Do student's need specific training in Green Chemistry to be competitive in the job market? And if so where can they find such training?
This is a great question for sure. I was able to obtain my position without specific training in green chemistry, but it would definitely give you a leg up to have some. Some resources I can think off right now if you're school doesn't offer Green Chemistry courses are:
I'm sure there are more, so I hope someone else will be able to contribute further.
Thanks for the question!
To add to Jon's excellent list of training resources above, the GC3's safer chemistry training, while primarily aimed at a business audience, is also an excellent place for students to learn about the various aspects of green chemistry that are relevant in industry. There are a series of recorded webinars as well as links to other related resources. Personally, in addition to the content, I've found it to be particularly useful to hear the language used to discuss these topics, which is very different from what you'd hear in an academic setting.
Hope that helps!
In regard to resources for green chemistry training, I would like to add the following ones for continuous education:
Those summarized here:
as also the UW-Online certificate program in green chemistry and chemical stewardship:
An Open access paper summarizing « Green Chemistry for Postgraduates »
and a website for the European Doctoral Program on Sustainable Industrial Chemistry:
How did you find your first job moving from academia to industry? Were there challenges you had to overcome or something you wish somebody had told you then to help make the move?
Do you feel that sustainability is strongly embedded into the whole culture of your organisation? Are there challenges you face to promote sustainability and do you think it is becoming more 'mainstream'?
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This is an excellent question and I think one that gets at the heart of what it is to find a job in the 21st century. I don't exaggerate at all when I say that networking is the most important part of finding any job, be it your first or your twenty-first. There are estimates based on large surveys and polling that show more than 70% of all jobs are obtained through some form of networking, not through traditional "cold applying" to jobs you find posted. In fact, there have been reports by experts (although I have not found data to back them up) stating that 70-80% of all open jobs in America are never even posted because they are filled from within or from contacts already known to the hiring company. I myself got my job through networking after applying unsuccessfully for more than 100 positions I found posted online. So, the one thing I wish someone would have told me... network well, network often, and network with anyone who's willing to talk to you. It's also important to note that many conferences where companies, NGOs, and government agencies are present will let students or those seeking employment attend for very discounted rates or even for free if you are willing to volunteer. Attending those events is a great way to meet the people who can fast track your job search. I could go on with this all day, but let's talk about some other keys to finding a job.
Make yourself stand out by broadening your knowledge base. It is true that keying in on one type of chemistry or one niche can often lead to jobs in bench chemistry, but getting jobs outside what you might consider the typical track for a chemist can often be more about the breadth of knowledge you have. What I mean here, if we are talking about green chemistry jobs, is learning toxicology, green chemistry, business, economics, global culture, and the list goes on. Obviously we cannot all be experts in all these fields, but it is worth gaining enough knowledge to be able to speak the language.
One other point I like to share is that you shouldn't limit your search too much based on the type of company or organization. When I was looking for a job and applying unsuccessfully over and over again, I was taking the strictly treehugger approach. I was applying only at NGOs, certification bodies, government agencies, and companies who's business models were almost completely focused on sustainability. What I quickly learned is that you are narrowing your search extremely by doing that, and you are also missing some REALLY great opportunities. I never really took the long view to consider that working for a large global corporation would provide the opportunity to have a much greater impact by making much smaller overall improvements. But I digress.
Anyway, I hope this advice helps, and if it doesn't feel free to ask another question.
And oh yeah, I'm going to try to address your second question in a separate reply... so stay tuned.
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Hello again Jennie,
To answer your second question, I might have to get a little philosophical. When thinking about whether sustainability is truly embedded in an organization, one must first think about what that really means.
My initial question would be whether or not that means that the organization makes the right decision for people and planet every time? I don't think any company really does that, but some definitely do it more often than others. I'm proud to work for a company that has gone to great lengths to lead our industry in sustainability and really focus on it as a differentiator and a core value. Do I wish we could do more? Of course. Is the current global economy set up to do more? In many ways, no. Because companies are all so intricately linked through supply chains, customer bases, market trends, etc., it would be very difficult for a large company to do everything right, every time.
All we can do as technical people who are interested in sustainability is work as hard as we can to improve the systems that we work in, use science to guide our choices, and work to communicate in ways that makes sustainability exciting and innovative, rather than expensive and scary. It's important that more of us learn to speak the language of business and find out what makes people take action, because you can quickly learn that talking about saving polar bears, seals, and honey bees is not what makes everyone take up the cause.
Green Today; Greener Tomorrow
As an Industrial Chemist for over 30 years, things are getting much better but we have a long way to go. It is good to get the proper education in college if you can but the real world looks for greener products at minimal or no costs. Many times I see company's offer greener cleaners for a non-green process. The best example is laundry detergents. Most laundry operations (home and industrial) waste large amounts of water and usually remove less dirt than cleaner used. The process is not green. A dry green cleaning process would be so much better but imagine how many products (and washers) would have to be abandoned. We are drowning in waste water streams. Water treatment plants are having an increasingly harder time keeping up. I tried starting my own company in this area but timing was poor and no support monies were available for entrepreneurs at the time.
Sometimes we need to see the bigger picture. Many companies are becoming more sustainable and produce greener products but the overall process used by consumers is not green.
One very good question in the webinar was ‘how to get information about market-trends for safer products”.
Below you can find a non-exhaustive selection of some links to sources (blogs, sites, reports, journals) which I find interesting and inspiring:
The Greenbiz : https://www.greenbiz.com/
Some reports :
On the Cradle-to-Cradle website (http://www.c2ccertified.org/) you can see which types of products have been certified recently, and there is also a short on-line course for students: http://www.c2c-centre.com/course/design-circular-economy-online-course
For those who are interested in getting and idea about future trends in Green Medicinal Chemistry, a recent book (perhaps available in the university library?) summarizes very good current trends in Industry:
“Green and Sustainable Medicinal Chemistry : Methods, Tools and Strategies for the 21st Century Pharmaceutical Industrie: http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/ebook/978-1-78262-467-7#!divbookcontent
Thanks for the good questions!
On April 12th at 1:30 pm EDT (10:30 am PDT/ 7:30 pm CEST), the GC3, Beyond Benign, ACS-GCI, and NESSE have all teamed up to bring together 3 great speakers working in different sectors of industry to discuss how they got to where they are, how they use green chemistry, and what they would recommend to early-career scientists looking to pursue careers in the field.
Our speakers are:
- Irene Erdelmeier, Co-Founder, Tetrahedron
- Teresa McGrath, Environmental Regulatory Toxicologist, Valspar
- Jon Smieja, Environmental Chemist, Global Sustainability, Steelcase
This webinar is designed to help those looking for a career in green chemistry, so we want to hear from you! What questions do you have for our speakers? Post them below before April 8th and our panelists will answer them during the webinar. We will also be having a continued discussion on the same thread after the session, so check back here after the webinar to see what others have to say.
Register for the webinar here.
This is the first webinar in a series of two. Students can get credit for these activities that could qualify towards becoming (or staying) an ACS green chemistry student chapter.