Samina Azad

Women Chemists' View on Career Paths

Discussion created by Samina Azad on Apr 29, 2014

The Women in the Chemical Enterprise Breakfast in Dallas featured round table discussions on
industry, academia, government, and nontraditional career pathways. The tables shared some valuable information. 


The Government table (1) talked about the positives of this career path, for example, job stability, great benefits, and numerous
locations. Internship may be a good way to enter into the Government.


Academia tables (2) discussed the importance of seeking mentors, resources available at campus to assist with grant writing, how to avoid negative politics, and how to ask for startup funds.


Industry tables (3) came up with job search tips and ways to highlight skillsets on resume. Advice from the industry tables:

  • Stay connected to ACS and build a strong network
  • Understand what makes you happy and why you want to work in industry
  • Use multiple resources to look for a job in industry; ACS Careers is a great resource
  • Get your resume reviewed by someone from industry and know your audience
  • Understand the environment you are going to work in
  • Negotiate your salary and be assertive
  • Keep networking even after you get a job
  • Be flexible and build transferrable skills, like problem solving
  • Consider open communication with supervisor about job mobility opportunities
  • Choose between technical and managerial tracks


Non-traditional tables (2) recommended a different title for this category to emphasize that the path is still in chemistry just not at the bench. For example, regulatory chemists – many are hired fresh out of school with BS degree in chemistry and no experience.


In summary:

  • Listen to your instinct and learn from every experience
  • Think outside the box in applying your chemistry
  • Network, network, network
  • Manage your projects and learn the business side of chemistry
  • Figure out what you are passionate about and don’t let others talk you out of it
  • Find an organization to work for whose missions resonate your own
  • Don’t be afraid to pursue crossroads between chemistry and another field
  • It is okay to “lean out” when you need to; Make time for yourself and what is important to you