When I was in the ‘workforce’ from 1974 to 2006, I worked for small
family owned companies. I worked in small divisions of international
companies. I advertised myself as an analytical chemist in the supply
chain of industrial source chemicals for the semiconductor and laser
markets. My first taste of the Industrial Gas business opened my eyes.
I was valued as a young player with good laboratory experience ;
especially in instrumentation. However I was placed in a shadowy
product marketing group as a tech specialist. My goals were to create
and market higher purifies of source chemicals like silane and other
silicon chemicals. Marketing was very foreign to me being a capable
hands on analyst. We typically hired salespeople that could sell snow
to Eskimos. Welcome to Marketing! We fake it until we can make it.
There existed gender stereotypes in all sized companies. Attractive
women were given visible positions in Sales; not so lovely, join our
laboratory. Men were typically in top management positions of the
production facility and marketing. However back in those 1980's times,
customers were happy to talk to technically trained scientists behind the
sales team. Enter myself in 1981. Having received my Masters in 1975, I
showed that I could learn the business. I remember being flown to
Denver for an intensive week of classes on semiconductor fabrication.
The course was called “Sands to Circuits”. I faithfully attended by myself
for five days. I learned so much that I felt that our laboratories were not
able to document the purity of our products to the needed specs. However
I did see practical results when the actual customer made devices.
I learn the semiconductor language and I could talk the talk; and walk the
walk. Back in the 1980's the big OEM’s like Intel, RCA, Texas Instruments, and AMD were creating transistors in epitaxial silicon on specially doped
( N or P) silicon wafers. I remember this now like it was yesterday. So I
wore business attire and visited key customer accounts.
However, the rules of the game never changed: Fake it until we can
make it; company after company. The final test was always in the
customer use of the product. And when the product failed, it was
returned and placed on my shoulders. So speed was paramount in
this marketing atmosphere. I remember my gut rumbling and my
heart rate going up, after “ 5 minute decisions” come from the top
male leadership. Make it faster; make it better; but usually the
customer’s”use test” was the final arbiter.
After 20 years of this marketing “hell”, I landed an academic job
at my alma mater, Rutgers. I went from Industry: “She has a Masters”
to Academia: “She only has a Masters”. Enter the “whipping girl” for
the department of Doctorates in the Department.
Work is hell at the bottom and always will be. “Can I have this soon”; then
“can I have this done sooner?”
Sadly, the other career path was to stay teaching in High School
chemistry. I was offered tenure to stay and become the next department
head in the distant future. The money was not there in a private school.