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STEM and Career: My First Day as a Cosmetic Chemist

STEM and Career: My First Day as a Cosmetic Chemist


 You have to do the work to become what you want to be. It may not be easy but, as with everything, it’s a process.

By Jasmine Johnson

“The biggest adventure that you can have is to live the life of your dreams.” ~ Oprah

This quote has been my mantra  and a reminder of what I have to do to get to where I want to be. I’ve finally started my career that I’ve worked so hard to attain and can officially call myself a cosmetic chemist!

It was my first day of work and I felt every emotion you could imagine. When you’ve worked so hard to get a position that you didn’t think would be a reality this soon, you doubt if you are actually ready for the new chapter.

When I arrived, to much of my surprise, I found similarities within my new lab environment that gave me flashbacks of every lab I worked in throughout college. The only difference was that there weren’t graduate students or professors at the benches, but co-workers and a research and development director (surreal!). The similarities of the lab atmosphere reminded me: You got this. With beakers, stability testing equipment and stacked lab books everywhere, it was a friendly reminder that I do belong. My tiny department was very welcoming and willing to help me get acquainted with everything.

Before you know it, I was tasked with doing viscosity testing for different products and learning how to use fancy software that is all too new and complex, but I loved it because everything I’m doing at the job is preparing me to actually understand what is really going down in cosmetic science.

The highlight of it all was making my very first product by using different formulas that I researched. It may have seemed like a small task to my coworkers, but this was my crown and glory! I was so proud of myself that I asked to take it home with me as a symbol of the start of my journey. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the best formula and the smell was entirely too strong, but it was mine and you couldn’t tell me that I didn’t succeed on my first official day at work! (Click on the image to see the texture of the product – gif style!)

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Starting your career out of college can be a mix of emotions since you don’t really know what to expect. When embarking on a career, you have to become an open book. Almost everything is new and this isn’t college where you have time to finesse your way out of an assignment. You have to do the work to become what you want to be. It may not be easy but, as with everything, it’s a process. Here’s what I did to prepare for my first day:


Do Your Research   

Knowing the company inside out is not only impressive, but helps you understand the direction you need to take when working. In my case, as a cosmetic scientist, I have to understand beforehand that the research and development department is the heartbeat of the whole company; without my department, there is no company. Know your role and where you fit in as an employee.


Be Honest

If you don’t know something, say it!  You are new, especially if you are coming straight from school to a career. The truth is that you are not going to know as much as those who’ve been working there longer, and that is fine. I was told on my first day the reason I got the job was because I was honest about the fact that I’m still learning and am far from where I need to be instead of acting like I knew everything; I know I don’t know the half. Remember: you are an open book!


Never, Ever Stop Learning

Just because you got where you need to be, doesn’t mean there isn’t always room for improvement. I was assigned to read a textbook in my field to learn more and become better at what I do. Go outside the box to figure out how you can better yourself and always be open to suggestions.

When you start a new career, it’s something that you should be proud of — you worked hard for it. Cherish your first day and remember that there is no better feeling than to accomplish your goals.


Copyright © 2016 by Jedidah Isler
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