Who are the scientists that industry wants to hire? “Brilliant people who are creative and curious and can communicate,” says William Banholzer, chief technology officer and an executive vice president of Dow Chemical Company.

Lab-BeakersWho are the scientists that industry wants to hire? “Brilliant people who are creative and curious and can communicate,” says William Banholzer, chief technology officer and an executive vice president of Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan.

That’s the short answer. Banholzer’s longer answer, revealed in both a March presentation to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and an April interview with Science Careers, suggests ways that early-career scientists who aspire to industrial careers can prepare themselves to compete for those jobs.

First, candidates should expect the competition to be stiff. Speaking to PCAST as a representative of the commission of prominent chemists who authored the recent, excellent American Chemical Society report on graduate education, Banholzer expressed pride that the group recognized “the elephant in the room: … there are too many Ph.D.s being granted in chemistry for the … jobs out there.” As a consequence, postdoc appointments have become “a capacitor to try to buffer between” the oversupply of scientists and the available opportunities, he said.

Industry values the Ph.D. because it teaches “how to create new knowledge, pose an original research question, analyze the literature, generate an hypothesis, generate an experimental validation plan, and draw an appropriate conclusion,” Banholzer tells Science Careers. But for success in industry, scientists need something more: an ability to “differentiate between interesting research and practical solutions to society’s problems, … between what’s possible and what’s practical.”

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Source: Beryl Lieff Benderly | Science | May 3, 2013