The Gypsy Scientist

Dave Jensen davej at
Mon Oct 7 13:52:08 EST 1996

We have a new essay to be posted later this week on the Bio-Online "Your
Career In The Sciences" section. This is a guest editorial, by the editor
for Separation Sciences for American Biotechnology Laboratory, Dr. Bob
Stevenson. Bob has just returned from a trip around the world to visit his
clients in the sciences in just about every continent. His perceptions of
the current state of science employment, and science careers, are quite

Here are a few of Bob's comments from the upcoming posting, entitled "The
Gypsy Scientist." Check with our web site at for new essays which come on
line very frequently:

An International Overview of Science Employment

"What can we do about the evolving shift in employment conditions?
Primarily, we can become more active in managing our careers. Those who
are working for large firms are competing in a global labor pool. The
scientific professional must develop a realistic forecast on career
development. This includes a high probability of working for multiple
employers, and even having multiple careers."


"Firms will react to short-term needs by hiring for the short term.
Conceivably, some will practice project management. When the project is
over, the staff is cut. Those involved in the defense industry will not
find this unusual, but the rest of us will. Government employees will be
particularly hard hit, since the pressure to reduce government spending
will probably be the most intense."

Challenges For The Scientist

"The gypsy scientist will have many challenges. Even when employed, he or
she must be thinking and working on finding the next job. The scientist
should keep an eye on current trends. Developing an interest in chiral
separations or synthesis will probably be wiser than focusing on
distillation analysis. It is unlikely that any field will become totally
extinct, but there are more employment opportunities in expanding, new
technology than in technology that is contracting. In the latter, one
simply has to wait for the current occupant to retire or die. The position
may then be eliminated."

Take Control of Your Career

"The worst thing we can do is hide our skills and capabilities from
others. Those who play a role in the selection of employees are primarily
interested in finding a person who can meet the job specification. They
are very concerned about making a mistake, since mistakes in hiring are
legion and varied. Even for a person with good hiring skills, the success
average is only about 75%. The remainder do not work out as expected,
despite the best intentions of both employer and employee."

Editor¹s note: This article is reprinted with permission from ³American
Biotechnology Laboratory Magazine." Dr. Bob Stevenson is Editor Separation
Sciences, International Scientific Communications. - Dave Jensen

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