about learning, you merely reiterated what I claimed - that academia teaches theory, I'm good with theory, I'm prepared for grad school in this sense and academia did it's job here.  However, even entry level positions require fundamental skillsets such as those that I have mentioned.  If you ever had a real job in the industry you would know this.  One's capability with theory has little to do with whether one is employable.

Your notion that the undergraduate program teaches you the " basics " which enables you to do all things   stems from brainwashing.  This is exactly the notion that needs to be dispelled.   Listen carefully, the couple of pages on analytical instrumentation that's learned in school is not the same thing as having a good working knowledge and experience with them.  Most professors don't trust students with these expensive machines.  Also there are only a few organic labs in a university.

Professors are relatively more trusting then are employers with these instrumentation.  Your internship in the industry is not going to get you experience maintaining instrumentation - unless you have had prior experience with them in your professor's lab.

Entry level positions are relatively lower in Georgia, your mentioned salary of $54,000 is exceedingly high even compared to the ACS survey for entry level Bachelors graduates, he or she must have been quite the superstar, Then of course ... you might be making things up. I hope you didn't get this from Payscale, although it was in the lower$ 40,000 when I last checked with them.

#### enahs

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##### Re: A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2008, 09:25:56 AM »
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Yes, see how I said your comment, not you, and my opinion. I am not allowed to have an opinion? I say stupid things all the time too and people call me on it. Humans are fallible. It is perfectly civil to think something is stupid.

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If you ever had a real job in the industry you would know this.
I have done internships at 3 different industry related jobs. But I am not really sure how a college is supposed to afford a boxite refinery plant to teach me how to be an analytical chemist in one....

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Your notion that the undergraduate program teaches you the " basics " which enables you to do all things    stems from brainwashing.  This is exactly the notion that needs to be dispelled.
No wrong. Nobody wants to hire somebody for a position that does not know for instance that ether's are dangerous, or Ionic compounds tend to be soluble in polar solvent, and non-polar compounds tend to be soluble in non-polar solvent, or how to calculate the molarity of a solution one needs to make, or what a mole is, etc etc.

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Listen carefully, the couple of pages on analytical instrumentation that's learned in school is not the same thing as having a good working knowledge and experience with them.  Most professors don't trust students with these expensive machines.  Also there are only a few organic labs in a university.

Not really sure why you expect a school to be able to give you access to all possible instruments. I promise you in your life you are not even close to having used a whole 1% of all possible instruments in chemistry. But spectrophotometer's all work on the basic level on the same principle. Distillations all work on the same basic principle, etc etc. Sure a school will not teach you how to run a large scale industrial distillation process...but who in there right mind would hire anybody for a job to manage a large scale distillation apparatus that has never done small scale distillation and has no understanding of the fundamental principles?

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Your internship in the industry is not going to get you experience maintaining instrumentation
Not true. Every internship is different and every company is different. That is pretty much the only thing I did in one of my internships. It was boring, but the best pain one.

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your mentioned salary of $54,000 is exceedingly high even compared to the ACS survey for entry level Bachelors graduates, he or she must have been quite the superstar, Yes, it is incredibly high for a B.S. degree to start. That was my point, in Georgia there are opportunities. His GPA was average, but he had done the three internships at local refineries of various kinds with me (Boxite/Aluminum, Vanadium). They are also paying for him to get his M.S. at Georgia Tech. I have other friends, and they all work around here or other places that at most make$45,000 a year fresh out of college with a B.S.

But again, every single one of those companies pays for them to get a higher degree if they chose so.

Industry companies willing to spend a lot of money to pay for their employees to go to school more should tell you something. Businessmen do not like to waste money; that should tell you how important education is. Companies want smart employees who have the knowledge to figure problems out on their own (because problems occur), not just do what they are told and trained to do like a monkey.

Again, your comment seems stupid to me.
"Schools do not teach you everything" is essentially what you are saying! Wow! Shocker! You have changed my world!

« Last Edit: August 31, 2008, 09:40:05 AM by enahs »

#### GCT

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##### Re: A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2008, 11:10:32 AM »
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Yes, see how I said your comment, not you, and my opinion. I am not allowed to have an opinion? I say stupid things all the time too and people call me on it. Humans are fallible. It is perfectly civil to think something is stupid.
What on earth does this mean?  Stay out of philosophy.

