Simply put, chemistry is the study of electrons. Chemists try to use the behavior of electrons in several different practical applications. Most notably - or notoriously, there is organic chemistry, which is used to build compounds. These compounds may be targeted towards drug development, new materials, synthetic flavors, cosmetics, and more.
Organic chemists routinely build low molecular weight compounds using synthetic techniques which consist of multiple steps. To make a compound, they will usually work backwards from the desired product and propose a synthesis route which will be affordable based on prices of building blocks and practical based on the availability of building blocks. The theoretical route is often troubleshooted several times before it can become a practical method.
At a company like mine, we focus on the discovery side of drug development. We essentially make large numbers of compounds and filter them based on activity against certain targets. 'Hit' compounds with relatively high activity, are then modified in several ways to understand which chemical groups contribute most to the activity.
Since the ultimate goal is to add a drug to the pipeline, organic chemists often spend time marketing themselves via slideshow presentations, posterboards of their research, and scholarly articles. Their writings are presented in forums like chemistry conferences and journals. This exposure draws the attention of potential investors and helps fuel the drug discovery process.