Howard, seen here with a snow chemist she helped
construct at Bates College, now does research for
PHOTO COURTESY OF JESSICA HOWARD
Through his connections at Hope
College, Boman landed a job at
Albany Molecular Research, Inc.
PHOTO: JENNY HAMPTON/HOPE COLLEGE
world applied to the
program this year,
Heimlich says, and
every year there have
been more applications than the previous year.
The foundation has
committed $34 million
over eight years to the
it’s fully funded, so
your financial status
isn’t a barrier to your
participation,” Heimlich comments.
“We knew this type
of experience — a
compelling, hands-on opportunity over
the summer at a top
university” — could
get students excited
about science, Heimlich explains. But he
isn’t concerned about whether they ultimately choose a career
path in academia or industry. As of C&EN’s press time, 140 of the
1050 Amgen Scholars who have completed a bachelor’s degree
immediately obtained a science-based industry job after graduation. Most of the scholars — 761 in all — have continued on to
science-related advanced degree programs, 19 have taken up science industry jobs after obtaining an advanced degree, and 149
have pursued a nonscience pathway.
Although companies like to see research on the résumés of
job applicants, many undergrads don’t seek out this experience.
According to the 2011 ACS survey of new graduates, only 17.7% of
respondents who obtained a job with a B.A. or B.S. had some kind
of summer research experience, 20.5% completed research during the academic year, and 31.5% participated in an internship or
co-op experience. These survey categories are not mutually exclusive, notes Gareth S. Edwards of ACS’s Department of Research &
The survey also indicates that the most effective way for
new graduates to find a job is through an electronic posting, or
through a faculty advisor or another informal channel.
In fact, recent graduates recommend that students seeking a
job make use of their connections, for instance by asking those
they know if they have heard of any job openings.
“If you know somebody who knows somebody, that makes
a difference,” Boman says. He heard about the opening at Ash
Stevens through another Hope College graduate. Boman recalls
from his job interview with Ash Stevens, “I made it clear I wanted
to learn how chemistry works in industry. I wasn’t just doing it
for the money or because I was bored. I actually wanted to learn.
I think that helps.”
“Don’t be afraid
to seek help from
advises. “Even in terms
of, ‘What do I wear?
They say it’s business
casual; what is business
Friends and col-
leagues can also pass
on insider tips about
the application pro-
cess. For instance, it’s
never too early to start
the job hunt. Howard
began her search in
February of her senior
year; Boman also began his search during the spring
semester. If he had it to do over again, he admits, “I
would have started earlier, and I would have taken my
time a little bit more. I felt like I needed to get a job right
Another tip: Howard found that most companies
that interviewed her didn’t ask chemistry questions
until she was invited back for the second round. “A lot of times
the first question was, ‘How did you hear of us?’ ” In other words,
companies want to know how applicants have gone about the job
When interviewing, Boman and Howard recall that it wasn’t
just their research experiences that made them stand out. Leadership, organization, and communication skills were traits they
both highlighted throughout the process.
In evaluating job applicants, “we’re looking for future leaders,” explains Andrew S. Zalusky, Dow Chemical’s R&D strategic
recruitment leader. Valuable candidates are smart, talented, and
technical, and they contribute to society, he says. Internships and
traditional experience are all fine and good, he continues, but it’s
those other skills that set a top candidate apart from the rest.
Additionally, the world as a whole is collaborating now more
than ever, Zalusky stresses, so international exposure and experi-
ence are desirable qualities in a candidate. “It’s a multicultural
world,” he notes. “Meaningful time overseas can also be an
insight to a candidate.”
When it comes time to spruce up the résumé and get ready
for the job search, don’t be phony about it. Zalusky urges, “If
you’re going to do something, really do something. And make
Emily Bones is a production editor at C&EN and occasionally writes for the magazine. Before becoming an editor she was a high school chemistry teacher. She has a B.S. in chemistry and an M.S. in secondary science education, both from the University of Rochester.
inChemistry • www.acs.org/undergrad