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I have done internships at 3 different industry related jobs. But I am not really sure how a college is supposed to afford a boxite refinery plant to teach me how to be an analytical chemist in one....

You need to read and understand what was included in the article, I specifically mentioned the two skillsets, one of them was simply analytical instrumentation and by this I am referring to any instrumentation e.g. HPLC not necessarily everything.  Please do not comment without reading the article.

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No wrong. Nobody wants to hire somebody for a position that does not know for instance that ether's are dangerous, or Ionic compounds tend to be soluble in polar solvent, and non-polar compounds tend to be soluble in non-polar solvent, or how to calculate the molarity of a solution one needs to make, or what a mole is, etc etc.
I mentioned that basic skills are necessary e.g. stoichiometry.  Again get in the habit of reading the article before commenting.

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Not really sure why you expect a school to be able to give you access to all possible instruments. I promise you in your life you are not even close to having used a whole 1% of all possible instruments in chemistry. But spectrophotometer's all work on the basic level on the same principle. Distillations all work on the same basic principle, etc etc. Sure a school will not teach you how to run a large scale industrial distillation process...but who in there right mind would hire anybody for a job to manage a large scale distillation apparatus that has never done small scale distillation and has no understanding of the fundamental principles?

Again I am not referring to a universal skillset , but at least one skillset e.g. HPLC.

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Yes, it is incredibly high for a B.S. degree to start. That was my point, in Georgia there are opportunities. His GPA was average, but he had done the three internships at local refineries of various kinds with me (Boxite/Aluminum, Vanadium). They are also paying for him to get his M.S. at Georgia Tech. I have other friends, and they all work around here or other places that at most make $45,000 a year fresh out of college with a B.S.$ 45,000 a year is very high in Georgia for an entry level position unless it's pharma of which there are few.  Are you referring to Chem E. or Chemistry?  If you can get into Georgia Tech then you have a good aptitude for instrumentation to begin with.

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Industry companies willing to spend a lot of money to pay for their employees to go to school more should tell you something. Businessmen do not like to waste money; that should tell you how important education is. Companies want smart employees who have the knowledge to figure problems out on their own (because problems occur), not just do what they are told and trained to do like a monkey.

Companies pay for employees to go to school to get trained on specifics, not on " everything " .  Companies also care about credentials especially it it means paying for a less qualified person with a BS degree to get a MS degree and pay him or her less of a salary rather than higher a more talented MS for higher pay.

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Again, your comment seems stupid to me.
"Schools do not teach you everything" is essentially what you are saying! Wow! Shocker! You have changed my world!

This is emphatic nonsense, I don't need to have this discussion if you keep sounding like a 7 year old.

I'm going to reiterate the basic points once more since you seem to be having trouble understanding the article

-There a few internships available in any university or industry ; more or less depending on where you are.
-Obtain an internship which directly assists you in gaining skillsets in analytical instrumentation and/or organic synthesis.  HPLC is especially important in Georgia.
-Make sure that you gain experience in these skillsets for at least one year.
-If you find yourself with random chores or are not able to obtain an internship, then consider finding another major that is unless your planning to go to graduate school.  Many without internships still do go on to get their BS degree believing that it's somehow going to work out in the industry, I'm here to inform them that it isn't.

Again the context is for those who are in Georgia.  I am advocating for a change in the program.  For example a 2 year course in " HPLC Proficiency " , people in the industry would absolutely love this, it  would definitely be more substantial then a semester of instrumental analysis.

#### enahs

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##### Re: A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2008, 11:34:58 AM »
So your school you went to sucks.
I am glad you mention HPLC.
I have had so much experience with HPLC it is ridiculous.
I have developed so many HPLC methods it is crazy. I did work with the CDC and developed a method that now uses HPLC coupled with MS that is used in laboratories all over the US for evaluation of exposure to neuro-toxins. I have developed so many methods for various research projects, and my name will be appearing on such a large variety of journal articles for years to come because of my method development. I just sent off a manuscript to be published that is nothing but a HPLC method; and am currently in the process of writing three more and hope to have them submitted by the end of the year; where all data is collected by HPLC.

