Today is my first anniversary: one year ago today I took up my current position at RTI International.
I suppose it is a sign of the times that such a landmark goes noted. Less predictable is how much longer it will last but it is a good sign that I’d say I don’t know but have some optimism that it could be a while yet.
If I look back two years, I was in a different position, well-established at a young company, no thought in my head that things might change. I did know that the economy was having an impact, but I was definitely much more naive: I just thought our management team would find the new contracts to keep everyone employed. They had never had to let anyone go for financial reasons; indeed until not long before then, the company had only been growing. But things did not go well, other contracts were cancelled. In August 2008, the impending doom was still six months away but until it actually landed, I had no real clue it was coming.
I am not the only one to have had an invigorating dose of reality given to them. It is extremely tough out there for practising medicinal chemists working at the bench. Non-profit research establishments like RTI and similar organizations in the academic sphere are the main refuge right now (for those determined to keep running reactions at least) and there are nowhere near enough positions to absorb all those let go by the industry in the last two years. Even these positions are fed by government grants for the most part, a resource that is ever more sought after and competition is fierce.
I’m aware of that. So I keep my ears open, looking to network, to help those I can, so that if the time comes, they will be there for me. I hope this current adventure will keep me busy for a good while yet, but if it doesn’t, well, we’ll have to be ready for the next one.