The transition from one career to another can be extremely difficult, but by having a vision, a plan, and some good fortune a transition to a rewarding second career is possible. After 32 years of service as a Senior Principle Scientist at Kraft/Nabisco, I retired and started a second career as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Chemistry at Hofstra University. Now, I have a very active undergraduate research program and many rewarding experiences as a teacher.
My passion for teaching chemistry started when I was a senior teaching fellow at Adelphi University back in 1968. After receiving my Ph.D. from Adelphi, I completed my military obligation in 1971 and tried to get a college teaching position, but to no avail. However, I did receive a job offer from industry.
I received an offer from Life Savers Company. They hired me as a polymer chemist to work on various polymers used in chewing gum and other confections. I remained in industry for 32 years with the same company (different owners).
However, in 1988 Life Savers was part of a big conglomerate RJR/Nabisco and the company was undergoing a leverage buyout. At that time, the reality of losing my job became a big fear, so I decided to prepare myself for a transition. I began taking certification education courses at night to become a high school chemistry teacher.
As it turned out, I did not lose my job at Nabisco, but actually got involved in the most exciting and most rewarding project of my life. The project was the synthesis, characterization, and commercialization of a novel low calorie fat. I had worked on this project from concept thru development to FDA approval as a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) substance for use in foods. This family of low calorie fats was called Salatrim and eventually was branded as Benefat. The project ended in 1994, the same year that the chairman of Hofstra University asked me to serve as an adjunct instructor for an evening laboratory.
I stayed on as an Adjunct Professor at Hofstra, while I worked full-time at Kraft/Nabisco, with the thought that upon retirement I would transition to my second career as a college teacher. In 2003, I retired and started to put more hours into teaching, and doing research with undergraduate students. My experience taught me that family and character matter in life. It is also important to have a career development plan and an alternate plan if things don’t go the way you originally planned. Never lose hope or your dream. It will happen someday.
Dr. Ronald P. D’Amelia retired in 2003 from Kraft/Nabisco as a Senior Principle Scientist. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at Hofstra University.