Last Wednesday I assembled and then fixed parts for a 30 year old single injection HPLC for an acquaintance who needed one for just purifying large quantities of a single compound.
I spent Thursday and Friday setting up testing a new HPLC we have in our lab. We now have 4 in our lab. The 3 were not enough. We use HPLC's 24/7 essentially, for which I have developed virtually all the methods.
I spent all day yesterday of my own free time playing with combing a racemic (Chirobiotic-V) and chiral (Symmetry C18) columns to try and improve a method...just for fun, not for pay. It worked too! That is another manuscript I will have to get around to writing sometime!

And if I had not attended college I would not have had the knowledge to understand HPLC's at the level I do. Sure, in college I never learned the software or how to purge the pumps of all the HPLC's I have worked with; but the fundamental knowledge for my success with HPLC method development comes from my fundamental knowledge of chemistry from by B.S. degree. Sounds like the school you went to just sucked; which happens. And the school I got my B.S. from is not exactly spectacular.

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What on earth does this mean?  Stay out of philosophy.
You are getting upset because I express an opinion. If you do not want to hear somebodies opinion do not post on a forum where you solicit an opinion.

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45,000 a year is very high in Georgia for an entry level position unless it's pharma of which there are few.  Are you referring to Chem E. or Chemistry?
Yes, but they are not in Georgia. So $for their positions are not directly comparable, just to illustrate the range. And I said 45 at most. All your other stuff is just silly. You are now just asking for schools to teach "work experience" instead of having to work your way up from the bottom. Again, it is impossible to teach everything and every condition you might come across. You might think it is critical to learn HPLC, but I can come up with so many other jobs in Georgia that a degree in chemistry is required, and that skill set is useless. So why should the field you chose to go into be the standard for your new theory of school, when it only applies to a very small fraction of what people will try and do with the degree? #### GCT • Regular Member • Posts: 9 • Mole Snacks: +0/-3 ##### Re: A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry « Reply #6 on: August 31, 2008, 12:45:37 PM » My school supposedly has the best NRC ranking in Georgia for Chemistry. Yes, the program was terrible for preparing someone for the industry. I appreciate you sharing the line of your work and you seem to be satisfied with what you have attained from school...I'm not, this is my point. I know of a graduate who was an ORISE fellow at the CDC for 2 years after graduating; his pay as an analytical chemist was$ 40,000 i.e. after school , after the ORISE session , and as a CDC employee.  This puts the state of things in Georgia in perspective.

You mentioned that your line of work is redundant in one of your first posts, in this post you sound as if you are a prominent senior principle chemist.  Again, I sense a bit of dishonesty here.

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You are getting upset because I express an opinion. If you do not want to hear somebodies opinion do not post on a forum where you solicit an opinion.

Not upset, you are going into vague philosophical concepts.

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All your other stuff is just silly. You are now just asking for schools to teach "work experience" instead of having to work your way up from the bottom. Again, it is impossible to teach everything and every condition you might come across. You might think it is critical to learn HPLC, but I can come up with so many other jobs in Georgia that a degree in chemistry is required, and that skill set is useless. So why should the field you chose to go into be the standard for your new theory of school, when it only applies to a very small fraction of what people will try and do with the degree?

AGAIN, read the article.  HPLC is required for the majority of positions that are open nowadays in Georgia.  Boy do I wish that I had devoted more time gaining experience with it rather than studying most of the time to get my 3.8 chemistry and math and science g.p.a.  I have no problem with theory whatsoever however , however you are rarely going to be asked about theory on interviews.  I love Chemistry,  just ask Mitch.  I've participated in Chemical Forums ever since he conceived of it.  I was once awarded a Chemistry guru title at http://physicsforums.com .  Getting HPLC experience was obviously not a problem for you, it is for many people here in Georgia.  Since this is such a fundamental skillset in Georgia it should be required for Georgia schools to teach it extensively.

#### enahs

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##### Re: A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2008, 01:18:41 PM »
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You mentioned that your line of work is redundant in one of your first posts, in this post you sound as if you are a prominent senior principle chemist.  Again, I sense a bit of dishonesty here.
I am not sure I understand what you are saying. The redundant work I think you might be referring to is the Internships? But those were industry related. My HPLC experience comes from drug metabolism and development work I started my last semester as an undergrad and am leaving the end of this year.

