Words of Wisdom for Emerging Chemists

FYE Chemistry Class VTYou know us, we are a perpetually curious bunch. We are always thinking and always wondering. As our CEO prepared to give a guest lecture at Virginia Tech to a group of first year chemistry majors, we started musing about the wisdom we could impart on these emerging chemists. We decided to reach out internally to get tips that Jim could include in his presentation. It was two simple questions we posed to our team but the responses we received were both practical and profound.

What would you say to someone considering a career as a chemist?

“Don’t allow repetition to dull your mind. Approach everything fresh each time.”

“Study math. Work hard at really understanding chemistry. Take technical writing classes.”

“Learn to work independently AND as part of a team.”

“Before you commit, try it out as an intern or as an undergraduate research assistant.”

“It’s all about having the proper mindset. Being able to form a hypothesis and not allowing it to bias your results is extremely important. In other words, you have to love being wrong.”

“There are many college chemistry classes that you may excel in, and others that are a struggle. Don’t ever let the strenuous classes be discouraging, you’d be surprised at what your mind can comprehend.”

“Be prepared to keep learning. No matter how smart you feel coming out of college, there will be problems and situations where you won’t know the answer.”

“Continual research and willingness to learn is crucial to being a chemist.”

“It’s a lot of work, and it’s hard work. Going to school for chemistry is something you should only do if you’re very passionate about it.”

“If you love it, do it!”

“There are so many options for someone with a chemistry degree.  Take time to learn about all the different disciplines within chemistry before deciding on a path.”    

What are realities of your job that would surprise most people?

“The finesse and patience required to do the job right, the first time.”

“The chemicals I work with don’t come in cool colors.”

“I actually spend a lot of time interacting with people, be they colleagues or clients”

“More education sometimes leads to a job with less hands-on science.”

“Even though I’m not a teacher, that is an aspect to my job—teaching clients what the results mean.”

“The biggest reality (and best aspect) of my job is that it is a constant learning experience.”

“The variety of work I encounter is incredible. It keeps things interesting!”

“It can be very dangerous. Small miscalculations and over sights can lead to dangerous and life threatening situations.”

“That a simple question can lead to a very complex problem, and that no result is a result.”    

“The vast variety of things we see on a daily basis and across many different industries.”

Jim Speaks to FYE Chem ClassIt is our hope that Jim’s presentation, coupled with the tips from our team, will help propel these Virginia Tech students forward towards a successful career in chemistry and a love for great science. Who knows, maybe someone in the audience at Jim’s presentation will one day join the PSI team! We kindly ask that you share this post amongst your circles to help spread these ideas, wisdom, and encouragement.

What other words of wisdom would you share with someone pursing an education in chemistry? Comment below to join us in supporting the next generation of scientists.