Program Support Coordinator, Outreach for Let's Talk Science
I was born/grew up in: St.Thomas Ontario, Canada
I now live in: London, Ontario, Canada
I completed my training/education at: After high school I went to McMaster University in Hamilton for a degree in Biology and Mathematics. After a year off travelling and working, I went to Laurentian University in Sudbury for my graduate diploma in Science Communication
Describe what you do at work.
Each single day at work I can find myself doing very different things. This is what keeps it exciting! Throughout the year, I'm always communicating with our outreach volunteers. These volunteers are working with educators to go into classrooms or host events to get kids excited about science, tech, engineering, and math.
My role can range from helping them rent a car to brainstorming ideas for an activity on energy for a Grade 5 class. I try and help our volunteers to feel as prepared as possible. I do this by creating instructions for our workshops, and guides on how to run special projects (such as an on-campus event). When volunteers are doing new projects, I write a news story for our website. This lets people know about the exciting things we've been up to. Having a background in the sciences helps with this a lot - I need to understand the activities our volunteers are doing in order to support them.
I also work on tracking our outreach statistics. This includes how many volunteers we have each year and how many activities they've done. I also track how many kids they have reached out to as well as a lot of other details. All of the information we gather is important to understanding how we're doing each year. The information also helps us to see where we can improve. Whenever I pull a report to gather these numbers, I need to be able to take a critical look at the numbers in case something has gone wrong. My background in mathematics is a huge help with this one! Often times there is a number that is way higher than it should be or something is added by accident. So I need to be able to think through what other numbers are being affected by this and what needs to be done to fix it. I also get to work with many different coworkers and partners.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people's lives?
I like my job because I am helping people in a way that is important to me. By giving our volunteers the tools they need to go and do outreach, I am helping to reach kids and teens. All our volunteers have strong passion for what they do. So making it easy for them to share their passion is critical so that kids can see the importance and excitement that science, tech, engineering and math can bring to their lives.
What motivates you in your career?
I think the people I meet are the biggest motivators for me. Seeing kids get excited doing an activity, or finally having success after working very hard to finish a challenge never gets old. Meeting the volunteers who go out and do outreach is also a highlight for me. Our volunteers have come from a variety of backgrounds and pathways. But they come together with a shared passion for science and outreach with youth. Talking with them about their ideas for their volunteering and activity plans amazes me. They have a lot of creativity and drive.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
All through high school and my undergrad at university, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I always kept making my decisions in academics based on what I enjoyed. In university I really liked the math courses and the environmental biology classes, so I did the Biology and Math program. It made the most sense to do what I would most enjoy spending my time on.
When I finished my undergrad, I still didn't know what I wanted to do, aside from wanting to make a difference and help people. So my friend and I went on a road trip across Canada. We spent a lot of time talking to people about "making change". We found some people who have been working to help others and spoke to them. We even made a low-budget movie about our trip! From that adventure, I realized that along with enjoying science and helping others, I also enjoyed writing and making videos. So I enrolled in a Science Communications program. There I learned countless skills that prepared me for working in my current field. I started working with Let's Talk Science shortly after graduating.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
In my spare time I like to hang out with my friends and family, eat good food, play soccer, watch TV, and do yoga. I volunteer a few places, including with Let's Talk Science, and running a girls youth group to help young teens gain confidence and have a positive self-image.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Follow your passions and get involved - you can volunteer and see what you think of it before going into the career.