I guess technically I was principle the senior chemist in the research groups I have been involved in, but these are academic research groups not industry, quite different.

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Boy do I wish that I had devoted more time gaining experience with it rather than studying most of the time to get my 3.8 chemistry and math and science g.p.a.  I have no problem with theory whatsoever however , however you are rarely going to be asked about theory on interviews.
Theory is all you can be expected to know. Of the 4 different HPLC's we have, they are all physically arranged differently, and the software are all very different.

Being able to technically use one does not mean you can use the other. But they all work on the same principle, by understanding the theory of how they work that is what allows me to easily learn the mechanics of the other instruments rapidly and pick them up quickly and be proficient in a short time (and just being good and understanding engRish...never by Shimadzu equipment if you want decent English in your software...!) . And there are plenty of other HPLC's out there I have not used. If you gave me a working HPLC I have never used, and the columns and mobile phases to get a method I have previously developed and used thousands of time, and asked me to get them started in that HPLC, I can. But if I was only trained on one HPLC how to put the samples in the auto samples and hit run on a sample que, I would be useless. And do not forget about all the work that goes into preparing the samples for the HPLC first! Basic chemistry. Developing methods for HPLC is basic chemistry, and theory of HPLC, I.E. should compound A elute before B because it is more or less polar, etc.

The ACS guidelines for a B.S. in Chemistry does include covering the theory in decent detail of how HPLC's work. If your school is funded good enough to have an HPLC for undergrads to use and play with, great. But that is only academic as it is not very likely the HPLC you will play with will be the one you use in a job based on sheer statistics and variety of HPLC's alone.

I am sorry your school let you down, or you feel it let you down (I feel the same in many ways about mine). But to say what you are saying about a degree in Chemistry (or any other science degree) is just ignorant.

Schools are not to teach experience. They are to teach theory. The experience you need for your line of work is only a very small subset of chemistry as a whole, and not everybody at the school you went to would need or want that expierence. Why is what you want special?

#### Dan

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##### Re: A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2008, 02:03:59 PM »
Since this is such a fundamental skillset in Georgia it should be required for Georgia schools to teach it extensively.

As I understand it, your point is that getting a degree in chemistry at a school in Georgia will not teach you all the skills you need to work in the industry in Georgia. I have no problem with that and it doesn't surprise me that this is the case.

What I do take issue with is that you seem to be calling for the abolishment of a general "chemistry" course and replace it with a "chemistry for industry in Georgia" course. I don't understand why you want such a narrowly focussed course in place, or how an 18 year old prospective student could decide that what they ultimately wanted to do as a career was work in Georgia's chemical industry - it would surely be very unpopular. After gaining a degree in chemistry people do all sorts of things, not just work for the local chemistry firms. Maybe it's different there, but in the UK most chemistry graduates relocate to other areas, often abroad, some go into industry, some stay in acadaemia, and alot never use their chemical knowledge ever again and get a high-flying desk job. I'm sure there are plenty of graduates in Georgia who never look at an HPLC machine, perhaps they choose to persue a career in theoretical quantum chemistry in Switzerland? Would it not be unfair to disadvantage them by forcing them to do advanced HPLC courses when they want to do advanced quantum mechanics.

I think a chemistry degree should provide a good grounding in all areas of chemistry and allow a graduate to persue a career in whatever particular flavour of the subject they wish.
My research: Google Scholar and Researchgate

#### GCT

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##### Re: A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2008, 06:22:28 PM »
Since this is such a fundamental skillset in Georgia it should be required for Georgia schools to teach it extensively.

As I understand it, your point is that getting a degree in chemistry at a school in Georgia will not teach you all the skills you need to work in the industry in Georgia. I have no problem with that and it doesn't surprise me that this is the case.

What I do take issue with is that you seem to be calling for the abolishment of a general "chemistry" course and replace it with a "chemistry for industry in Georgia" course. I don't understand why you want such a narrowly focussed course in place, or how an 18 year old prospective student could decide that what they ultimately wanted to do as a career was work in Georgia's chemical industry - it would surely be very unpopular. After gaining a degree in chemistry people do all sorts of things, not just work for the local chemistry firms. Maybe it's different there, but in the UK most chemistry graduates relocate to other areas, often abroad, some go into industry, some stay in acadaemia, and alot never use their chemical knowledge ever again and get a high-flying desk job. I'm sure there are plenty of graduates in Georgia who never look at an HPLC machine, perhaps they choose to persue a career in theoretical quantum chemistry in Switzerland? Would it not be unfair to disadvantage them by forcing them to do advanced HPLC courses when they want to do advanced quantum mechanics.

