Originally Posted by HgaleK
No hate at all. I really appreciate knowing this. As much as I love chemistry, there's not a chance that I could do another 4 years of school. 2 years I could hang for biochem, but a PhD isn't for me.
There's a lot in there, I'll hit most of it.
First: science graduate programs are a little different. You shouldn't really think of it as "four more years of school." I had to take six classes in grad school. Not six a semester, six total (I actually took ten, but didn't need to) You'll spend 99% of your time in lab. Classes are viewed as an annoying hoop you have to jump through. So is teaching, for that matter.
On the day to day level, it's basically like having a job. It's a strange and often unpleasant type of job, but you are much more a "worker" than a "student." If you're just sick of "school," you may love graduate work. You get to do a lot of really neat science and play with cool toys, without the concern of the bottom line.
I am not trying to sell you on getting a PhD, just giving a bit of perspective on the process.
A few more questions if you don't mind:
-Do have a general idea of how much competency counts for when it comes to BS chem jobs? I'm a quick learner, consistently kick ass in (and enjoy) chem lab, and am highly motivated when it comes to working. I love working. As long as I'm busy doing something productive that produces tangible results and doesn't involve accounting, I'm quite happy. Overtime, difficult tasks , etc. all serve as motivation. I realize that I would never be leading jobs, but is it realistic to expect tangible benefits if I bust ass? Is there even a way to bust doing lab work?
Honestly I really have no first hand experience with this. I haven't actually worked in an environment where they have any BS workers, oddly enough. Grad school, teaching, and soon a government lab where everybody is a postdoc or higher.
I imagine it's like anything else, people who care, are highly skilled, and work hard will get rewarded. You'd likely get the less mundane work, get raises, etc.
-Do they care about your GPA if you've got the degree when it comes to getting a job?
No idea. They'd likely overlook a lot if you have research experience. I got into grad school and into a very good lab because I had several publications (not first author) coming out of undergrad, despite a mediocre GPA.
And yes, you can absolutely bust ass doing lab work. Many graduate students will work 12+ hour days on a regular basis. Your opportunities to do that would be lower in a BS industry job I'd imagine, but I'm sure it comes up.
-Would work in chemistry make me look good for grad school like lab work does? I've been burned out on school for the last 4 years, but figure that I may take an interest in advancing my chemistry career if I decide that it's what I want to do with my life and have had a bit of a break from the classroom.
It's a mixed bag, and depends on what kind of lab you'd be looking at. Labs that have a preference for pushing the academic track will actually hold it against you. They want people that are 100% dedicated to research. The fact that you have more real world experience is outweighed by the fact that you haven't demonstrated total commitment. Other labs will simply appreciate your additional skills. For admission purposes, it'll help if you find a lab that likes your skills, and can't hurt you otherwise.
I know some people that spent time in industry and are now working on PhD's. Most of them quit. A few made it through. Then again, most people in general quit before finishing.
-Can you get the same job with a BA in chem? Can I get any chem related job with a BA? It's 8 less calculus + calc labs and recitations, which are responsible for almost half of my resentment toward school. It also means that I get to take biochem and lit courses, which don't fit in to my schedule now.
I've never seen stats on BA chem jobs, but I doubt they'd care much. I'm a physical chemist and honestly I don't use calculus much at all. There is probably a slight bias towards BS over BA, but I don't know how significant it would be. If you're on the biochem end of things, I imagine the concern would be lower.
-Does everything that you said about grad school for chem apply for bio? I have a friend who's a double major spanish/BA bio with a 3.7 and guaranteed research work this summer and an opening for next semester, but has no fucking clue what she wants to do with it. She's thinking about med school or grad school but at this point has zero direction and doesn't really want to be a doctor. She thought that she wanted to be a biological anthropologist for a while, but decided that it wasn't for her. Any thoughts there? Would taking a break between graduation and applying for grad school hurt her chances of getting in?
Don't know so much about the attitudes in bio. I would really hesitate to advise grad school for someone that isn't passionate about research. As said in another thread, you should really be trying to decide exactly what facet of your existing research passion you want to pursue, not trying to figure out "wtf do I like about bio (chem/etc) anyway?"