Career path advice

Hi,

I am a recent graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from the University of Cincinnati. I am currently in the application progress for the MS Cosmetic Science program there and my full time job is a Quality Control Technician at a cosmetic contract manufacturer in Indianapolis. I have two questions:

1. Does anyone have any suggestions on what I should put in my personal statement when applying to the graduate program? I have written it but I am not sure if it will convince the admissions team of my desire to get in. 

2. I have been interviewing for different jobs that are chemistry positions instead of quality control but they are not in the cosmetic industry. Would it be better for my career goal of being a formulator to stay at my current job since it is in the industry although there isn't a large amount of scientific work or move to a chemist position elsewhere for lab experience but in a different industry. 

I'M TORN, PLEASE HELP!!!

Comments

  • Hi five to you buddy! I am also a graduate of Biochemistry not so long ago (please don't ask the exact year). When I graduated I didn't know I was going to be destined to work as R&D for a cosmetic ingredients company. Some years have passed and I continued to work for the cosmetics industry as chief R&D. I suggest you stay where you are right now since you are already in a cosmetics manufacturing firm. And I'm telling you, everything about cosmetics you will learn when you work in a manufacturing company. From formulation development, packaging development, regulations, marketing, business development, etc.  While studying for your Masters (i envy you!) it is good to learn the practical aspects simultaneously from your current company. Who knows, while studying you might be transferred to a Chemist position if you stay and learn long enough. I heard promotions are faster in other countries compared to where I am located right now. Best of luck to you. <span>:smile:</span>
  • So I should stay in my current position even though it’s a quality control technician job? Not QC chemist?
  • I would agree with @crisbaysauli that staying in the industry and gaining experience (even if you are are QC chemist) is certainly worthwhile. The degree will be of equal if not more importance though. Experience as a QC chemist will give you an understanding of how manufacturing & production operates, and theoretically you should be interacting with R&D as well. This is valuable during any interview if pitched correctly.

    I'm also a formulation chemist in Indianapolis fyi, so after you get that degree send word my way ;) 
  • Thank you for the advice! Do you have an email I can get in contact with you with for the future? 
  • You should check with your current company about your chances for promotion. I've worked for some companies where moving from a technician (hourly) to a chemist (salaried professional) job was difficult to impossible. If that's the case, any job as a chemist in any field will be better than what you have now.

    What you also have to assess are the opportunities you have to learn about the company, the manufacturing process, and the business. For an extreme example, if you're spending all day long taking pH and viscosity readings, every day, with no access to any information about the samples, then you have zero opportunity to learn. If your situation is anything like that, you need to leave ASAP.

    In any case, generally speaking, it will probably be easier to move laterally across fields (organic chemist to cosmetic chemist, etc.) than it will be to move up from a technician to a chemist job, even with the masters degree. Chemists are expected to solve problems and lead projects, while technicians aren't. Not having that experience puts you at a distinct disadvantage.

    There is one exception to think about, though. A good number of salaried chemists are expected to work 1-2 hours of uncompensated overtime a day, simply as a matter of course in their daily activities. Having a position like that could very well make it impossible to complete your Master's degree, especially if the program you're in requires an intensive amount of classwork and/or homework. It may be easier on you to stay a technician until you finish your masters degree.
    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."
  • Your best bet in writing your statement is to be perfectly honest.  Tell them exactly why you desire to be a Cosmetic Chemist and show your genuine commitment to the field.

    Being currently employed in the industry is a distinct advantage for you as it gives you an exposure to and understanding of the business that you would not get if you were working in another industry.  Use that to your advantage.  Do you intend to remain employed while you are studying for your Masters or will you attend school full-time?

    It sounds like you are applying for entry in the 2018 class?  If so, that is less than a year away.  I might hold off on switching jobs until you learn whether or not you are going to grad school and whether or not you intend to remain employed while in grad school.

    Perhaps you could cultivate a mentor relationship with one of the chemists at your current employer and off-hours (if possible) start doing some formulation bench work.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • Yes the masters program is set up for students to work while attending. I am applying for the spring 2018 semester. I’ve already begun establishing a relationship with the R&D chemist so that’s a great idea. Thanks!
  • Well, then your best bet is to hang in there until you find out whether or not you're going to be admitted to grad school.  Having a job in the industry while you're in grad school could turn out to be a great asset in building your experience and future job prospects. 

    Think 2 years down the road when you have 3 years of experience in the industry and a masters degree ... that will make you much more attractive to a prospective industry employer than 2 years experience as a chemist working outside of the field in a different industry.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • Thank you so much! That has been my number one question. I wasn’t sure if employers would value chemistry experience over industry experience. I got chemistry experience in undergrad via internships and research but i definitely intend to get more while at my current job to get the most out of it 
  • Directly applicable industry experience is what employers are looking for ... what matters is that you are a cosmetic chemist with cosmetic industry experience ... not that you are a chemist.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • Thank you for your advice Mark! It really cleared things up for me
  • Hello everyone. Just an update I stayed in my position at the contract manufacturer and I was accepted and now enrolled in the Cosmetic Science masters program at University of Cincinnati. Thank you for all of the advice!
  • Thank you!!! I have a question out of curiosity. When I complete my masters in cosmetic science does anyone have insight into how likely a job will be willing to relocate me for a chemist position? By then I will have 3 years of experience in the industry (not r&d) and the M.S.  
  • Depends on the company, but a larger corporation will and maybe a smaller company might too.
  • Hello frnds,I have also one question.I am currently working in cosmetics formulation R & D,working as a temporary Research Associate in Mumbai (India) from last one year,so my question is I am oil,fats technologist so have I any good opportunities in cosmetic industries R & D.?? 
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