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Offline Jasim

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Re: Chemistry: terrible profession that ruined my life
« Reply #90 on: September 24, 2012, 11:24:48 AM »
My apologies if I came off harsh in my last post. The 'solution' of moving may be out of reach for many people. I was a lucky one and only unemployed/underemployed for a few months.

NPR's Planet Money recently did an article on a computer model that Moody's (a big economic data analysis group) created to give an idea of just how the unemployment rate would be affected by various changes in market, global economy, policy changes....almost anything you can think of.

See: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/09/14/161153421/even-if-youre-all-powerful-its-hard-to-fix-the-economy

Unfortunately, the result of the analysis didn't create much hope. We are living in a different world than even just a few years ago. It's not just chemists and chemical industries that are suffering.

My heart goes out to those that are still struggling, especially those with families to support. Vent on here if you need to, I didn't mean to criticize that aspect of this thread.

But I also think that being successful, or successfully pulling yourself out of a rut requires persistence. It has been said time and again that in today's world we have to continue to learn and grow our skill base in order to keep ourselves marketable. Gone are the times of being employed by a single company for 40+ years and retiring at a set age with a pension. That just doesn't happen anymore. Today's workforce is expected to be more mobile, having a constantly updated skill-set, and not be opposed to moving from job-to-job or company-to-company.

I guess what I want to convey is that there is work out there. You may not become rich, but if you play it smart financially, keep learning, never give up, then I believe you can find a niche to make a comfortable life for yourself and family.

Good luck to all those who are still un/under-employed.

Offline Doc Oc

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Re: Chemistry: terrible profession that ruined my life
« Reply #91 on: October 01, 2012, 08:54:07 AM »
Jasim, I think you bring valuable insight and advice to people on this matter.

I generally try to take it easy on people who are struggling because I know how bad the situation is and I've seen it really wreak havoc in peoples' lives (ie; marriages ending because the couple couldn't find work in the same state).  I also remember having my own existential crisis when I was unemployed for a while, wondering if I'd be a PhD chemist working at a coffee shop because I couldn't secure a position.  I persisted and landed a great job, but I know also know it's temporary and that at some point I'll need to look for a new job.  As you said, it's a scary job climate out there right now, I just hope I can get to a place where I don't have to worry about the next 5 years all the time.

Offline sschoe2

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Re: Chemistry: terrible profession that ruined my life
« Reply #92 on: November 25, 2012, 11:01:14 AM »
I don't subscribe to the dismissive and denialist arguments made in this thread. The idea that the people working crap jobs or are unemployed are just hacks who can't cut it is just arrogant, derogatory, blame-the-victim nonsense. For the record I hold a pretty decent job now. I managed to find a smaller company that doesn't treat their science staff like disposable pipette tips.

I've also watched a lot of gifted scientists taken advantage of, tossed out onto the streets, and not hired in favor of cronies and people that BSed the bimbos in HR during the interview.

I look at the future of chemistry in this country and don't see a whole lot to be hopeful about. I watch big pharma's like Pfizer and Abbott move their research to China and India and use the surplus of scientists to abuse the heck out of the ones here at home. Abbott especially is in the process of laying off most of their research staff and replacing them with permatemps who get no benefits, paid less because a parasite agency is siphoning their pay, and can be dropped with 1 phone call at any time for any reason. It is not just pharma. Abbott, Baxter, Kraft, Pepsi, Conagra, and all the larger companies seem to be following the same model.

I also see plants closing down because it is cheaper to open them in places where the EPA and OSHA aren't looking over their shoulder and you can simply bribe third world officials to look the other way.

I've watched many of my colleagues some of whom were smarter than myself give up on the field and go into teaching or to business/law/health care after reaching the same conclusions as myself.

I definitely would not advice anyone to consider a science degree and would not even allow my own children to do so.

