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Off To A Good Start

With the right preparation, chemistry students can improve their chances of finding a job

by Sophie L. Rovner
September 10, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 37

Credit: Peg Skorpinski
Karla Ramos, a 2010 Amgen Scholar, worked in Michael Marletta’s lab at UC Berkeley.
Karla Ramos, a 2010 Amgen Scholar.
Credit: Peg Skorpinski
Karla Ramos, a 2010 Amgen Scholar, worked in Michael Marletta’s lab at UC Berkeley.

Let’s face it: Today’s job market is brutal. It’s bad enough to discourage some students from majoring in chemistry in the first place. Even if they persevere in the major, they might opt for a career in a different field once they graduate.

But those who stick with chemistry despite the challenges will find that academe and industry are broadening the range of tools that students can use to prepare for the working world. C&EN explores some of these tools in this iteration of its annual Back to School feature package.

In the first article in the package, Senior Editor Susan J. Ainsworth examines some of the rich opportunities available for graduate students who undertake a postdoctoral fellowship in industry. These positions can offer a respectable salary and benefits and in some cases lead to permanent jobs at the host company, she reports.

Undergraduates, too, can improve their odds of getting a permanent job by picking up some research experience while working toward their bachelor’s degree. Assistant Editor Emily Bones explores some of the options, including internships, that are available for these students at companies as well as at universities.

Meanwhile, professors are doing their part by modifying their teaching methods in hopes of keeping students engaged with the field of chemistry. In the final story in the package, Senior Editor Linda Wang describes a variety of techniques that educators are experimenting with to enliven the classroom experience. Examples include brief videos that star students, postdocs, and faculty describing how they use basic chemical principles in their research and then explaining the practical applications.

We hope that these stories will help prepare you—or your students—to enter the fray.



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