Graduation Day: Now what?

New Contributor III
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They say that you know the future is happening when you start feeling scared.  Getting a degree is usually just the first step in a long journey.   There is a paradox in having that much freedom… it becomes paralyzing.  If every opportunity is open to you it can simultaneously feel like there are none.  It’s the same thinking that tells you that there’s nothing to watch on television even if you have over a thousand channels.  Many newly minted chemists choose to go on to higher education or a postdoc and to defer this freedom until later, but at some point almost everyone will join the workforce. 

A new bachelor in chemistry has spent at least 16 years focused on their education.  If they choose to continue they often go on to spend as much as 23 years of their life studying.  So how long does it typically take after starting the job search to find work? More than two-thirds of graduates who find work do so after only three months job hunting.  Additionally, more than 9 in 10 graduates who find work do so in six months or less. 

Six months may seem like a very long time, but it’s actually to the benefit of the job seeker.  Data from the “ACS Survey of New Graduates in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Related Fields” shows that longer job searches are correlated with higher salaries.  This may seem counter-intuitive but it actually makes some sense.  Job seekers who spend more time exploring their options tend to hold out for higher salaries and better positions.  It may actually hurt your long term earning potential to accept the first offer that comes your way.  If you’re looking to find out just how much salary you can hold out for the ACS Salary Calculator is a fantastic member benefit that can predict your value in today’s complex marketplace. 

Of course not everyone has the luxury of holding out for the dream job.  With bills to pay, student debt, and the high cost of living something is of better than nothing.  The ACS has career resources for those looking for employment.  At our national meetings we have a career fair, resume review, mock interviews, and more. To learn more visit the ACS Career Navigator.