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Preparing for a Nanotechnology Career

Landing A Job

A student graduating from a university with a highly regarded nanotechnology program has an instant advantage: many universities have ties to private corporations and government programs. A university's career services department or a recommendation from a professor can be a great benefit in landing an interview for an attractive job. Job seekers can also check out technology job fairs and job listings in publications dealing with their field of interest. The Internet is another valuable tool, since job seekers can check out the Web pages of potential employers—many of them major companies—and look for job opportunities on online career centers.

It is not always obvious that the jobs advertised are related to nanotechnology. Here are a few sample job titles for positions that call for nanotechnology expertise:

  • Applications Engineer
  • Patent Agent
  • Research Scientist
  • R&D Chemist
  • Scientist, Drug Formulation & Encapsulation
  • Microfabrication Expert Technician
  • Biomedical Micro/Nanosystems Scientist

A close reading of the skills and requirements for the position will indicate what sort of nanotechnology background is necessary. It is always a good idea to do some background research on a potential employer, too. This will yield more information on the company's specific focus.

Established corporations such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, DuPont, General Electric, Dow Chemical, Merck, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and General Motors have an advantage in the resources they bring to nanotechnology research and development. They can afford to fund nanotechnology projects that will not yield an immediate profit. Most large corporations adopt a balanced strategy toward utilizing nanotechnology in their industries. In the short term, they use nanotechnology to improve existing products. In the long term, they pursue research and development that will enable them to remain innovative and competitive, and will perhaps transform their industries in the years to come.

Large corporations treat nanotechnology as a sideline, however, concentrating on the areas relevant to their industry. Many smaller businesses, such as Cambrios Technologies and Nanoplex, focus exclusively on cutting-edge nanotechnology. These companies, the pioneers of the nanotechnology industry, often pursue radically new and innovative paths of research and development. Not all of these businesses will succeed. Nanotechnology is a competitive industry, and a number of companies are racing to make breakthroughs in similar product areas, like solar cells, drug delivery systems, computer chips, and batteries. Smaller businesses, especially start-ups, are more likely to suffer from poor management or lack of financing. Still, the future of the nanotechnology industry holds great promise for smaller companies. It is likely that at least one or two will achieve a significant breakthrough in the field, just as Google emerged to become an Internet giant.

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