9 Apr 2014
On 5 March 2014, students at the University of York had the opportunity to attend SCI's Career Options Seminar. This included a series of talks from various professional chemists and the chance for a chat over a cup of tea afterwards.
The speakers were Jason Lynam and Kate Lancaster from the University of York, Gayle Kennedy from RB plc, Louise Byass from the Food and Environment Research Agency and Harvey Smith from Nufarm.
It was fascinating to see the wide variety of careers that a graduate with a degree in chemistry can go into. From the world of academic research, which as Jason explained, has many advantages such as the freedom to explore your interests and the opportunity to travel, to using the knowledge and skills obtained in a chemistry degree in a job in intellectual property exploitation.
It was interesting to hear from Louise Byass that doing a degree and then a PhD in chemistry does not restrict you to a lab-based research job and in fact it opens up a very wide range of careers, such as managing intellectual property.
One of the particularly interesting parts of Gayle's talk was the mention of the opportunity to travel, even with a job in industry. Many companies have sites all over the world and this gives employees the opportunity to travel to, or even live in locations that are further afield. It also must be great to work for a big company like RB and to see the products that you have helped to develop in the supermarkets!
Kate's talk was particularly interesting to me as someone is passionate about science outreach and public engagement. I had no idea that universities employed people to transfer knowledge to industry. It was really useful to find out about a job that has sprung up fairly recently, and it just shows that new jobs are being created all of the time to keep up with the ever-changing world of science.
Finally, Harvey showed us a completely different route into a very successful scientific industrial career. Instead of doing a PhD it is also possible to work your way up in a company to a managerial position. This also showed the opportunities that can come from doing an industrial placement year during an undergraduate degree as it might lead to a permanent position after graduation.
It was really enjoyable to receive an insight into so many different careers that a chemist can aim for, and it was certainly a very useful afternoon as an undergraduate chemist who is about to go into the world of job hunting!