Caitlyn Normand '15 on Working in STEM

March 09, 2016

Caitlyn Normand

Caitlyn filled us in on working as a Bioanalytical Chemist — and why Women's History Month is important!

What was your major at Simmons?

I was a biochemistry major with a minor in public health.

What's a typical day like at your job?

A typical day for me involves analyzing data from previous work in the morning followed by analytical assays to determine identity, purity, safety, potency and quality of drug substances.

What was the job application process like for you?

Complex and very time consuming. After narrowing down what I wanted to do after graduation — that was the hardest part — I researched what companies interested me and used their websites to search for positions I qualified for. Once I found a position I was very thorough with my application and customized my résumé based on the requirements listed.

What's your favorite part of your job?

The larger impact pharmaceutical research has on patients around the world. I'm reminded daily of how important my work is and that's very rewarding.

How did you know the organization was a good fit for you?

Prior to applying for my current position I did very thorough background research on the company. The company has a longstanding reputation of treating its employees well and that is definitely an asset I was looking for. I knew from the moment I had my first interview that I was within arm’s reach of getting my dream job out of college.

What has your experience been like working in a STEM field?

My experience in STEM began early on when I developed a love for science. Initially I struggled to master the basics of biology and chemistry but was continuously fascinated by the wealth of science happening right in my backyard. I have distinct memories of being discouraged in the sciences by peers and even teachers before college but with a good work ethic and great family I was able to steer straight into a field I love. Being at Simmons and being educated on the serious gender gap in STEM solidified my feelings from high school and fueled me to succeed even beyond my own expectations.

What advice do you have for women trying to break into the STEM field?

Keep moving forward despite what anyone tells you. No family member, peer, teacher or professor should ever stop you from doing what you love. College is such a strange time and an emotional rollercoaster of discovering who you really are and what your purpose is in life. Don’t be discouraged about not knowing what your final destination is and don’t be afraid to change paths. Question everything.

Tell us about your work with Moms as Mentors.

Moms as Mentors was introduced to me by a professor at Simmons. I did some background research on the organization and fell in love with its purpose: to empower girls. Although simple in theory, Moms as Mentors accomplishes the difficult task of creating a solution to the gender gap of women in STEM beginning at an young age. Moms and their daughters are exposed to simple, fun and engaging activities that get girls thinking about fields like STEM, finance and politics.

Why are women and girl serving organizations — like Moms as Mentors — so important?

The difficulties of being a woman in a field dominated by men are well known and studied. The pipeline into STEM fields is leaky at many levels from elementary school through college and also in the workplace. Girl serving organizations like Moms as Mentors are so important to keeping girls thinking about and enjoying STEM. Girls feel empowered to do anything they set their minds to at the end of the Moms as Mentors programs and that's the ultimate goal.

Why is Women's History Month important to you?

It's a reminder that we matter. Despite the dominance of men in STEM fields there is much accomplished by women that shouldn't be forgotten. Since the role of a woman has changed so much in history, March is a chance to acknowledge where we’ve been, where we are going and how we can change stereotypes.