Alumna and chemist Emily Lind­strom shared her career story with stu­dents and faculty on Tuesday, Kalli Dal­rymple | Collegian

“Reach for the job you don’t think is pos­sible,” alumna and chemist Emily Lind­strom ’06, said in a talk to stu­dents Tuesday. 

The American Chemical Society and the chem­istry department hosted a seminar with Lind­strom titled “My Chem­istry Career: From Sewage Testing to Globe Trotting.” In the talk, Lind­strom detailed her journey from college into the work­force, which began with a job doing analysis in a lab.

“My first job was at a small envi­ron­mental lab where we did envi­ron­mental testing,” Lind­strom said. “The Envi­ron­mental Pro­tection Agency has reg­u­la­tions on the amount of pol­lu­tants you can have in indus­trial waste, and they have to remain below a certain level of pol­lu­tants or they will have increased fines to pay. Nobody wants that. Enter the envi­ron­mental lab.”

While Lind­strom noted this was not her end career goal, it was a place to start building work­place experience. 

“Don’t expect your first job to be ideal,” Lind­strom told stu­dents in atten­dance. “Some­times you may need a bit of expe­rience at a very entry level job before you can snatch some­thing that’s worth­while and some­thing that you really want.” 

She said finding her first job was partly due to attending Hillsdale College. 

“The place where I got my first job said that a lot of times if they hired someone from a large uni­versity they didn’t seem to know their stuff as well,” she said. “So they were very glad to hire someone from a smaller college like Hillsdale.” 

Lind­strom then applied to Ciba Spe­ciality Chem­icals, where she would end up working as a quality control tech­nician for more than four years. The company man­u­fac­tures mate­rials used in the water and paper industry, making batches of products 50,000 pounds at a time. Lindstrom’s job was to monitor those batches and ensure they were made correctly. 

In her interview to get the job, Lind­strom said they asked about who she was as a person, and that being open about her per­sonal life in the interview was critical.

“I said that I liked playing Dance Dance Rev­o­lution on the Xbox, and they actually brought that up to me years later,” Lind­strom said. “They liked that I showed my per­son­ality and that I showed I was a little goofy. So don’t be afraid to show your per­son­ality in the interview.” 

Lind­storm went on to work as a product and appli­ca­tions chemist, where she was head of one of the largest projects in her career to date. 

“One of my proudest accom­plish­ments of my whole career was when I moved a lab across the country from Vir­ginia to Houston,” Lind­strom said. “I was the only one in the business elected to move to Houston, so it was up to me to coor­dinate moving the lab across the country. It was very suc­cessful and I ended up running the lab in Houston by myself. So don’t be afraid to take risks.” 

Lind­strom moved on to be a tech­nical spe­cialist and then a global quality manager. As a quality manager she oversaw six labs worldwide. 

“In the short time I was in this position I was able to visit half of them, so more global travel for me,” Lind­strom said. “If you work hard, and you prove yourself, and you get in with the right company you might sur­prise yourself with how far you can go.”

Junior and bio­chem­istry major Katie Ingham said she learned a lot from the talk.

“I found it very inspiring that she was able to find admirable posi­tions of work without a Ph.D. or medical degree, which I think some­times seems required when you are a chem­istry or bio­chem­istry major,” Ingham said. “Her jobs all seem inter­esting to me, which gave me hope for my future career in science. I also love how flexible she was as she aged by reeval­u­ating what kind of job she wanted and then going after that position. That was very inspiring and admirable to me.” 

Chair­woman of Chem­istry Courtney Meyet said she was excited to have Lind­strom speak. 

“We have worked on getting speakers that have a wide variety of expe­rience,” Meyet said. “A common question stu­dents have is how they will get into the industry after getting a degree. It was really inter­esting to see Emily’s tran­sition from college to the industry.”

Assistant Pro­fessor of Chem­istry Kelli Kazmier echoed these sentiments. 

“We offer this seminar course to try to prepare stu­dents for exploring careers in bio­chem­istry and chem­istry, and to get stu­dents to start thinking about building pro­fes­sional skills they will need to be suc­cessful,” Kazmier said. “Emily offered per­spec­tives that will be critical to stu­dents as they move into the next stage.”