Pit Stop No21: 5 years at McGill and 6 points to remember

During my last semester at McGill (almost a year ago, already!) I took an ethics class, which was required to all graduating students in engineering. Towards the end of the course we were asked to submit a life-long learning plan of skills and areas we would likely develop in the future. I took this opportunity to reflect on my five years at McGill and came up with 6 points that I think are important regardless the industry or career path.

  • Communication – Although there is a widespread belief that communication comes second after technical skills in engineering, my time at McGill has taught me otherwise. I’ve learnt how crucial is it to communicate clearly when I interned at an underground mine in Northern Quebec, where communication was key to ensure that operations were executed safely. Interestingly, two things have helped me improve my communication skills: writing cover letters and blogging. Blogging has been helpful as it forced me to write in ways that would entice my readers while allowing me the flexibility to post whenever I had the time.

 

  • Interpersonal Skills – Working well with others is an integral part for achieving success. Useful tools include becoming friends with your teammates, being flexible in assigning work tasks and staying positive even though you’re at Plan C and stress level is high.

 

  • Feedback exchange – This concept was first introduced to me during the McGill Not-For-Profit consulting program, a program that I applied for and administered by the Faculty of Management at McGill. The program provides its participants the opportunity to do consulting work while being guided by McKinsey consultants. Feedback exchange is about giving and receiving constructive feedback to identify areas that you and your team members can work on. When given properly, feedback empowers a team to achieve greater results.

 

  • Leadership skills – Taking on leadership roles during my undergrads has helped me develop myself, make valuable connections and become more assertive. I started getting involved in the engineering community as early as during my first year and after a couple of semesters I was leading small student organizations. Taking on these various leadership roles has provided me with opportunities that I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. Thanks to my involvements, I gave two live TV interviews promoting an event I helped organize, I presented an award to the VP of one of the largest gold miners in Canada and was recognized as one of the most promising women undergraduate engineering student by the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation.                                                                                                                Having extracurricular engagements can be a challenge in terms of finding the time to balance studying, meetings, personal life and relationships, but the impact you make and the people you meet are worth the effort and time, and that’s on top of the personal and professional development you make. Important to mention that being involved in extracurricular activities makes you more attractive to companies looking to hire.

 

  • Emotional intelligence (EQ) – Although we don’t often hear about emotional intelligence at university, I came across the concept while reading Forbes and other business magazines. The concept became known when businesses started to notice that employees with higher IQ were not outperforming those with less IQ which had to be explained by a person’s emotional intelligence. Being mindful of one’s emotions and those of the people around you, and how to foster these emotions to calm down or cheer people up is a valuable tool to succeed in any work environment.                                                                                                          Check out these pages to learn more about EQ:

https://www.ihhp.com/meaning-of-emotional-intelligence

https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/11/health/improve-emotional-intelligence/index.html

  • Learning & Innovation – What I got out of studying engineering are the tools and skills to constantly learn new things and apply them. This process is crucial in staying up to date with new technologies and innovations that will never cease to shape our future. I found that a good way to keep up is reading the news (the Economist has been recommended to me several times), following innovators on social media (Twitter in particular), and taking advantage of online tutorials.
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Pit Stop No16: The Do’s and Don’ts of working on a mine site

If you are a mining student like me and want to get the most of your experience on a mine site, check out the list below of the do’s and the don’ts! I obviously don’t know everything about mining or working on a camp so feel free to comment any suggestions you may have!

The Do’s The Don’ts
1. Just starting your first mine job? Feeling a little anxious or overwhelmed? Do relax! Mines can seem like big scary dark places but I can assure you, they are not! 1. Don’t underestimate the importance of safety on a mine site!
2. The first week is usually paperwork and site visit; do pay attention to lunch places, your supervisor’s office and the toilets (everyone has cravings…) 2. Do not come to work late… just don’t.
3. Always wear ALL of the safety equipment before going onsite! And when I say ALL, I mean like ALL of the safety equipment. 3. Don’t expect things to be smooth or easy… mines are rough and bumpy; get used to it.
4. Do get to know you colleagues; what got them into mining, their career path… It helps to break the first-week-awkward silence. 4. Don’t pretend you know it all… you don’t.
5. Do ask questions, any questions… do it. 5. Don’t wait for work to come to you! Try to ask yourself this question every day: how am I creating value today?
6. Since some mine sites are in a galaxy far far away, I do encourage you to make friends at the office! 6. A special one for female miners: you are no different than a man so don’t expect to be treated differently.
7. Learn!! Learn to cook, to clean, to sleep early (that one’s important) and if you have some extra time … you won’t have extra time. 7. Don’t complain about your job/boss, mining internships are pretty rare these days #downturn
8. Feeling lonely on some afternoons? Time to renew your Netflix subscription! 8. Don’t take days off from your internship especially if it’s 4-month, you want to give the best impression!
9. Do Skype with your friends and family; let them know you are still alive… after all, mines are that dangerous! 9. Don’t rush when handling expensive equipment! If you’re a surveyor like I was, you DON’T want to be remembered as the one who dropped the total station.
10. Get dirty… not that way! I mean go underground or in the pit whenever you get the chance! 10. Don’t expect to have everything right the first time, it is okay to make mistakes… but please do learn!