Fishy

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Re: Chemistry: terrible profession that ruined my life
« Reply #93 on: November 25, 2012, 03:46:28 PM »
Love the "treat their science staff like disposable pipette tips" comment!
I'm a plastic pipette!  Please hire me!   :D

LAE91-6

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Re: Chemistry: terrible profession that ruined my life
« Reply #94 on: April 04, 2013, 08:55:07 PM »
I totally disagree about your stance regarding not getting as science degree. It basically saved my life. When i was in high school I hated Chemistry, loved Biology and wanted to be a doctor. So my grades and ACT score (also my ethnic background) were barely good enough to get into UW-Madison the best public school in the state and one of the best public schools in the country. A lot of good it did me! Nobody warned me about how big a drug and party school it was and i left after three years with a 1.00GPA and a class I felony. I thought my life was over and that I would never get a job anywhere. I had to go to a community college back in my hometown of Milwaukee to gt my grades good enough to get into UW-Milwaukee, a real 4 year school. While at the community college, I lied and said I was good at chemistry in order to become an SI leader (community college TA). The prof I worked for smelled my bulls&$# and sat me down after each class to teach me chemistry from the beginning. I realized that I was not only good at chemistry but I actually enjoyed it especially teaching it. Even though my Dad was a higher up in Milwaukee public schools, he couldnt get me a teaching job with a felony. So i decided to take my chances and get a BioChem degree. It was the hardest thing I ever did and it took me 6 years to get my B.S. but i did it! I was immediately contacted by staffing agencies and was begging to get any science job I could, i even worked a demolition job for $10/hr while I waited for an interview. After two failed interviews for QC positions (they basically told me that you dont want this job you will b bored to death) i had a good interview with a large cleaning products company. I got a 6 month contract for $14/hr and by the grace of God a full time position opened up at the end of the contract and I beat out 2 other contractors who had been there longer than I was. I just celebrated 1 yr with the company as a full time employee and have already travelled to 3 different States plus a 2 week trip to the Netherlands and Switzerland all in my first year! I started off working a maximum of 19 hrs/ week at $8/hr as a chem tutor and now I make $23/hr salaried with benefits and a 401k. I am a project technical leader and have international travel under my belt all in my first year! I would never get hired anywhere as a convicted felon without a science degree. It is so worth it

Offline sschoe2

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Re: Chemistry: terrible profession that ruined my life
« Reply #95 on: April 27, 2013, 08:51:05 AM »
I see things differently.

As you found out the industry has been taken over by staffing agencies who are used as shell companies by businesses wanting to hire chemists cheap, without benefits, and can be let go with only 1 phone call. Basically a cheap disposable workforce you can treat like dirt or as a Kelly ad from the 70's showcased a "The Never-Never Girl" — a worker who never takes a vacation, asks for a raise or "costs you for fringe benefits."

$14/hr is $29k and with a staffing agency without any benefits that is roughly the equivalent of lower $20's. Not much better than min wage jobs and certainly not something to brag about especially for someone who completed among the most difficult BS degrees (not as tough as engineering or computer science but no comparison to most business and lib arts majors). 

They were probably willing to overlook the felony because the staffing agencies are really desperate to get very intelligent college grads to work their pathetically underpaying crap jobs and to stay in them for any length of time when most such people have so many better options. The felony limits your abilities to quit and find better work. You might want to see if it can be expunged in the future. It is the same with H1'bs business like that they have limited abilities to quit and find better work so they can underpay and over work them with limited risk of them quitting.

Even your full benefits job in the lower $40's k for as long as you have it and don't get laid off and end up back doing crapo temp jobs is about what you can make skipping college and working fast food or retail and working up to manager. Heck I worked with a renowned cheese chemist from Kraft who led his own group and got laid off and ended up a never never girl/guy earing $40k no benefits =~ $35k. That salary I'd call mediocre. You can live ok as a single. You can afford ~ a $100k house which is pretty much no house in most metro areas or a small dingy house in most rural or far outer suburban areas.

Given that only ~30% of the nation has a Bachelor's degree at all and most aren't difficult STEM degrees I wouldn't hesitate to place anyone with a science degree in the top 10% of intelligence/most educated. I think they should aspire to better than being a never, never guy/girl with the quality of life of a fast food manager.

Offline Pharmmech2222222

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Re: Chemistry: terrible profession that ruined my life
« Reply #96 on: April 27, 2013, 11:06:03 AM »
I won't be as harsh as OP. I'm glad for my degree in chemistry. The scientific trainings provided by my education changed the way I viewed the  natural world. However, I do have to agree with OP that chemistry as a career has some problems.

I hated chemistry in high school because of a poor teacher. I took a year of general chemistry classes in college as part of my degree requirement for physics in a major midwestern university in the United States. I love chemistry so much, I changed my major to chemistry. I completed all my degree requirements in three years and decided to stay another year to take non-required electives. I graduated with cum laude in 2007.

