“Chemistry is all around us. Look around the room – a good percentage of the items you see will have our products on them,” said MaryLinda Schumann ’78 ’83 MA. She’s a Technical Support Manager with Chemetall, a surface treatment company. Schumann has been with the company for more than thirty years. “It has been great, and it continues to be a great learning experience.”
“I didn’t really know what was out there, let alone know anything about specialty chemicals,” she said, describing her start in the specialty chemical industry. She double majored in Chemistry and Biology. “I always knew I wanted to be a chemist. All my chemistry professors in college were good,” she said, “especially Dr. Kasner- he was great!” When she took General Chemistry with Dr. Marc Kasner, her passion for chemistry blossomed. “He was lively and stood out,” she said. She remembers him making chemistry fun and interesting.
Though she commuted all four years, Schumann stayed involved on campus. She was part of Iota Gamma Xi, where she met friends from all different disciplines. Networking within the sorority proved to be extremely beneficial for Schumann. One of her sorority sisters has a friend at a water treatment facility and was able to get her a part-time job there. After she graduated, Schumann looked for a full-time position in the field.
“As is the case with most fresh-out-of -school students, I didn’t really know what was out there, let alone know anything about specialty chemicals.,” she said. “I was looking for any chemistry job, and saw an ad for a Maintenance Person for a chemical company. I blindly sent off my resume, and coincidentally they had let someone go that week.” She got an interview, then the job.
Today, Schumann is the Technical Support Manager at Chemetall. “Being in Management, no two days are the same, and I gave up having a “To Do” list for the day a long time ago,” she said, describing her busy schedule. She oversees groups in New Jersey, California, Michigan and Canada. Each group has a particular field to support, such as environmental exposure. As a manager, Schumann takes pride in her teams’ successes. “I love when one of my groups works tirelessly on a project that results in good sales or the resolution of a difficult problem. I like to see them get recognized for their hard work.”
Schumann also works with Montclair State to set up internship positions for students and works with them to help decide if specialty chemicals is the right field for them. “I really enjoy helping students with this. One thing I find,” she continued, “is that a lot of students think pharmaceuticals is the only place to use chemistry. Chemistry is everywhere. There are opportunities in food, quality control, just about everywhere.”
“Do your passion,” she advises current chemistry students. “Go for it! When you get up in the morning, you had better be glad that you are going to the job you have and that you enjoy it, or it is time to reconsider what you are doing.”