Advice for Internships

Hello,

I am a Chemical Engineering student in my third year of college. I am wanting a internship as a cosmetic formulator but am having trouble getting one.

What can I do to make myself more marketable to these companies? What were some of your experiences when starting out?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I am from a area where cosmetic formulating is not common and do not have anyone to speak with for help.

Thank you in advance!

-FormulatorBee

Comments

  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    I'd suggest you run through our series 30 Days to Become a Better Cosmetic Chemist.  It will give you a lot of useful background information about the cosmetic industry and the job of a cosmetic chemist.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Also, look into the SCS Diploma course.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • Thank you Perry and Bobzchemist. I will definitely look into both of them.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Where are you located?
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • I am from West Texas.
  • StacyEStacyE Member
    Look into the GCI Database or PCPC Suppliers Directory for companies which produce cosmetics in your region. I know there are quite a few in Texas. I would recommend contacting them with a well-targeted resume whether or not they are looking for an intern/formulator. You might also look at the Indie Business Network. There are a lot of small companies which might be looking for this type of thing. Are you willing to move for the internship?
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Are you looking for a paid or unpaid internship? Are you trying for part-time during the school year, full time in the summer, or something else? Will you be able to relocate and pay for your living expenses during your internship, or do you need something local?

    Are you hoping that your internship will lead to a job at that company (most times it doesn't), or is it for experience to put on your resume? 

    Lastly, how far away are you from the larger cities?

    I'm also going to very strongly suggest getting a Master's degree in Cosmetic Chemistry/Science. These days, it is really invaluable for getting your foot in the door.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • Sorry for the late reply! I have been moving into a house the last two days.

    StacyE, thank you for the information. I am open to relocating for a internship during college. I actually plan on moving to another city after graduation to make better professional connections and for career opportunities.

    Bobzchemist, I have been advised only to take a paid internship. My ideal internship would be during the summer months, paid, and full-time. I don't mind internships during the college semester but it would depend on the workload that the company needed form me. The program for Chemical Engineering is already strenuous and I wouldn't want my grades to suffer.

    From what I have researched, most of the companies near me are in the Dallas/Fort Worth or Houston area. I was hoping to get something in the Dallas area because I have accommodations for housing there. However, If it is a out of state kind of thing, I would probably wouldn't be able to afford it depending on the city. Right now, I am about 5-8 hours away from these cities.

    I have heard that the first internship is usually more of a stepping stone and I am really okay with that. I know the road to being any type of formulator will be a long one but I'm willing to put in the time and the work to get there. With that being said, what positions/titles should I be looking for as a entry level internship? And what positions/titles should I stay away from?

    I have been indecisive about getting my Master's degree. I see the benefits of having one but the tuition is very expensive. Are there any colleges you recommend?




  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    The trend lately has been towards unpaid internships, primarily due to the economy. This has some advantages, even though you don't get paid. Most companies I've heard about (the one I work for included) will divide an interns time roughly in half, with half the time set aside for productive work (drudgery) and half the time for research/learning. This is done on the theory that if you're working for free, you should be getting something in return.

    If we're paying you, however, things are different - at least here, anyway. 90-95% of your time will be productive work (drudgery) - the stuff that the chemists here would rather not do, but still needs to be done. You will have to push to get time to learn, and most of the time you spend learning will have to be off-the-clock. I suspect other companies are the same way. Teaching you anything beyond what's needed to do your job will be a very low priority for the chemists.

    Personally, I'd strongly suggest avoiding any internship that will give you the title "technician". And "lab assistant" isn't much better. Those two titles are still associated, in most chemists minds, with unskilled or low-skilled labor. They won't help on a resume at all - and they might even hurt. "Intern" is what you should strive for - even if you are actually doing a technicians job.

    I've got to point out, also, that most chemical engineers make significantly more money working as engineers than most cosmetic chemists do working as chemists. A chemical engineering degree won't get you any more money in a cosmetic chemists job, though. Be really sure that formulating is the way you want to go - there are also chemical engineering jobs available in the cosmetic industry. They mostly involve translating lab-created formulas into something that can be produced in a large factory - different from formulating, but still interesting, at least in my opinion.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • Thank you Perry! This helps tremendously.

    Bobzchemist, thank you for giving me insight of the unpaid internships. I did not know paid interns had different roles than the unpaid interns.

    The translating lab does sound interesting. I will look into internships for that as well. I think formulating would be something I would like better but who knows with all of the jobs that the cosmetic industry has to offer.

    Thank you for all of the information. There is so much I do not know and you have been a great help.
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