I think a chemistry degree should provide a good grounding in all areas of chemistry and allow a graduate to persue a career in whatever particular flavour of the subject they wish.

This is definitely more constructive criticism than " stupid", "ridiculous", "ignorant", and "silly " by " you know who ".  Enahs, I honestly don't understand how you could have authored a single article in a journal, you have no sense of formality whatsoever.

Dan , you're the first one to understand the point of my post, thank you for actually reading into the article.  And by your commentary I have concluded that the tone of the article needs to be modified....I am not calling for the abolishment of the current programs.  I am calling for a separate program that is soley for people who wish to obtain a job in the industry who have obtained a Bachelors degree in chemistry.  This program should be slightly more condensed in theory and more hands on with respect to instrumentation and organic synthesis.  This program should emphasize skillsets.  What would be your opinion on such a program?

#### Dan

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##### Re: A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2008, 08:27:56 PM »
OK, first of all I will point out that I am fairly ignorant of the structure higher education outside of the UK, so what I'm going to say here may not be entirely true when it comes to the issues you raise.

I think that, in principle, the idea of a more vocational chemistry program is not a bad one. The problem I see is that it would have to strike a balance between theory and practice. Theory is vital. I strongly believe that a good grounding in all areas of chemistry is essential for an aspiring chemist, regardless of the branch they wish persue for a career. I have not derived an equation for osmotic potential, calculated the energy levels of the rotational states of HCl or interpreted X-ray powder diffraction data for cerium oxide since completing my undergraduate degree. I am currently a PhD student in organic synthesis. Do I view the work I put into the aforementioned tasks, which I will probably never do again, as a waste of time. Absolutely not. It is important to be aware of chemistry as a whole, to have this broader awareness in the subject gives you a deeper understanding of it and ultimately will make you a better chemist. It develops the way in which you think and attack problems, beyond knowledge it gives you skills that you can apply in other situations, it helps you learn to learn.

I think the lack of practical skills is a problem if you stop at a basic degree. In the UK it is extremely common to do a masters' degree directly after your batchelors, and for experimental sciences this essentially means a year (or two) in a lab and a short thesis, and can involve industrial placements. In these programs you do learn the kinds of practical skills required for industry. What I'm saying is: I think it's better to do more practical work in addition to a comparitively broad chemistry degree than to cut out theory and put in more practical work. In the UK, at least for organic synthesis in industry or acadaemia, you would be foolish to apply for a competitive position unless you had a research-based masters' degree under your belt (unless you had a high 1st class degree from the University of Awesome). My issue with a vocational programme is that I think (a) a lack of a broad theoretical background is a disadvantge for any chemist regardless of their specialisation, and (b) practical skills for any given position in industry are best taught by that industry. A chemist from a more theory-based background can be effectiviely taught practical skills in industry. In contrast, industry is not the best place to catch up on theory. Get the balance wrong and a vocational degree could leave you limited to more technician-like roles.

There are programs around that have a more industrial slant, which incorporate industrial training into the usual style chemistry degree. There are numerous universities here offering "Chemistry with a year in Industry". These are programs in which you do the normal full degree plus an extra year in industry, but with no additional qualifications on paper, but you do get the experience. You can also do your degree whilst working in industry. I met a chemist at Pfizer when I was doing some work experience who was getting her education paid for by Pfizer and doing the degree part-time whilst working for them - a process which was due to take 5 years (for a batchelors).

I think nowardays it is almost necessary to go beyond the batchelors if you wan't to get into the industry and be prepared to put in an extra year or so to get the practical experience. These are jobs that are getting more and more competitive and I dont think cutting corners on theory is the answer. Anyone set on industry should be actively looking for internships during vacation periods - and not just locally, and be prepared to study for a masters' degree or do a longer batchelors that includes a placement. The oppertunities are there but you have to look for them.
My research: Google Scholar and Researchgate

#### Yggdrasil

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##### Re: A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2008, 10:36:24 PM »
I only got halfway through the article and stopped because black text on a bright orange background is unreadable.  My eyes are still freaking out now.

