Career management for chemists: a guide to success in a chemistry career

Career management for chemists: a guide to success in a chemistry career
John Fetzer
Berlin: Springer 2004 | Pp xi + 266 | ?29.95 (HB) | ISBN 3540208992
Reviewed by Sara Shinton

This book has an incredibly broad scope and looks at both technical and non-technical areas, from keeping research records to dealing with difficult people. It is steeped in chemical terminology and anecdotes based on situations common to chemists, and so brings something fresh to the area.

Fetzer himself stresses in the introduction that everyone works for themselves and that you can’t rely on anyone else to control or shape your career. Having established this essential truth, Fetzer shares his many years of experience in a style that is reassuring and supportive.

Although more experienced chemists may find many of his points veer towards the ’obvious’, younger scientists will find his insights on aspects such as conferences, collaboration and publishing invaluable in helping them understand how to be effective and have impact in the scientific community. For me, the book’s real strength lies in these sections, with it acting as a virtual mentor, sharing experiences and advice.

The scope of the book is such that the individual topics can only be covered briefly, but as an experienced columnist, Fetzer captures the key points, which for most readers is all that is required. For example, scientists who are keen to develop their careers towards a management role will find the sections on dealing with others and working in and leading teams offer a practical summary of many management theories. The comprehensive bibliography points those interested to further information.

The final section on career paths looks at academic, industrial and alternative careers, but only touches on the mechanics of applying for jobs. In this section, the American authorship is betrayed, as r?sum?s and CVs are described for US applications. RSC members would be advised to use the RSC’s Career Management Pack in place of this advice.

This apart, the advice offered is universal and relevant to chemistry careers in the UK and internationally. I feel this book will have most value to chemists at the start of their careers as it distils many years on experience into straightforward tips on being an effective scientist. However, anyone seeking guidance or support for their professional life will find much of value in Fetzer’s encouraging and constructive book.