A little light reading

Since I've started this gig, I've been amassing information sources about alternative careers in chem, both mentally and bookmarking-ly. I thought I'd do a brain dump here, so my six devoted readers (hi, Dad!) could maybe use some of this stuff, too. First, the books.

image by flickr user Oolong

A word about books in this context: old. Well, maybe. The trouble with putting something in print and then binding it is that the info can quickly become dated (the newest book in my list is from 2007). I'm not saying this is always the case, but sometimes. Anyway, you know that, so why am I blathering on so? Nontraditional Careers for Chemists: New Formulas in Chemistry by Lisa M. Balbes. The book lists a bunch of different fields a PhD chemist can go into, and talks to several people in each field with varying types of jobs. Here's a review of the book. Balbes also does technical writing/editing and career consulting through Balbes Consultants. She does a lot of writing for ACS careers too. Here's her blog, although of late it just seems to be links to her ACS career articles. Alternative Careers in Science, Second Edition: Leaving the Ivory Tower by Cynthia Robbins-Roth. Okay, so I did not actually read this one, since the library doesn't own a copy. According to one of those amazon reviews, this is geared more toward biotech-y type jobs. But for those of you in biochem or with undergrad degrees in biology, this might be useful. (That would be me. I actually have two undergrad degrees--one in biology and one in chemistry that I got concurrently. It's a long kind of stupid story, but the gist is that the university wouldn't let me get two BS's at the same time. It was too hard, they said. Whatever, they'll let you do it now. So I have one BA and one BS. Gosh, how interesting! Back to books.) Guide to Non-Traditional Careers in Science: A Resource Guide for Pursuing a Non-Traditional Path by Karen Y. Kreeger. My library also did not have this one, but here's a pretty dang positive review, but remember that this book was published in 1998. Things may be just a smidge different in the work force now. Career Transitions for Chemists: Making it Happen by Dorothy Rodmann et al. This was published in 1995 by the ACS. And though it's 15 years old, and despite the overly perky sounding subtitle, there is actually some useful information in there. The first part of the book talks about things like what skills you have as a chemist and how they can be used. (Although it lists "honest" under personal characteristics chemists have. I'm a bit confused by that.) It also has tips for writing resumes/CVs, interviewing, and networking. Again, these may not be up to technological speed, but the basic info is there, and it is still relevant. There are a few chapters at the end that deal with non-lab careers, and other careers. It lists "self-employment" under other, which turned out to be starting your own chemistry business or being a consultant. All in all, worth a flip-through. Some other useful links: A C&E News article from last year about organic chem careers away from the bench. A Science webinar on nontraditional careers. Did you know that the ACS offers personal career counseling for members? And lastly, theACS Career Fair! You can sign up for the Boston meeting one starting next Monday, June 28th.

Author: Leigh Krietsch Boerner

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