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Career Starting Advice (Help!)

  • 1.  Career Starting Advice (Help!)

    Posted 22 days ago
    Hi all,

    I finished my undergraduate back in 2016, an associates in 2018 (in Biotechnology) and my LSS Yellow Belt last year. Since graduating I've struggled with figuring out what it is exactly I want to do and I've been unemployed for the past two years. I've been struggling to find entry level employment in the Chemical Process Industries. I've had some success in getting interviews, though almost always for positions I'm not entirely qualified for, I usually fall *just* below the minimum qualifications. Yet I almost never hear back from positions that I am qualified for. At the moment I am hoping to find employment either in Pharmaceutical (where I education is more focused), or petrochemical manufacturing. I was just wondering if anyone had any advice they would be willing to impart to a fledgling chemical engineer having trouble getting his career off the ground.


    James Korin

  • 2.  RE: Career Starting Advice (Help!)

    Posted 21 days ago
    Does your university allow you access to the campus employment center?

    Steve Cutchen
    Investigator, retired
    US Chemical Safety Board
    Houston TX

  • 3.  RE: Career Starting Advice (Help!)

    Posted 20 days ago
    Following guide lines may help:

    1. It happens to few people. Since time gap is increasing, whatever oppurtunity you get, do not neglect it. Join immediately.

    2. Do not be choosy about salary, Location etc. Initially experience is important.

    3. Broaden your qualification : Try to get other process packages experiences like aspen plus.. etc, which chemical industries use. It can be any course, which are used in chemical industries, since biotechnology is a limited field.

    4. Do not get disheartened. Be strong & keep trying.



  • 4.  RE: Career Starting Advice (Help!)

    Posted 19 days ago
    Good morning all,

    I had a similar experience when I graduated.  I didn't graduate at the top of my class, but I had co-op and international experience.  I had a good GPA, but it was the depths of the recession, and I didn't have full-time employment upon graduation.  While still looking every day for that first job, I looked to my school's alumni network job board and took a temporary position as a project engineering assistant; and parlayed a 2-week temp job to a 6-month assignment while I found my elusive entry-level job.  I think that others will agree that your GPA doesn't really matter after getting your first job; it really depends on pertinent experience and showing that you're a critical thinker capable of solving problems and proving an asset to the company.  I hope this helps!

    Patrick Muldowney EIT
    PSM Engineer
    ERCO Worldwide (USA)
    Nekoosa, WI


  • 5.  RE: Career Starting Advice (Help!)

    Posted 19 days ago

    Dear James and Steve:
    Interesting question that I went through in 1977. Few comments based on my experience:
    -Yes, I did interview Exxon refinery at the University Employment center and got employed. It was the best choice I ever made.
    -When I started my practical life, I analyzed myself as what are my strengths and weaknesses are. Where Did I get As' and Bs' and where I  got Cs". This allowed me to realize my strengths. This process allowed me to evaluate my self as to what area will be the best for me. I then focused.
    -Once I joined Exxon in Linden, NJ, in 1977, my boss, former  MIT Chem. Engg department head, tells me to go to the plant and find problems and solve them. I got guidance from him as to how to find problems in the plant. Tackled problems and came up wit the solutions. These solutions were with mathematical approach rather than practical. He commented that Sudhir in practical world, you use your chemical engineering principles if you want to solve plant problems. That means focus on using continuity equation, material balance and Energy balance. In additions, after year or two my curiosity increased as to why my boss tells me to certain things. This led me to join college for MBA while working and this helped me great analyzing as to why I was told to do certain things. This helped me tremendously prepare myself for management position along with Engineering work,

    To day after 42 years of industry experience and holding high level positions are result of following his advice. I have more than 32 patents, most of them generated significant revenues for my employers.
    -After retirement, I have my own company and continue developing new concepts and patent them and use in the industry.

     Thus, analyze yourself and find out your strengths and weaknesses and focus on your strengths and succeed. 

    Best Wishes

    Sudhir Brahmbhatt

    Sudhirkumar Brahmbhatt PhD,MBA
    Technology Services Inc
    Glencoe MO

  • 6.  RE: Career Starting Advice (Help!)

    Posted 21 days ago
    I had a similar experience when I got out of school.  It took me 6 months to find my first job.  I started working for the state of Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality doing water quality modeling.  Not at all what I thought I'd be doing after a chemical engineering degree.  But I showed I could work hard and learn to do whatever the job required.  It took me a few jobs and a few years to show what I was capable of but I've been working in the pharmaceutical industry for 20 years now.
    Good luck.

    Elizabeth Robin PE
    Consulting Engineer
    Eli Lilly & Company
    Indianapolis IN

  • 7.  RE: Career Starting Advice (Help!)

    Posted 20 days ago
    Perhaps you can see what fellow classmates have done? Maybe they can let you know about entry level positions that come up?

    You can work through a staffing company as a temp. It surprised me, but there were companies, esp in biotech, looking for temp engineers and lab help. You would be sacrificing pay for relevant experience. However, once you get a job you are much more hireable.

    For me, I had to give up on biotech. It's a long story. You might need to do like I did and jump into whatever field is hiring when you need to be hired.

    Best of luck!

  • 8.  RE: Career Starting Advice (Help!)

    Posted 20 days ago
    I would suggest getting another certification from either Project Management International, or from the American Society for Quality.

    In both cases, you get a marketable, searchable credential that goes very well with your technical background.  You also have a new network to tap into (besides AIChE, of course) to make the connections you need for that first position.

    Annette Johnston PE,ASQSSBB,PMP

  • 9.  RE: Career Starting Advice (Help!)

    Posted 20 days ago
    Hi James,

    I have a lot of sympathy for you, it's not easy or fun looking for work for a long period of time.

    There are a lot of good suggestions posted already. You mention that you always fall "just below the minimum qualifications" are there any specifics that you fall short on? Is there a pattern to what you fall short on? It's a good idea to ask for feedback on unsuccessful applications to better understand what gaps you could fill in order to succeed next time.

    Also try to find some volunteer roles ( in things like AIChE or similar pharma/biotech/Petro institute) as this could be a good way to make yourself look more proactive and enthusiastic to potential employers and could help you to meet good contacts for leads on suitable openings. Any little edge you can give yourself could make the difference next time.

    Good luck!

    Scott Clarke AMIChemE
    Graduate Chemical Engineer
    Forsyths Ltd
    United Kingdom