Masters of Chemistry and Masters of All


From today, we will feature a series of short articles by distinguished guests on how chemistry related fields offer newer avenues for fresh students and young professionals. In this introductory piece, Prof. Shriniwas Kelkar, affectionately called SLK amongst his peers, throws light on the changing industry scenario.

The end of academic studies is a very interesting milestone in everybody’s life. As one steps on it, several questions prop up and one has to look at these questions clearly. The clearer your vision, the better your chance to find correct answers for them. Many students would seek the advice of their teachers at that stage. However, most of the times, the teacher would not be in a position to guide the student properly due to absence of knowledge about the economic, social needs and obligations of the student vis-à-vis his academic career. So the problem becomes like ‘To be or not to be’ faced by Hamlet or like the Hercules’s knot.

A few years ago, the choice before the student was very limited. Either you would look for a research field or join the teaching profession. You would either continue the research to pursue a higher degree or join in the industry. It was more likely that most of the brighter students would register for a Ph.D. and the not-so-brilliant ones would join the industry.

With changing times, the vista has widened and horizons have been extended. Newer fields have emerged and there is tremendous scope for newcomers in these. It is unfortunate that not only the students but even the guiding teachers are unaware of these opportunities.

A few years ago many would choose the business administration and seek better paying jobs. It should be noted that demand for such additional qualifications is cyclic and follows the ‘one that goes up, has to come down’ rule. So it is necessary to find the current coins which are worth more in the contemporary world.

I feel that since the days of interdisciplinary studies have arrived, it has become necessary to select a field in which the skills acquired through academic studies are augmented. A combination of biochemical research and organic background is on the rise. But certainly this is not the only field. All subjects are becoming all pervasive. If one has to quote a few, patents and regulatory affairs are now open to the fresh post graduates and the competition is not keen there as the chemists with law degrees are very rare. A combination of geosciences or space sciences wtih chemical sciences has been ignored so far by many and today there is a great demand for personnel taking interest in these fields.

The list is limitless. Even a cursory look at the institutes established by the government for a specific field would open many avenues for the newcomers. These vary from bee research to oceanography or leather and rubber to polymers and specialized agriculture products to packaging. How one chooses the appropriate course of action is entirely individual based.

The days of getting entangled in old cobwebs are long gone. There is access to a lot of information on the internet. What it requires of the student stepping on the first career milestone is a clear vision. Keeping in mind the requirements of the family, the financial conditions, further academic goals and an appropriate interest in a particular area, it is not necessary to follow the old, tried, dirt track. New pavements have already been laid, one has to step on them and trot successfully.


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