By Mitchell Baskin, MS, PE
The chemist that became a museum curator – My client, a young woman was a chemist for about eight years and hated it. She became a chemist because when growing up her father, a chemist, used to mix brown liquids with green liquids and they would turn blue, or other similar type experiments. She thought the colors and experiments were cool, but her jobs as a chemist, were disappointing. All she did was put samples into an analyzer and entered tons of data into Excel spreadsheets. Her real love and passion was as an artist. However, her parents discouraged her from that career because they told her she would never make a living, She agreed to career testing, and as expected, artistic, creative careers came up in addition to jobs like chemical engineer or pharmacist. In trying to find a career where she would not have to totally discard her chemical knowledge, the first career that came to me from the test results was antique restorer. In that career, she would know what kinds of chemicals were used in paints many years ago. When she contacted me a few months later, she told me she got a job at the Museum of Natural History in New York. In that position she could not only restore artifacts, but she could use her artistic talent to design and set up the displays at the musuem.
The fireman that became a hazmat specialist – A young man graduated college with a degree in industrial hygeine. He was looking for a job in his major, but could not find anything. He was living at home at the time and his father, a New York City Fireman encouraged him to join the FDNY. He didn’t mind the job at first, but soon found it not to his liking. He hung in there around four years and decided to make a career change, but couldn’t decide on what. We did the career testing and a lot of hands-on and technician careers came up. I knew that the FDNY had to have a department that handled hazardous materials. He told me he keeps looking on the FDNY website, but has never seen an opening posted. I suggested that on his days off, which usually are weekdays, he go down to FDNY headquarters and go to the Hazmat department, introduce himself, and try to make friends. He networked and made personal contacts the way we rehearsed in our sessions, and they told him they would keep an eye out for any internal positions that he was qualified for. He said in an email that a few months later when there was an opening he was interviewed by the department head before the job was posted. Once the job was posted, he was immediately informed that he had gotten the job. It was his dream because not only was he doing what he went to college for, but he still retained his years of service towards retirement.