#### DrCMS

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##### Re: A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2008, 06:53:33 AM »
I think it's time I joined in here.

First a bit of background on me:
I'm from the UK.  I have a degree and PhD in chemistry, completed in 1995.  My degree included two placements working in industry for 5-6 months each. I have worked in the UK chemical industry for the last 13 years. I have worked for 3 different companies, 1st an international fine chemical manufacturer, 2nd a small dyestuffs manufacturer/importer and currently a contract manufacturer specialising in polymers.

GCT - you make some good points badly.
As far as I can make out your real problem is you are finding it hard to get a job in the chemical industry in Georgia and the pay is low even though you have what you consider to be a good degree in chemistry.

Welcome to the real world.  1st degrees are not worth a huge amount in chemistry.  They teach you the basics and are easy to get, harder than most 1st degrees but still easy.  I wouldn't trust a new graduate in our lab without supervision and would keep them well away from the pilot plant for quite a few months.  I wouldn't send them on a vocational course though I'd train them in house or more likely recruit someone with some industrial experience.  No course in going to suit every job.  I think any academic course trying to address the needs of industry is going to be a waste of time and effort.  Academics do not understand industry.  Who other than you is going to do this 2 year training course on the Chemical industry in Georgia?  You want it to cover HPLC and organic synthesis.  OK how much theory and how much practical hands on?  What HPLC instruments, what software, what columns, what types of separations? what synthesis? repeating a literature prep or designing your own? what scale? what kind of work up and purification?  what analysis? what is success? can it be scaled up? how can it be modified to be scaled up?
There are loads on loads of variable on just those two area's that mean any course will be a compromise.  It is not going to work, can you not see the problems with what you are suggesting?  I guess the answer is no because you do not have the experience and knowledge to see what a narrow little corner of chemistry you're describing.

If you want to get a 1st degree and walk into a high paying job then don't do chemistry become an accountant or some other boring job.

Sometimes I think I should've done a different subject and taken a different career path but I picked a subject I liked.  Who knows how it would've turned out studying and then working in a field I have little interest in other than the pay?

#### GCT

• Regular Member
• Posts: 9
• Mole Snacks: +0/-3
##### Re: A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2008, 06:20:37 PM »
Quote

My issue with a vocational programme is that I think (a) a lack of a broad theoretical background is a disadvantge for any chemist regardless of their specialisation, and (b) practical skills for any given position in industry are best taught by that industry. A chemist from a more theory-based background can be effectiviely taught practical skills in industry. In contrast, industry is not the best place to catch up on theory. Get the balance wrong and a vocational degree could leave you limited to more technician-like roles.

I  agree with you about the need for theory a 100 % .  A chemist should at least be aware of the essential theories that make up the respective fields, this is essential when one comes across a problem which requires more than one type of interpretation to solve it.

But how does the industry separate one who has versed himself or herself well with theory versus one who hasn't?  The thing is they don't really pay attention to the gpa, as long as one has a decent gpa, this factor is ruled out in most cases.  If they need a stellar scientist then they recruit one who has already had success in research while in school.  As for the rest of us, especially those of us at entry level, the only credential that matters is revealed by the question

What skillsets can you bring into this company?

People at Bachelors level don't have extensive experience with skillsets, especially in analytical instrumentation.  So who actually acquires these " entry level positions " ?  From oversees.  So my point is to that a degree is needed which is devised especially for people who simply want to obtain a Bachelors degree for obtaining a modest stable job in the industry.  There needs to be some level of correspondence between academia and industry.

Academia - Yes , we have so and so here who has been trained extensively in performing the basic organic synthesis routines and we have certified him or her on this skill.

Industry - That's great, he or she would be a big help in so and so's lab.

What usually happens is this

Industry - Do you have experience with analytical instrumentation?  Do you have experience in organic synthesis?  Do you have experience in method development?

Graduate - Actually, I have had such experience in my chemistry lab in school, I'm learned in the theory behind these methods and am confident that I can become proficient with them quickly.

