I have spent the past twenty months reflecting on my time at UNH, the experience and qualifications I gained and where I want to apply my focus from here. I constantly felt as though I was struggling in the B.S. program, particularly in the lab. However, should you succeed in graduating, you will start to notice opportunities revealing themselves to you every direction. I chose to join the Marine Corps, because it had been in the back of my mind since elementary school and I knew if I didn't do it after graduation it would remain an unfulfilled dream. I am fortunate to have this time - until the end of my contract - to plan my next move and my biggest complaint is that there are too many options! If any of you share my plight finding a direction to aim your degree at, I would like to remind you that taking any job will start clocking chemistry-related job experience and it is never too late to make a career shift.
Currently, I serve as an internal auditor at Camp Lejeune. This is clearly unrelated to chemistry, but has given me the opportunity to evaluate what is important to me. This organization advocates self-improvement and the pursuit of perfection in every aspect of one's life. From image to intelligence to strength and endurance, everything has the potential to be improved upon. I have never been one for philosophy (one of my least favorite courses at UNH), but I find this one rewarding, especially because this pursuit is never performed alone. I enjoy working with equally driven colleagues, though we have very different strengths. My strength is my ability to learn. Nothing has been as mentally stimulating as chemistry and although you may feel burnt at both ends by the end of your four (or five) years, there is a unique satisfaction gained from overcoming cognitive obstacles. That is what I miss from chemistry and serves as the basis for my future goals.
I am in the middle of constructing my graduate school application and hope to land a mid-level lab management job after leaving the service. This type of position will certainly possess the intellectual challenge I miss and include the responsibility and teamwork characteristics I currently enjoy in the Marine Corps. As my academic advisor, Dr. Pazicni knows too well how I scoffed at the idea of more schooling at the end of my time at UNH. But, somehow through all of this reflection and evaluation, I found that this is simply the next hurdle on the way to my new-found career goals. It took me a lot of time to define my passion behind chemistry and identify a corresponding career that also considers my professional values. The better you can define these values for yourselves, the easier it will be for you to find the "right" career. Good luck and congratulations on your accomplishments thus far!