Nathan Werst
Undergrad: Willamette University, Salem, OR - Chemistry
Track: Polymer Science
Internship: Bend Research
Currently at Willamette Valley Co.



During my senior year at Willamette University, like most of my peers, the realities of life after college began to loom on the horizon. Would I pursue a graduate degree and a career in academia? What about heading out into the workplace with nothing but a liberal arts degree? While these seemingly insurmountable questions swirled in my head, taking up precious time during finals and thesis presentations, the chemistry club went on a trip down to the University of Oregon to meet with Lynde Ritzow and some students in the Master’s Internship Program.

After a short drive, tour of state-of-the-art facilities, and Track Town pizza with some current students and graduates of the internship program, I was sold on the idea of a graduate degree in a year, with a paid internship at a company in a relevant industry. Soon after my graduation from Willamette University, I found myself in a summer whirlwind of classes in the polymer synthesis and characterization track in Eugene Oregon. The program even trained me how to interview well and have a stellar resume.

The program’s connections with industry quickly resulted in a paid internship for nine months and an offer of full time employment in pharmaceuticals. I recently moved back to Eugene to develop new products for Willamette Valley Company. The job offer was a result of a network formed during the summer portion of the program. I think the greatest strength of the UO’s graduate program is their partnership with industry. As a student, my main goal was to get a job (preferably a job that paid well). The Internship program provided the relevant technical training and interviewing skills that could land me a job, as well as a professional network that opened the door to all sorts of opportunities. Did I mention a Master of Science degree in Chemistry? That too. I would encourage any undergraduate students in chemistry and physics to check out what the Master's Industrial Internshp Program at the University of Oregon has to offer.