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Organic to analytical chemistry

PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 4:04 pm
by JKL
Hello. I got a Master’s degree in organic chemistry, however after I graduated I realised that I want to move towards an analytical chemistry career working with chromatography and mass spectrometry. More specifically I think that LC-MS-MS and biomedical research is an area I would like to move into. I have been told that the change from organic to analytical chemistry shouldn’t be that hard – but I’m really struggling. After I graduated I got a maternity cover (9 months) in analytical laboratory analysing oil samples. For the last year I have been working in the pharmaceutical industry, developing HPLC methods for identification and quantification of API’s in pharmaceutical dosage forms. But how do I move from my current job to a job doing LC-MS-MS?

I have done the following:
1) Applied for analytical chemistry jobs at hospitals, forensic departments etc. However each time I am called in for an interview someone else gets the job due to “more experience with biological samples”

2) Send unsolicited PhD applications and got a research group to agree to apply for funding for a PhD. However funding is hard to get.

I feel like it’s the good old "In order to get experience you need to have experience" deal. How do I get LC-MS-MS experience with biological samples if I have none?

Re: Organic to analytical chemistry

PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:23 pm
by D. Martin
As has been mentioned before, ~100000 times, the best way to find a job is networking. Out of curiosity, where are you located?

Re: Organic to analytical chemistry

PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 9:13 am
by Dave Jensen
In the USA, Masters level chemists are in demand. I have the feeling that you are outside of the States, is that correct?

Have you considered taking a position with a temporary scientific employment company? Firms like Kelly Scientific and others have positions they fill for their clients that are temporary, but they are often extended to be permanent. In other words, they use the "try him/her, you'll like her/him" approach. The employer gets to put you on a 90 day contract doing LC-MS work and you get that experience, which you can either use to move on to another role or you get to go "perm" with that company.


Re: Organic to analytical chemistry

PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:44 am
by Steven Z.
I can't believe I just heard that advice. Do a temp agency job especially in analytical only as a last resort. These jobs only become permanent 27% of the time according to the WE Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. If you do take it because you are desperate you should keep looking and bail at your first opportunity. A lot of large companies pack the place full of temps, hire a manager to supervise them, and operate as a churn and burn revolving door. Such positions are miserable, they underpay significantly often with no benefits, the company will not do anything to help your development, the poor conditions will only serve to disengage you.

Re: Organic to analytical chemistry

PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:03 pm
by Abby
I was hired on permanently after a temp gig as an industry biologist (Masters). In fact our small company has hired on several temps to permanent in R&D at BS, MS and PhD. Can't speak to large companies or chemistry, but it does happen.

Re: Organic to analytical chemistry

PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:43 pm
by Steven Z.
All I can say is my temp job experience was such a nightmare that it made me want to quit science altogether. I have a friend who had a similar experience in a different area of the country and wound up getting a perm offer 800 miles away and taking it just to get away from the temp abuse. I personally would do a radical career change rather than ever take another temp job.

Temp to me means lousy sleazy company that views their workers as a commodity rather than an asset and it contradicts the notion that chemists are in demand other than there are never enough real smart suckers. Companies make an effort to retain workers that are in demand by giving competitive pay and benefits.

Re: Organic to analytical chemistry

PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 9:06 am
by D.X.
Hi Steven Z.,

A temp Job or on this side of the pond, a contract job, can be a healthy and meaningful part of career development where the key objective is to fill an experiencial gap. A secondary or tertiary objective is to leverage that to a full-time Position at the client.

It should be accepted by the employee in a temp Position, that there is no promise of a full-time Position even if stated. It's one of those things you ignore and rather Focus on the experience - that's Standard practice from the employee Point of view.

From an employer Point of view, quite more so the case a temp Job or contract Job is to fill an FTE resource gap on a short-term per projecct Basis without committing a fix FTE cost line item. A temp Position or contract Position is a win-win on both sides, the employer knows that your there to do a Job and employee knows its opportunity for experience, paycheck with an end-date, that's the contract.

Many have negative views of temporary or contract positions when the expectations are mis-aligned usually on the side of employees relating to Transition to a permanent role or the experience itself - the good part is that there is an end, and one can always quit.

Going back to the original poster - do Network and don't Discount academic experiences once you have some masss spec experience, that with your Prior industry experience can take you back to industry, there are many Jobs in Manufacturing and Technical Product you can assess - i'm not sure forensics is a place I would look. Nothing wrong with looking at temp positions if available to fill that skills gap in the short term, acknowleding that such Position is part of a career mix of experiences that Support your trajectory.


Re: Organic to analytical chemistry

PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 10:08 am
by Steven Z.
I just don't see the benefit of the temp job. They want you to already know what you are doing when you start. The company or client will not give you much if any training. They don't want to invest in contact employees because they are disposable and they are operating on the edge of labor laws and worried about a Microsoft style lawsuit. Also, in a lot even most cases it is not a temporary need but a permanent need that the temps are being used to fill.

Also because the client company expects a worker to be able to be able to show up and start working the agency is going to demand experience. Anyone they are going to want to place would be better off not going to them in the first place and having a parasite leeching off them.

In short I feel that advising someone to take a temp job is advising someone to accept being marginalized. I see no benefit in putting yourself into an abusive situation where you will be exploited when you should be working to better your situation. The high amount of companies wanting to hire bench staff as temps is the economy not so subtly letting you know how little you are valued. If you have the intelligence for a chem degree you have better options.

Re: Organic to analytical chemistry

PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:19 pm
by D. Martin
Steven Z. I think it can be beneficial, sometimes you need to sacrifice things to get what you want. I worked as a volunteer for 7 months (I had a second job) and it paid greatly in the long run.

Re: Organic to analytical chemistry

PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:18 pm
by Steven Z.
I find the business practice obscene and exploitative.

If companies have so little value for chemists that they don't even feel the need to hire them directly and give them benefits and development like a real professional then why do you want to work for them? You are being professionally debased, marginalized, and told you are a low value, disposable, commodity and not part of a team. If you need further illustration look up the infamous Kelly Never Never Girl Ad from the 70's.

Also a lot of HM's will tell you having a string of temp jobs on your resume makes them think you are a second rate worker because who else would continually allow themself to be debased like that.

Finally, the fact that scientists are willing to allow themselves to be debased like this perpetuates the abuse. As a result, for both your own benefit and that of the profession as a whole I'd encourage you to decline temp jobs. Let bottom feeders only get the detritus.