My first job out of college was with a small pharmaceutical company as an analytical chemist. That job required me to be at work ten hours a day. I worked 50 hours a week. No, I didn't take one hour lunch break ( more like 15 minutes). I was naive, and I didn't know any better so I accepted that job as a non-exempted salary position. That worked out wonderfully for the company because they don't have to pay me a dime overtime for the extra 10 hours of free work they gotten out of me every week.

I worked hard. The company wants me to be come in at 6am. Done. The company wants me to come in on weekend. Done. The company wants me to take out the trash. Done. The company wants me to work in mind numbing boring production line putting vials into boxes. Done. What did I gotten out of the company? Effective wage of $12/hour with benefits. I've gotten 10% raise the first year, then no raise for next two years. The only reason I stayed that long was the wonderful co-workers and friends I made there.

Three years later, I finally found another pharmaceutical job that's not a shitty contract position with no benefits. I moved to middle of nowhere in one of the west coast states. That job pays well ($27/hour with benefits plus bonus). I'm finally able to think about my future by contributing to my 401k retirement fund. Unfortunately, after two years I was laid off along with 10% of workforce when few projects the company worked on failed the clinical trials.

I have been jobless for the last half year. During that time I have interviews with multiple companies nationwide.

The labs that offered jobs were either:
1. In middle of nowhere
2. Short-term contract position with no benefits
3. Terrible work environments with low pay(i.e. mind numbing boring QC jobs). 
4. All of the above.

The conclusion I drawn from my job search was that I should stop doing science and change my career. I will further contribute to the "STEM Shortage" by leaving my profession. I'm fortunate that I don't have a family to support and I have saving that allowed the flexiblity to change career. There are a lot of people out there who are not so fortunate. It would be catastrophe if I have a family to support. Think how terrible it would be if I have children and I need to move every few years all over the country just to find a job.

I only have experience in pharma industry. For those who don't know, the pharma industry is in terrible situation right now. Google "patent cliff"  There were massive laid off of scientists in the last few years as pharma companies tried to save money in face of inevitable revenue short-fall. Tens of thousands of experienced chemists were laid off. More and more pharmaceutical raw materials and R&D functions were outsourced to India and China. The few jobs that remained were either high risk contract positions(i.e. they can fire you at any time) or "purple squirrel" positions advertised by big pharma.

Even if you can find a job, advancement as a B.S. level chemist is extremely limited. Most common response to that glass ceiling is move into management. But seriously, how many managers do you need? Not everyone get be a manager. Don't even bother to do MS. In most of the job postings I saw, MS in chemistry is equivalent to two years of work experience. PhD is  not immune to job insecurity. PhD level jobs will pay more, but there are fewer of them. It's more difficult to find job as PhD. I have met many PhD chemists who have to move across the country with their young children to pursue a new job. Or the PhD chemist who leave their family in another state and could only see them on weekend after 7 hours commute.

I love science, I love chemistry, unfortunately at this point it's just not a very good career choice. I also have to disagree with the dismissal attitudes some of the posters expressed here. The job market is terrible out there. Telling someone to work harder is unhelpful.

I want to end this post with some good news. Hopefully, the cheap natural gas created by fracking will motivate some chemical companies to move their productions back to U.S. and create more jobs in chemical industry.

 
« Last Edit: April 27, 2013, 11:19:15 AM by Pharmmech2222222 »

Offline sschoe2

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Re: Chemistry: terrible profession that ruined my life
« Reply #97 on: April 27, 2013, 01:24:41 PM »
Yep I'm fortunate to work in the food industry and for a small company that doesn't just hire never never people: who never get benefits, never get a raise, never get career development, never get promoted, never get a 401k, never get paid time off or even sick leave, better never get pregnant or have family issues. The only never for me is noone in my family will ever major in science again.  If I ever lose my current job I won't even bother looking for another job in this never never profession.

Offline 408

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Re: Chemistry: terrible profession that ruined my life
« Reply #98 on: April 27, 2013, 09:12:36 PM »
You are such a downer.  Quit harshing our science buzz man.

