We sat down with our talented and passionate intern, Nicole, to get the inside scope on her love for Chemistry and her experience at Boulder Clean. She is a Senior studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, only 5 minutes away from our Headquarters. Read along for her advice to other women in STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), her next big adventure, and how this internship set her up for success.
Why are you passionate about chemistry? Why do you do what you do?
Ever since I was a kid I was interested in science and math and my family had a big influence on that aspect of my life. My dad would always help me with my math homework as a kid so I really got to understand the basics. When I was in high school and taking more difficult math classes, my older brother was a huge help. I actually started enjoying solving the problems like puzzles. To this day I still enjoy chemistry because there is a lot of problem solving and math involved that I can now apply to real world problems.
What’s your advice to other women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields?
My advice to young females going into STEM fields is to never give up. I have been told ‘no’ or ‘you probably shouldn’t do it’ numerous times. I have even been told this by females in the STEM field who were supposed to advise me and help me. I have also failed exams, stayed up all night to work on one homework question, and rewritten 15 page lab reports. So many times I felt like just quitting, but then little success after little success my confidence built up. I learned that sometimes you have to fail in order to succeed. No matter how many people tell you no or how many little obstacles you cross, keep on going for the passion that made you get into STEM in the first place.
How have your classes at CU prepared you for this internship?
My lectures at CU provided the basic theory of chemistry where as my labs showed me how to apply those theories. Combined they have set me up for success in the industry. My favorite classes are the hands-on labs; this is where I discovered my passion for mixing solutions and learned lab techniques I have used in this internship.
How did you hear about Boulder Clean?
I heard about Boulder Clean through a family friend, Mark Harris. Mark went to high school with my dad and was a salesperson for Boulder Clean. He heard that I was looking for an internship and provided an introduction for me, which I am very grateful for.
Who do you look up to in your industry?
Although he is not necessarily in my industry, Elon Musk is a man I look up to most in the science and engineering industries. He is an innovator that is changing the world for the better and definitely someone to look up to for inspiration.
What was your favorite part of the internship?
My favorite part was having the freedom and full confidence of my supervisor, Carly Marriott, to explore various formulations and ingredients in the lab. In lab I was able to try out different solutions and figure out which mixed well together and which would provide the best formulas. Carly really trusted me to develop formulas but was supportive by providing me with advice from some amazing Boulder Clean chemists. These chemists really understand how to develop any formula and were able to give me so much helpful information. I owe them a huge debt of gratitude for nudging me in all the right directions.
What were the challenges that you faced during this project?
Some challenges that I faced during this project were coming up with a successful formula. In the early stages, a formula would look like a success on paper but when I would develop it in the lab it would not always turn out the way I wanted. This happened numerous times and although it was frustrating at times, it also taught me valuable lessons about the product I wanted to make.
What did you learn or take away from this internship?
I learned an enormous amount from this internship due to hands on experience in the lab, the freedom to research formulas, and guidance from Boulder Clean chemists. The skills that I have obtained from Boulder Clean will be valuable for me in future careers.
Where would you like to take your experience in the next few years?
I would like to find other opportunities in the formulist industry. I really enjoyed my experience developing a product from the bottom up and I would be interested in seeing what other products would be fun to make.
What are some hobbies you enjoy outside of work/school?
I really enjoy any activity in the outdoors especially running and hiking. I have run a race called Ragnar for the past 5 years and I plan on doing this race for years to come. Traveling is also another hobby I enjoy; anytime I can take time away from work or school I will start planning a trip whether it is to California to see my niece or Nepal to see Mount Everest.