Industry - How many months have you had experience working with so and so instrumentation in these labs?

Graduate - Actually, it was only for one lab session, we had to employ quantum mechanics and an FTIR to find the bond length of gaseous Acetylene.

Industry - Yeah... Thank you for your time, we should be contacting you within the next few days.

Man from India - Sir, I have two years till I obtain my Bachelors, yet I have spent 12 hours a day routinely performing these so and so routines at a local chemical factory.  I have these sores all over my body to prove it.

Industry - You're hired.

The problem is that industry believes that the people oversees are more skilled.  Grades are trivial, the moral of the story here is that industry is not open minded unless hiring for a superstar, otherwise they want to know affirmatively what concrete skillsets one can bring to the company.  Is it that students oversees simply have more resources than here?  Do they each get their own GCs?   Anyways what is needed is some type of a certification program for the various skillsets ; anything from HPLC to organic synthesis or a small aspect of it.  This would be a huge improvement in the correspondence between industry and academia because of it.  Which would mean more people enrolling in schools.

Quote

There are programs around that have a more industrial slant, which incorporate industrial training into the usual style chemistry degree. There are numerous universities here offering "Chemistry with a year in Industry". These are programs in which you do the normal full degree plus an extra year in industry, but with no additional qualifications on paper, but you do get the experience. You can also do your degree whilst working in industry. I met a chemist at Pfizer when I was doing some work experience who was getting her education paid for by Pfizer and doing the degree part-time whilst working for them - a process which was due to take 5 years (for a batchelors).

This is more along the lines of what I envisioned.  There's no such thing here.

Is there such a thing out there as " HPLC Certification " or " GC Certification " out there?  Anyways the distinction between you and I seems to be that you believe that all chemists are ultimately be destined to become doctorates or at least obtain their Masters.  In Georgia, however, the rumor is that a Masters doesn't confer an advantage to the Bachelors.  One only pursues a Masters if going for a doctorate.  I would advocate for the implementation of a separate type of degree which would encourage people with more of a financial interest to enroll in the Chemistry programs at local Universities.

#### GCT

• Regular Member
• Posts: 9
• Mole Snacks: +0/-3
##### Re: A Warning To All Students Who Are Pursuing An Undergraduate Degree In Chemistry
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2008, 06:21:55 PM »
I think it's time I joined in here.

First a bit of background on me:
I'm from the UK.  I have a degree and PhD in chemistry, completed in 1995.  My degree included two placements working in industry for 5-6 months each. I have worked in the UK chemical industry for the last 13 years. I have worked for 3 different companies, 1st an international fine chemical manufacturer, 2nd a small dyestuffs manufacturer/importer and currently a contract manufacturer specialising in polymers.

GCT - you make some good points badly.
As far as I can make out your real problem is you are finding it hard to get a job in the chemical industry in Georgia and the pay is low even though you have what you consider to be a good degree in chemistry.

Welcome to the real world.  1st degrees are not worth a huge amount in chemistry.  They teach you the basics and are easy to get, harder than most 1st degrees but still easy.  I wouldn't trust a new graduate in our lab without supervision and would keep them well away from the pilot plant for quite a few months.  I wouldn't send them on a vocational course though I'd train them in house or more likely recruit someone with some industrial experience.  No course in going to suit every job.  I think any academic course trying to address the needs of industry is going to be a waste of time and effort.  Academics do not understand industry.  Who other than you is going to do this 2 year training course on the Chemical industry in Georgia?  You want it to cover HPLC and organic synthesis.  OK how much theory and how much practical hands on?  What HPLC instruments, what software, what columns, what types of separations? what synthesis? repeating a literature prep or designing your own? what scale? what kind of work up and purification?  what analysis? what is success? can it be scaled up? how can it be modified to be scaled up?
There are loads on loads of variable on just those two area's that mean any course will be a compromise.  It is not going to work, can you not see the problems with what you are suggesting?  I guess the answer is no because you do not have the experience and knowledge to see what a narrow little corner of chemistry you're describing.

If you want to get a 1st degree and walk into a high paying job then don't do chemistry become an accountant or some other boring job.

Sometimes I think I should've done a different subject and taken a different career path but I picked a subject I liked.  Who knows how it would've turned out studying and then working in a field I have little interest in other than the pay?