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Topic: Choosing my major.. am I on the wrong path?  (Read 5476 times)

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Offline THF

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Choosing my major.. am I on the wrong path?
« on: February 15, 2010, 10:27:14 AM »
Hello all. Recently I've been stressing about whether chemistry is the right program for me. Currently I'm in my 2nd year about to finish up in April. The one thing that really concerns me are the labs. All the lecture portions, the midterms and tests I do fine in, but get me in a lab coat and I feel extremely uncomfortable. I feel like my lab skills are severely lacking. Every analytical lab I'm not as accurate as I need to be. In every organic lab I'm getting my hand held by the TA or else asking people at my bench "what do we do now?". This is concerning because no one is going to hire someone with a chemistry degree who can't produce in the lab, right? Another thing - I've talked to people who've said that it's terribly difficult to find a job with just a Bsc. I don't want to be forced to go to grad school just to be able to support myself

This is why possibly engineering might be a better fit for me, whether it be chemical or something else. I think I can handle the rigorous coursework. I am curious though as to what a chemical engineer does on the day to day though I have some vague idea. The picture the chem profs at my school have painted for me when I graduate is a 9-5 at a lab bench doing research or carrying out reactions the lab head tells me to do - not sure thats for me

If any engineers could offer insight to what their program was like or even what sort of work they do now, I would be interested in hearing it. If any chemists could offer any advice to me or tell me what sort of work they do now that'd be cool too. Thanks

Offline llagetias

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Re: Choosing my major.. am I on the wrong path?
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2010, 07:25:16 PM »
 Welcome to my world. I am not so great at lab work either. About chemical engineering though, I am not a chemical engineer but I was at a summer program where we did some chemical engineering. What chemical engineers basically do (at least in a university setting) from my experience, is find ways to develop and make all kinds of materials for advanced to everyday use (shaving cream, contact lenses ect.) In industry the setting may be more regimented, but it depends on what you are interested in.

Offline philonossis

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Re: Choosing my major.. am I on the wrong path?
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2010, 09:20:49 AM »
I am not in the field you appeal to for answers but I have gone through some similar situations.

I tried photography as a career path and felt much as you did in the photo lab.  There are however, many pro photographers who just do the shooting and give the pics to their lab technicians for touch ups, etc.

When I took college biology, I had a bad time in the lab because the TA was a psycho. There are many unsavory aspects of university life, so you might find a workaround. It's possible to take the lab after taking the theoretical course at the same level and perhaps at a different institution.

The "lab" is the basic data generating point for many fields.  My opinion is that, if you don't like the lab, you don't like the field, although it might take some years of experience in a field to realize this. In the days of film photography, a photography who did not do his own lab work would never get exactly what he wanted. On the other hand, a math professor of mine once said that in computer work, the further away you were from a computer the more money you made. So I am wondering if mathematics might be a better fit, unless there is a special reason you are drawn to chemistry or engineering, which also has a strong lab component.

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