Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by Gibonius, Sep 22, 2011.
You should probably apply to both, and maybe more too.
General update: had a phone interview with a large multinational instrument company today. Was for a spectroscopy product specialist position (which is as general as it sounds), sounds like a good job given what I've done. Fairly excited about it and reasonably optimistic about my chances of a followup interview.
They asked me some extremely general questions, things that would be subheadings in undergrad textbooks. I was not expecting to be asked "What is spectroscopy" when interviewing for that type of position. Partially an idiot test I assume, but also has to be one of those "see how you handle general questions" things. I just hope I didn't go too into lecture/committee defense mode. I knew the interviewer was a general HR person, so didn't get too technical. I had lots of opportunities to sell myself on other questions, but there was a series of really general stuff like that.
Easier to find industry jobs with MS rather than PhD. Lots of PhDs are doing MS work and lots of them find themselves overqualified and rejected for most lab or desk jobs. However Science advanced degree is one of the last hidden secrets of American edu. It is absolutely free, wait no , you are actually getting paid while getting your PhD or MS if you are in Science field. Compare that to the debt you saddled with after doing one of the MBS or Law degrees...
The question probably wasn't designed to test your technical knowledge, but how capably you explain it to a non-specialist. Good Luck!
That's what I though. I had spun myself in the cover letter as having experience communicating with non-specialists, so it would be ironic if I got dinged on that.
gotta study up on my obscure orgo to compete with the master's level candidates at the interview at a columbus, oh company on monday
My experience finding a permanent position has been that companies are looking to make as "safe" a decision as possible. Lots of Ph. D. education and post doctoral experience (which might still be considered academic experience only), serve to make you highly qualified but for a reduced number of positions. In my own case, a few years ago I had several interviews with P&G likely relating to my background building research grade mass spectrometers. No offer because they could get some one who earned their Ph. D. running the exact mass spectrometry system they were hiring for. Didn't matter I was building similar instrumentation, there was some risk associated with hiring me so the job probably went to some doofus without a sense of personal style and an account on styleforum. Their loss.
To follow up on my post: I got my BS and MS in the same field of Environmental & Occupational Science. I have a little over a year of real world experience. I just landed a job that wanted 3-5 years of experience. I still have 2 interviews lined up that preferred 3-6 years of experience. I'm expecting to get a pay increase of at least 20% over my current employer. Admittedly, I remember little to nothing in regards to the stuff I learned in my various physics, chemistry, and biology courses.
I don't think I would ever make it as a doctor, which was what my parents wanted me to follow.
Dragging up an old thread...sorry.
I'm currently finishing up my 3rd year as an academic postdoc in life science. Just the other day, out of the blue, someone I know on a professional basis from an instrumentation company offered me a technical sales job, which would effectively double my pay (kinda like a real job). Here's the thing: I have no sales experience; in fact, I have no relevant professional experience outside of academia. This would be a completely foreign world to me and I'm a little anxious about saying yes to the offer, although they assure me that I am well qualified.
At the same time, my wife is pregnant with our first child, and the extra income would help. The downside here is that this job involves a lot of travel, so time away from my new family would suck. Also, a sales gig is a decisive step away from research, and it would be really hard to go back if things didn't work out. Who knows...maybe this gig would be awesome. Any thoughts?
Which type of engineering should I convince my nephew to pursue? I promised my sister I would help put in money is his college fund.
Chemical seems to be in demand, though i suspect it is also most boring (don't know why, just hunch). Civil seems too bleh. Electrical seems to be hit or miss with people, either people love it or hate it and run crazy fast from it.
Aerospace always seems to attract young minds, and maybe fits more into traditional or stereotypical view of what engineering is (building amazing things that seem to defy conventional wisdom). Biomedical is being touted as "wave of the future" but not sure really what it involves. Computer is too Indian. Mechanical seems is also one of those more traditional, but not sure about application.
I figure the sooner someone knows, the better to prepare them.
Consider Industrial and Operations Engineering. It's the most closely related to business operations. Makes for an easy pivot from "quant grunt" to "management".
Well, from my vantage point (I'm a physicist, in academia), I see increasing demand in several key fields.
(i) Materials science: this is where nanotechnology lives (nanotubes being the obvious very-promising technology here). Lots of exciting stuff here like graphenes, aerogels, superconductive materials and so on. Access includes chemical engineering, condensed matter physics, organic and analytic chemistry.
(ii) Robotics: Very high cool factor, and a technology driven by implacable demographic trends (aging population, workforce replacement, increasing access to hostile environments) and improvements in computing and motor miniaturization. Access includes electrical and mechanical engineering, computer science, mathematical physics, mathematics, and even design fields like industrial design (for those arty nerds!)
(iii) Healthcare: Medicine is a science! Beyond the MD, an aging (and fattening) population demands psychologists (kind of a science... maybe), engineers (interdisciplinary biomechanical engineers are drawn from electrical and mechanical engineering and biophysics), pharmacy (including biochemistry); engineers will also figure prominently in advances in robotic surgery (again, electrical and mechanical).
