Jessica Brozek | Chemists in the Real World
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a minor in environmental science, Jessica Brozek found her first position through a science-degree recruiter. In fact, both of her science positions since graduation have begun as temporary positions, with contracts enabling her to transition to full time positions. Since graduation, she’s earned several professional certifications as well including a Safe Quality Food certification and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point certification.
Brozek is active in her ACS local section, and has found that ACS has contributed not just networking opportunities, but friendships as well. “I just volunteered to be general chair for a Great Lakes Regional Meeting in Wisconsin. It went amazingly well! I love the scientists I meet, and I have made many friends through the Society. I love the traveling too!
Today, Brozek is a Lab Manager at Hydrite Chemical Co., an industrial chemical manufacturer. She also recently accepted a promotion as Laboratory Manager of their newest location in California.
What's a typical day on the job like?
I am a manager responsible for two chemists. I spend 40% of my time in meetings or on conference calls, 25% writing reports, and 20% doing lab maintenance (i.e. running samples, ordering supplies, cleaning, and calibrations). About 15% of my time is spent trouble-shooting employee issues.
Are there any apps/software/instrumentation/tools that you can't live without?
Daily I use Word, Excel, auto-titrator, density meter, and email.
Describe your work environment.
I work in a chemical production plant. Drums, totes, storage bulk tanks, and hoses occupy most of the space. The lab is located off of one of the finish product warehouses. After samples are mixed in production, a sample and paperwork are turned into the lab to see if it meets pre-determined specifications. I employ two bench chemists who handle samples and other requests. I have auto and manual titration stations, a density meter, APHA color determination, and a turbidity meter.
Does your job follow a typical 9-to-5 schedule?
As a manager, I typically work 45 hours per week and overtime is sometimes required. The environment is based on customer demands, so it is sometimes fast-paced, and sometimes relaxed, but there is always site maintenance to be completed. I travel 1-5 days each month for job-related training for advancement in management, leadership skills, or updating certifications.
What is your best productivity trick?
I try to learn as much as I can about the work of the company, even if it’s not related to my job description. We all work together.
What's the best career advice you've received?
Make your name known early. Always follow through and reread everything before sending it out.
Do you have any special talents or traits that make you a great fit for your job?
I work really well with many types of people. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty. If the lab isn't busy, you can find me working or cleaning in the plant. There is always something to do. Always!
What essential habit do you have now that you wish you'd started much earlier?
Understanding not to have an “I know everything” attitude. Respect the people who have worked in the business for 20+ years and learn as much as you can, while you can. Listen to everyone’s side of the story before you form your own judgments.
What is your favorite ACS resource?
I really enjoy the toolkits and keeping up with the current research of chemistry. Working in industry, I need those resources to stay current on new findings.
Respect the people who have worked in the business for 20+ years and learn as much as you can, while you can."