She still had one more session at the Université de Sherbrooke, but Karine already had a job assured starting in the summer. As a project manager at Intersand, the new graduate is responsible for developing projects for animal health. For the young chemist, the days pass, each one different…
“At the beginning of a project, I spend more time at the computer doing research and reading publications to learn about all the new potential avenues in the field of animal health,” explains Karine Léger, 27 years old. “I then go to the lab, where I test different formulations and conduct trial-and-error type experiments.”
In the lab as a team
In her team, she has one or two technicians around her who have college training and colleagues with master’s degrees in chemistry, including the chief researcher associated with the project. Karine has already been a technologist, having previously obtained a college diploma in analytical chemistry. “I was focusing on quality control in the lab,” she says. “I like that my role now involves a greater diversity of tasks and participating in research.”
One profession, many employers
The role of chemist varies according to the work environment. In SMEs, labs like Karine’s are quite rare. These are usually found directly in the plant, where the chemist’s role is primarily the quality control of incoming and outgoing goods… and anything that can interfere with the production process. The pharmaceutical sector is another major employer for chemists. However, the industry often requires graduate degrees for any role involving management and research.
“In SMEs, I like that there are small teams and that as a result I can touch a bit of everything,” Karine Léger says.
If you have an adventurous mind, you can also choose to work directly in the field, for example in environment. In addition, the oncoming generation will need others to devote themselves to sharing their passion as a college or university professor.
The profile of the perfect chemist
Regardless of the candidate’s ambition, to succeed in chemistry he should like to work in a team and be someone who takes pleasure in digging deeply to understand a situation and identify avenues for solutions. “You have to be curious and have great attention capacity,” adds Karine Léger. “You will not be happy if you are allergic to routine and repetition. When there are hundreds of specimens to be tested, you have to stay meticulous with each manipulation.”
If you are interested in obtaining a chemistry degree, you still need to be curious enough to attempt the experiment!