(iv) Law: like science, but like money too? A PhD in a science plus a law degree creates a patent attorney. I'd recommend biochemistry for the PhD to get on the big pharma gravy train myself, but I can see materials and robotics being big areas in the future. A variation on this would be getting an MBA and getting involved in technology management OR specialized finance such as venture capital focusing on tech/science.
(v) Policy: my first job was as a CIA analyst. While I didn't enjoy government service, a LOT of people live for it, and it can be a very nice, secure career (and a very lucrative background for post-career consulting). A PhD paired with a technology or pubic policy Masters (JFK at Harvard is perfect for this!) can secure a very nice career in the public sector at EPA or wherever (my brother-in-law, a freshly-minted UC Irvine PhD with a Dartmouth post-doc, is now at EPA and doing nicely).
As for academia - I LOVE it, but it's not for everyone. I will say this - it's a bit of a priesthood, and once you leave academia for industry, it's hard to be accepted back again, so bear in mind that can be a one-way trip. Academic science *can* be quite lucrative once you factor *consulting* with industry into the picture (we have at least one Ferrari-driving aeronautical engineer on our faculty, and chemical engineering has no shortage of Porsches in the faculty lot, hehe); a full professor with tenure has absolute job security, two months or more of holiday per year, a six-figure salary, plus income from consulting, books, etc. which can vary from "zero" to "lots"... *that* is a matter of entrepreneurial spirit
Does the position lean more heavily towards the sales side (sales quota based commissions) or the technical side like a field application scientist (making technical presentations, assay development with clients, troubleshooting, etc)?
If you do take a technical sales job, you're right, you are unlikely to come back into a research based position (even moreso working for an instrumentation company). The exception to this is if you'll have specialized expertise in a platform instrumentation. I have a couple of friends who were in a FAS position, then transitioned to a core facilities manager (for a customer), then started to add research back into the fold.
Regarding the travel, how big will the coverage territory be and/or is overnight travel required? In densely concentrated industry areas like San Diego or the Bay Area, some "100% travel" positions are pretty much always within the city (no overnights) so the time spent working from home (with your family) is actually more than you would have in comparison to a lab research position. Another plus is because of the flexibility of scheduling your travel, you can arrange any mid-day personal appointments around your travel schedule with clients.
If your coverage territory is say western united states, or pacific rim countries, then yeah, the travel/time spent away from home will totally suck.
Thanks for taking the time to reply; sorry it took me so long to get back.
It's both. The company has a very small US presence (currently, US-based personnel is in the single digits; they are more established in Asia. They are looking to hire someone with specific expertise (the kind I have) to increase penetration in a very narrowly defined, niche research market. The position would involve sales, marketing, troubleshooting, assay development, new product development, etc. That said, the sales goals are pretty well-defined, as I understand it, so this would be a large part of the job.
As the company is so small, I don't think there is much room for upward mobility within the company, however it could potentially be viewed as a stepping stone toward a product development position at a larger company, which could conceivably lead toward a position in a technology transfer office at a R1 univ. I don't know all of the potential paths, but I suppose a good mix of ingenuity, strategy and acumen could open doors.
Territory would be the Eastern US research corridor, mostly from North Carolina to Boston. I am told that a few months out of the year I could realistically expect 8-10 nights away from home per month. That honestly sounds like a lot to me, especially with a new kid coming soon. Any road warriors with families reading this who would care to chime in?
The overnight travel and the decisive step away from research are the factors that I'm most apprehensive about. On the other hand, getting funding for academic research is difficult now, and only getting harder. From this perspective, the step away from research starts to look attractive. I guess it's the fear of the unknown.
Mechanical is generally the most in demand because it covers pretty much everything (aerospace engineers can also sometimes substitute for mechanical engineers depending on the type of work but their fields are more limited. Biotech generally requires more advanced degrees since there's just not enough time in most undergraduate programs to teach all the necessary knowledge.
I spoke to an electrical engineer who pretty much confirmed my suspicions regarding the field: there's little need to specialists to design specialized circuits anymore because computers constitute such a huge part of electrical engineering and very few consumer product designs use proprietary parts anymore. It's become so plug-and-play that very few electrical engineers are needed anymore and there were so many from the past few decades during the transition to computers that now have experience that a new graduate is at a severe disadvantage.
Computer science majors, from what I see and hear, are always in demand. The people that sit there coding all day (i.e. what you said seemed 'too Indian') are not always computer science majors. I actually enjoy computer science a lot but when I made a choice of what to study I figured I didn't want to be forced to work in an office nor did I want to work with many of the computer nerds. This isn't much like the other engineering options so there's probably almost no crossover possible from computer science to another field so anyone entering computer science has to enjoy it enough that he can foresee himself working in the field and specifically working with/on computers.
I have no idea about chemical engineers.
All in all, mechanical engineering is general enough and in demand enough that people can find their first job and go from there without being constrained nor suffering from a lack of work.
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