Teledyne Leeman Labs Blog

First Day as a Quality Control Chemist

Posted by Aaron Keller on May 10, 2022 10:01:45 AM

First Day as Quality Control_Blog Social Media ImageHey All, I am one of the newest members of the Teledyne Leeman Labs team and getting my start as a Quality Control Chemist for the Mercury Analyzers. I really came across the position shortly after college, in part from my research as a senior, identifying heavy metals in wastewater, specifically Mercury and Selenium. My professor reached out thinking the position would be perfect for me since I had expressed a large interest in working on the instrumental side of chemistry, and it being similar to my research. I was overwhelmed at first having little knowledge of the company before hand and the analyzers being different in the technology compared to what I had previously run. The methods were very similar, for most of the analyzers in practice but getting to know and work with 4 new analyzers was still a lot to take in. Ultimately, I was excited for the challenge, even with the overwhelming amount to learn as I was becoming bored with the monotony of my current job at the time, and felt I was mostly isolated in the lab.


A little background into what it is I really do now is I am tasked with being the last person to check on all of our Mercury Analyzers before they ship off to our customers. This job is special in the way that it is hands on more than most forms of chemistry, rather than running a test for the chemical sample, I am testing the instrument and making sure it is preforming properly. It resembles one of the classes I enjoyed involving instrument analysis where I first got to take apart different instruments in the lab and really understand what is happening behind the instrument. The job can involve using a screwdriver just as much as a pipet as you have to get into the guts of the instrument now and then and see where the gas flow is flowing, detector is detecting, and everything in between.


When something does go wrong is when I am really needed. I need to be able to look at the data, or see what is going on with the instrument well enough to identify what could be going wrong, or be able to explain it to one of the builders, engineers, or apps chemists to help isolate the issue and resolve it. I may not always be the one who knows what’s going, on but I need to be the one who knows and speaks up when something is not doing what it is supposed to. It was very early on explained to me that I was not alone at this job and repeatedly reminded I was now apart of a team and to never be afraid of asking for help.


My very first day is a great example of this, as it involved troubleshooting right away. While a big part of the job I did expect to be taking apart and putting back together instruments, I had no idea I would be helping work on a furnace roughly six or seven times looking for a hidden gas leak right away. Our Applications Chemist who has been training me had spent time on this particular problem even before I had come into the team, alongside engineers and our builders. I was repeatedly shown how our team worked together without it needing to be explicitly stated. Everyone able to share ideas and help give input, no one pressured for any answers, and lots and lots of trials. The leak was found in the end and things became pretty calm the next few days, but I feel I learned the most on the first day when things were going wrong, rather than right. I came into the building and position knowing I knew very little about the role and instruments I would be working with and this was a very quick way for me to learn about the instruments, and really get to know and feel a part of a team and I loved it.


It was terrifying and overwhelming experience for a first day, working on an instrument I was unfamiliar with, poking around the so called ‘guts’ next to a circuit t board, which I had never done before. However, I was part of a team now and I wasn’t expected to do it alone, much less take the driver seat on my first day, I was there to learn and understand what the analyzers I would be working with are like and there’s no better way to do that then pulling them apart and looking at how they really work. It’s one of my favorite parts about the job but can also early on be one of the more overwhelming parts too so it was nice to rip off the band-aide and dive on in.


Some jobs have very repeatable and scheduled routines where the workday or work week becomes predictable and monotonous. Whether it’s being hidden away in the back of a lab pipetting sample after sample one day, and checking chromatographs the next day, or going through simple daily routines of opening and closing a site and simply going through a checklist of chores. I have been through a few jobs like this in the past, feeling unengaged and losing interest in the tasks I am asked to do. This is not the case when it comes to being here as a Quality Control Chemist in my experience, there will always be something new to learn and keep me engaged with the job which is what truly draws me to the work.

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