How can we best convey to young people just how significant the field of chemistry is? This is one of the most important questions in the chemical industry’s efforts to attract talent.
I’ve had the opportunity to work all summer in the Communication and Attraction team at Chemical Industry Federation of Finland, sharing insights about this world-changing field with young people through numerous videos on social media. To effectively engage in advocacy work, it’s essential to understand what interests young people and how to communicate about the field of chemistry in a way that conveys the exciting things one can do with a chemistry education and career. What could be more concrete than sharing how I myself became interested in chemistry and ended up in the field?
My interest in chemistry and biology was awakened during my junior high school years. The more I learned, the more fascinating chemistry became. Lessons about tiny atoms, elements, stories about cells, and everyday examples of chemistry ignited my passion. Chemistry felt magical. It was as if I had stepped into Harry Potter’s potions class. I am certainly from the generation that grew up with the books and movies, secretly wishing for a letter to Hogwarts.
The mystery of chemistry led me to study the field. I wondered what I could achieve if I learned a few chemical spells. Young me probably thought, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could solve the world’s problems with chemistry, as if by magic?” Different experiences and observations in chemistry help progress in studies. I’d like to remind everyone that it’s normal not to always be sure if you’ve chosen the right field and direction of study. Feeling lost and a bit adrift in the world of chemistry at times is quite common.
Chemistry is everywhere. It’s impossible to avoid. The effects of chemistry don’t always have to be grand and miraculous, and often people are surprised by how many things are related to chemistry. These can be very useful and simple everyday things. Good examples of such everyday activities include morning routines. When I wake up in the morning, the sun is shining brightly through the curtains. While brewing my morning coffee, I turn on the small, old television in the kitchen. I eat breakfast, which leads to my gut microbes starting their workday. Before rushing off to my busy day, I use cosmetics to freshen up. We often forget the everyday chemistry. Energy, coffee brewing, the chemistry of food, the batteries and chemicals in the TV remote control, and their safety and responsibility… The list could go on endlessly. Gradually, over the years, there has been an increase in innovation and understanding of chemistry. On the other hand, understanding and internalizing things can also raise more questions.
The world of chemistry contains all sorts of strange and magical things, and there will always be more and more of them. Like Harry Potter, we can be part of the adventures brought about by chemistry. The winding path of chemistry will always be a grand and exciting adventure. Ups, downs, occasional small bumps, and enormous boulders that chemistry tries to navigate around. The path is not straight, the future is not always known, and the only thing I know is that chemistry is like a massive jigsaw puzzle with that one missing edge piece. Every time you think you’ve completed the whole picture, it’s time to start a new puzzle.
The author is a summer employee in Communication and Attraction at Chemical Industry Federatrion of Finland. Check out Fanny’s social media content on Chemical Industry Federation of Finland’s Instagram and TikTok!