It’s National Chemistry Week in the USA this week and a blog project titled Chem Coach has been started up by See Arr Oh. It calls for chemists of all kinds to come forth and talk about their day jobs and how they got to where they are. It also coincides with an invitation to a primary school to talk about My Scientific Life to a group of academically gifted students.
I am a chemist and a metallurgist. I have never had a standard work day because I have usually worked on temperamental short term research projects. The variation has been fantastic at keeping the brain cells alive with many cranial stretches but I have to admit that when it comes to job security, it is woeful. I have learned to keep a budget and save for the rainy days that do come. I suppose I should have settled down with one project area or settled in a laboratory but I have not found that one project or laboratory to do that. They have all inevitably run out of funding.
For the moment, my standard days are filled with volunteering in science outreach and researching for science news articles I need to write. You see, I recently resigned from a role as a chemist as the project I was working on came to an end and there was no word of any further projects. I am no good at twiddling my thumbs and thought it was best to move on than work in uncertainty.
Since receiving my Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Murdoch University, I have worked as a chemist, ICP chemist, university tutor and lab demonstrator, research assistant, freelance photographer and writer, metallurgist, and lab manager. I don’t fit the standard model, school → university → career for life which has led to concerned parents and a life for friends to follow vicariously as they await the next unfolding chapter to be splashed across social media.
The thing that has been the most valuable in my patchwork quilt science career is passion. Sorry kids, if you were expecting advice on what you should focus on in your academic and career choices, I don’t give those out. I don’t want to ever tell someone what they should do for the rest of their lives. Chemistry is something that I love and stepping into laboratories for me is like a fashionista being given an all access pass to Paris Fashion Week. Like fashion, chemistry is part of everything in our lives and you either love it or live with it. If you haven’t realised, I love chemistry.
I am where I am because I chose to work in an area that I love and enjoy. I don’t expect anyone else to understand my love for chemistry but the enjoyment gained from doing something fun, no matter what is universal.
- Chem Coach Carnival – Science Writing (cenblog.org)
- Chem Coach Carnival: A Few Questions (pipeline.corante.com)
- Pushing electrons over to the #ChemCoach Carnival (cenblog.org)
- It’s National Chemistry Week: 2012 Theme is Nanotechnology (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- Chem Coach Carnival: Me (stevebetz.wordpress.com)