Offline klsgmc

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Re: Chemistry: terrible profession that ruined my life
« Reply #99 on: May 02, 2013, 11:22:16 AM »
There are times when I can say I regretted getting my undergraduate degree in chemistry. My first job I took was for Schering-Plough working as an analytical chemist through a contract agency (in 2007) at a "whopping" 18 dollars an hour. I had taken the year off after graduating, and it was just about the only thing I could find in terms of job prospects. I stayed in that crummy contract position and made friends and ended up getting taken on full time for about 45,000 dollars a year by that December by Schering-Plough. The benefits were incredible, and the 401k contribution was excellent as well. They also ended up paying for my joint masters degree in biomedical science and business (MS/MBA), so it ended up being a worthwhile endeavor.

After finishing my masters degrees there, I ended up sticking with them until February of 2011 after receiving notice that the site was going to close down. This was right around the time that my side business started to kick off a bit (work with Google AdSense), and I took a job in business development for a start-up generic company.

I still have mixed feelings about my undergrad, especially how slowly I started off. I'm 29 now though and I just bought a nice house in a beautiful area with a pretty sizable down payment. I have no doubts that the skills I learned in chemistry enabled me to get as far professionally as I have.

whoami

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Re: Chemistry: terrible profession that ruined my life
« Reply #100 on: May 24, 2013, 06:11:20 AM »
to be honest, chemistry is just useless avoid it if you can....pay is just too bad that even a coop in engineering pays way more than chemistry grads....I really didn't know why I chose it at the first place. Coop usually prefer engineering students because they have more application than ones in sciences.

Doing all those labs that waste your valuable time that you could actually study is just ridiculous. Very time consuming, each of them takes about 10 hours a week at least. I wonder how profs expect you to come prepared to class if you have 3 labs a week.

Come on, getting below 50k.....is really not my goal of my life...I am looking at 75K+ a year at least.... I am glad I left chemistry now and got into law school. really enjoying it because its more related to life. f&#$ chemistry unless you really love it and money is nothing for you.

On the other hand, I am looking into moving back to asia after late 20s and a science degree even a masters degree is totally useless because there are no industries at all. Its just all about business.

Offline Corribus

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Re: Chemistry: terrible profession that ruined my life
« Reply #101 on: May 24, 2013, 12:46:36 PM »
I am looking at 75K+ a year at least....
As a PhD chemist I make comfortably over 75K a year, not including benefits.  I say this so that people interested in chemistry aren't turned off by all the posts that say the pay for chemistry jobs isn't good.  Whether this salary is worth the time and sweat put into getting the degree is of course a matter of some subjectivity.  True, there are no Bentleys in my near future, but I do very much enjoy my job, and you can't put a dollar value on that.
What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?  - Richard P. Feynman

Faith_C

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Re: Chemistry: terrible profession that ruined my life
« Reply #102 on: May 29, 2013, 06:13:41 AM »
I would just like to share my chemistry story. I chose to major in chemistry because I had been so passionate about it in high school. I loved science and I couldn't see myself choosing a major in anything but science. However, there comes a point where your interests and the dynamic of your personality collide. For me, the information overload was utterly overwhelming. I recall a time where I burst into tears in front of my professor because I was so stressed out from the mountain of work before me. This caused me to become slightly bitter toward my chosen field, and my passion began to diminish. I couldn't think of anything else I could do, and I didn't want to be in school forever switching from one major to another like some friends did, so I stuck it out and got my degree. I felt the pressure to find a related job in the field, so I did, and worked for a couple months on contract as a lab tech at a very large and notorious home products company. I enjoyed my coworkers, the environment and the area, but after a couple of months I had to return to my hometown for personal reasons. I probably would not have minded staying there had I not had other issues to deal with. The person who had the job before me had been hired on full-time in another position at the company, and everyone there was friendly, passionate and cultured. The pay was not great, but that has never been a deciding factor for me.

Back in my hometown, I got a lab tech job at a glass company. The difference between the two environments was astounding. I sincerely feel that location is everything. Certain areas attract certain types of people and/or certain areas have an effect (positive or negative) on people. Either way, the culture at this place was horrific. Everybody was uncultured, self-centered and juvenile. No one seemed to have the talent of diplomacy. Complaining, usually as an attempt at a "joke," was prevalent. The management was uninvolved, one-dimensional and lazy. There was just this overall feeling that everyone was unhappy and hated their job. Again, I sincerely feel that location is everything. Yes, it was my hometown, but I am a realist and feel no sympathetic ties to it. I have had other jobs in both places and have experienced the same attitude/culture trends, across the board.

