Manufacturing Safety for Manitoba

Three Pieces of Advice I’d Give my Younger Self

Three Pieces of Advice I’d Give my Younger Self

Posted on March 8, 2022

By Madison Palmer, Safety Trainer

 

MY BACKGROUND – WHY SAFETY?

Some of the most fulfilling job trajectories do not follow a straight line – this sentiment rings particularly true in my case. Like many young adults, the question “what do you want to do for the rest of your life?” made me nauseous. When I graduated from high school, I went straight into the transportation industry, unclear of what I wanted to do – but it was a job for the time being.

A few months turned into a few years, and I knew this wasn’t the right career path for me. It wasn’t until I was invited to join their Health and Safety Committee that I realized there was an entire area I wanted to learn more about. Shortly after, I was contacted for a position as an Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator at a foundry. Going from transportation to manufacturing was a huge shift, and definitely created some challenges, but it gave me the opportunity to learn new skills, and I knew Health and Safety was something I wanted to learn more about.

After countless hours of research, and a whole year spent updating my math (if only I actually did my math homework in high school, I wouldn’t have been in this situation), I finally got my credentials for Occupational Health and Safety.

This road has provided me with numerous possibilities, and while there’s not much I would change looking back, there are three bits of advice I would give to my younger self to help her get through those difficult times:

 

    1. A Unique Voice is Invaluable: In manufacturing, there is frequently an unconscious bias towards women. Although this may not always be the case, focusing on gaining confidence in your abilities is one strategy to overcome these obstacles. Recognize your weaknesses, and practice them. Accept responsibility for your mistakes (because you will make mistakes) and celebrate your victories (because you will definitely have victories, too). Learn to be confident in the value you bring to your team and lead by example. Don’t be afraid to speak up and continue to let your personality shine through.

 

    1. Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable: I’ve been in a lot of uncomfortable situations, and I still face them! Being a woman in manufacturing offers its own set of hurdles, but it has never deterred me from achieving my goals. Don’t allow a minor setback to keep you from achieving your ultimate goal. We learn from these difficulties and, in most cases, emerge stronger as a result. What are you doing for yourself if you never challenge yourself? These difficult moments are just transitory and pushing yourself through them will teach you a lot.

 

  1. Enjoy the Ride: Things may have seemed difficult at the time, but keep in mind that you are doing this for yourself. Enjoy the ride; take advantage of the possibilities that come your way and work hard to achieve your goals!

 

THE TAKEAWAY

As a young woman in this field, I’ve quickly learned that the road ahead will be paved with obstacles. But even though there are pitfalls, they’re always temporary, and what’s waiting on the other side is a career that I feel fulfilled by – and one that I enjoy going to every day.

The moral of this story is that there are so many careers out there you had no idea even existed – this was certainly my experience as I discovered Health and Safety. This International Women’s Day, I hope I can convince someone that a career in manufacturing, health and safety, or any other career path that didn’t stick out from the beginning is a real option! Explore the what’s available to you and do your research – you never know what you might enjoy. Remember that you are not alone; there is a large community of women – and men! – who have your back, and guidance is never far away.

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