Name: Michelle Saquet
Occupation: Exploration Geologist
Employer: Currently unemployed
Education: BSc. Geology with Honours, University of Manitoba 2001, M.SC. Earth Sciences, University of Waterloo, 2004
What does your typical workday involve?
In my last role, I worked in a downtown office building on the 21st floor. It was about a 30 minute walk from my house to the office. Most of my job is indoors, and I had my own office. I do a fair bit of work alone in a typical day, but there would also be a few hours of scheduled meetings and impromptu sessions with my colleagues to discuss our projects. Once or twice a year, I would also travel for business.
What do you most love about your profession? Why did you choose this career?
I choose this career as I loved the sciences, but I did not feel a major pull to the pure sciences of biology or chemistry or physics. I love that geology incorporates all three and allows me to learn about how the earth was created and evolving constantly and continues to change. My favourite part of my career is working with others and solving challenges together.
When did you realize you wanted to work in STEM?
I realized in high school that I wanted to work in either math or science. I was equally good at languages in school but the sciences always interested me more, especially space. Ironically, I wanted to be an astrophysicist at first, but my physics grades in university were not very good. The brother of a good friend was taking geology in university and he told us about his summer work on the tundra which inspired me to sign up for first year geology the following year.
What were your favorite subjects in school?
My favourite subjects in school were Math, Calculus, Chemistry, English Literature and Latin.
What advice would you give girls, who are still in school, who might be considering a career like yours?
My advice is to go with your gut. Keep trying whatever speaks to you and don’t be afraid to change your mind if you believe you are on the wrong path. I spent two years in physics and math at school before changing to geology and it was absolutely the right decision for me. Luckily most of the previous courses were applicable to my geology degree. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help at university. I struggled in physics but I didn’t ask for help as I was used to doing it on my own at high school. I learned that I needed to ask for help at times and that it’s ok to ask for help.
Why do we need more women in skilled trades and STEM?
I believe we need more women in these roles as it’s gives a more balanced perspective in the workforce in the team. I don’t think we should have traditional male or female roles and that they should be open to all. I didn’t know many women in these roles growing up so I took on male mentors to expose myself to the sciences but it would be more beneficial for girls to see more women in these roles.
Who was your role model? What about this person inspires you?
My biggest role model is my mother. She’s a teacher of French and English. She taught me to be adaptable, roll with any changes that come your way, and to try. It seems simple but she taught me the worst thing that will happen is that you get a no. So apply for that stretch job or stretch role, put your name in for a scholarship or summer internship. The best case scenario is that you get it, worst is that you don’t. There is nothing to lose.
What do you do for fun? What are some of your hobbies/activities?
I have many!!! I love snowboarding and biking. Last year I also started to downhill ski. I also XC ski and snowshoe. Around the house, I play piano, knit, bake and cook. I also take care of my bikes in the summer and wax my skis/board in the winter. This summer, I’m trying out gardening again.
What superhero do you relate to most? Why?
Hmm. I don’t really know them well enough to pick one. But if I can pick someone from the fantasy world, I would pick Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She had to deal with the real world and the demon world, and I always thought it was a great portrayal of how life’s challenges could be shown in a metaphor through demons.
STEM for GIRLS
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