If you’re in the chemistry job market, I really hope you’ve heard of Chemjobber. Yin to my yang, he blogs about the job outlook for industry and academic jobs in chemistry, basically all the stuff that this blog skips. He does quite a bit of analysis of the positions that show up in the back of C&E News, as well as charting and discussing long-term trends in the market. So the well-informed job seeker would do well to follow his activity, even if it’s to watch what you’re missing by not going into one of these more well-worn careers.
CJ personally is from the dark side (industry). He’s a synthetic organic chemist at a small company, with a wife and kids at home. So what really made me curious was, he’s not looking for a job himself, and he definitely has a full life of his own—so why the heck does he blog about chemistry jobs?
“I think the real reason is that I don’t quite understand the chemistry job market, where the supply is and where the demand is. I figure that if I do enough of an amateur sleuthing job and reach out to enough people, I might be able to come up with some statistics to show where we have been, where we are and where we might be headed,” he said.
CJ compared the chemistry job market to the NFL draft, which was somewhat lost on me, but apparently he’s a big Colts fan so there you are.
In the draft, “there are 32 teams; they each have a 53 player roster. Usually, there are about five to ten positions in each team that they’re looking to replace. What are the odds that any one graduating senior college football player is going to get a job in the NFL through the draft? Not high, but at least he knows the odds. Furthermore, we know the general statistics about life in the NFL. You can be cut at any time, the average career is about three years right now, and after 30 years old the typical running back can’t do their job anymore.”
Sadly, he said we don’t have a similar idea about the statistics for the chemistry job market. “We’re all playing a game of musical chairs (to switch metaphors) where we have no idea to the number of chairs, the number of players and the length of time the music plays. That’s not good for anyone,” CJ said.
He also just enjoys the chemical blogosphere, and has been reading and commenting since finding Derek Lowe’s site, around 2002 or so. He tried his own fingers at the blogging thing and started two others of his own. His current blog is the only one that had some staying power, though.
“I love contributing and being part of an online community, it makes me happy when I learn things I didn’t know about chemistry (like the Kilomentor blog — it’s great!), and I really like applying statistical and economic thinking to an area of chemistry that could really use some.”
It’s a hobby he said, but apparently one that sucks him in from time to time. “I try to remind myself that I’m a husband and a father and a chemist before I’m a blogger. Some days, it’s easier than others.”
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