While working at this job, I reached a place existentially where I asked myself what I was really doing in this field. I had long since lost my passion for research and chemistry as a profession, and I was working a demeaning, unfulfilling contract job when I was *supposed* to be starting my "career." In a series of rapid-fire job changes, I finally got a part-time marketing-arena job that I actually enjoy. It is minimum wage, but it is one-hundred times more fulfilling than the lab tech job I had making $17/hr. Right now I am so glad to be doing something I actually enjoy, with enough free-time to read up on my new hobby, science, that I haven't even given much thought to possible career changes. (I must point out that I have a partner who is able to help out financially, and we do live quite cheaply.)

My advice to anyone out there with a degree in chemistry, or anything else, who is not 100% sure that they want to continue in their field, would be to be simply honest and true to yourself, and to do what *you* feel is right for *you*, and to not do something "out of obligation" or because someone else wished it upon you. I have found that I enjoy learning about science, but I don't think I can "do" science. Making a hobby your career is a good way to ruin that hobby. Furthermore, consider the location of a potential job as a good indicator for how that company's culture is going to be, and determine how important that is to you. It seems like areas where arts and culture are important tend to have better people. Just sayin'.

I just wanted to share my story, because I wish I had known a lot of things before trying to get a "chemistry" job. I was actually quite clueless. Maybe chemistry programs should require research credits or co-ops, to expose chemistry majors to the real world. Maybe it would be beneficial to speak with a professor or with someone at the career center before entering the job market, to get a better feel for what you are getting into. My last comment will be that, if you do decide to leave chemistry as a profession, don't feel guilty about it. Being unhappy is so not worth the "use" of your college degree. :)

thephysicsdude

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Re: Chemistry: terrible profession that ruined my life
« Reply #103 on: July 18, 2013, 10:37:50 AM »
Hmmph, interesting thread.   well, i'm a chemistry major going for his b.s. degree in an acs accredited program at a state school.  its sort of like  factory for turning out college degrees though. my gpa sucks and I am not going to grad school, lol never wanted to become a slave.   

  I have not graduated yet and am 30 years old.   been going part time, like 3-7 credits a semester and working full time jobs paying close to min. wage, averaging 32-56( did that number for  a year) hours a week.    im hedging my bets by graduating with no loans or credit card debt since theres no ironclad guarantee of a job after school to justify this degree.   

 like my dad told me, this degree is like machine bought by company to perform so that it makes money.  yet, the cost of college gets lost in purchasing the machine with the high student debt and no guarantee of a job after school unless it s a good major.   

chemistry is great, the labs are so exciting and thought provoking.    used to subscribe to chemical and engineering news but it was retarded and borderline useless, unless you're a minority.  plus, their facts and job figures were dubious statistics at best.   

i mean, one guy I know graduate with a 2.4 gpa in chemistry and was told, haha yeah you're not getting a job.  well he did, at food warehouse testing stuff, lol, making half way decent money.   and I hear about some ph.ds who graduate and get a good job in industry.   and I heard the district manager of rent a car in my city makes a lot of dough and he has a chem degree, bachelors only lol.  he worked his way up the rungs.   still the stats suck and a lot of it is even worse for too many of us during this so called recovery.    another guy I know graduated from rit with his nuclear physics ph.d (yeah like those guys in the big bang theory) and couldn't get a job with his huge debt.   

so don't despair guys.    all a college degree is is a gateway, nothing more.   it's what you make of it.   so mi say get the science degree and then take the frickin blinders off and see there's no guarantee of anything after college so be smart about it. 

Offline sschoe2

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Re: Chemistry: terrible profession that ruined my life
« Reply #104 on: July 19, 2013, 10:49:35 AM »
http://www.acs.org/content/dam/acsorg/careers/salaries/surveys/salaries-2012.pdf

Yea ACS is worthless. Their salary stats are laughably unrealistic. $73,800 median salary for a chemist at the BS level. Try asking for that from an employer and they will laugh for five minutes before shredding your resume. The going rate for a BS chemist is around $35k and as I stated before you are lucky to get any benefits with that as most companies are using contract agencies to avoid that. Most of their surveys only poll their members which most average chemists have no interest in paying to get their drivel on how the "H1b program in enhancing diversity in the field" or how there is a terrible shortage of American science grads, (though some of their journals are decent).


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