Changing Career Pathways for College of Chemistry Graduates:
The Effect of Biotech and Silicon Valley (continued)

Alumni Profile: Steve Bromberg

Steve Bromberg is currently in transition, moving into the high-tech world and leaving a more traditional chemistry career behind.

Bromberg (Ph.D.'98, Chemistry) studied ultrafast IR spectroscopy for his doctoral work and wanted to work with lasers as a career. But once he finished his degree, he decided to switch fields. "Changing the focus of my work was a daunting task, especially considering the intensity needed in graduate work. However, I felt that the time was right and started looking around."

He contemplated quite a few different positions before deciding to take a job at Clorox. According to Bromberg, chemistry job-hunters group Clorox with the chemical companies, but it is actually a customer of the chemical companies, buying the materials needed to make consumer products.

After a few years at Clorox, Bromberg decided that the high-tech field had a lot to offer. He has just joined Nortel Networks, working in their optical network division. "It's a nice setup because I get to make use of what I learned about lasers and optics in graduate school. Except now I'll be working with it in telecommunications situations instead of using it to study new reaction mechanisms," he explained. "It's an exciting opportunity because I'll be evaluating different technologies and determining whether they would be useful to my group."

Bromberg has some suggestions for chemists thinking of making a career change themselves. First is to find out and learn the language that the industry uses. "Many times an industry may need your skills but will use a different term, which can be a barrier. Often a little time and research will help you figure out what their jargon really means," he says. "Also, think generally and broadly about the skills you may have picked up in school and don't limit them to a specific area." For instance, part of the Ph.D. process is learning how to learn new skills quickly. "You should stress this, it's actually quite important and in demand," Bromberg advised. Finally, just remember that the first job you take may be just a stepping-stone. Use the time and experience to learn new skills that can be applied to new situations. These steps as well as a positive attitude and patience will help in making the switch.

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