Eden Willcox, a 2016 ACS Biochemistry Graduate has had an interesting journey post graduation. From Fastenal to a position doing Laboratory QC/QA, working as a substitute teacher, to now becoming the Industrial Pretreatment Coordinator for the City of Winona’s wastewater plant, Eden has shown the breadth of what a Chemistry degree can do for you.
What’s your current position?
“I work as the Industrial Pretreatment Coordinator at the City of Winona. I have process wastewater samples analyzed to ensure that companies are legally treating their waste stream before it comes to us. I spend a lot of time going around and building relationships with businesses to ensure that all laws and regulations are being followed”
How did your Chemistry education at Winona State help prepare you for your career?
This job required me to have a background in chemistry, which has been useful, but I really feel like I’ve needed to have very good communication skills, whether that’s explaining to a business why they can’t sewer certain chemicals, or needing to reach out to other wastewater treatment plants and their pre-treatment coordinators for insight. I think WSU, and more specifically the Chemistry Department, was able to prepare me for this because its faculty were very encouraging of students to reach out and drop by during office hours. With this job I also run into certain issues at different businesses, trying to figure out why their wastewater samples are not compliant, and it requires me to investigate their processes on site. I feel the professors at WSU, while very helpful, also pushed us to find information and to try and figure things out on our own.
Did you envision your current job when you chose your major?
Haha, no! I didn’t even know a job like this existed. It makes sense that there is, but from what I’ve learned with this job most people don’t think too much about where stuff goes once they flush a toilet or pour something down the sink.
Finally, what’s your advice to current or prospective students?
“My advice would be to power through and to try and not let the stress get to them while in college. You’re allowed to have some fun. Apply for REUs (Research Experiences for Undergraduates)! I never did and I totally regret it. Also, apply for all sorts of jobs, even if you only have some of the requirements/qualifications. Mine had several additional certifications they wanted me to have, but I only had the chemistry related degree. They just had me do on the job training for all the other requirements.”