Sunday, October 7, 2018

Women in STEM | Jamila's Story


Meet Jamila Kyari! Jamila is one of a few women who answered the call when I put out a request for women working in STEM, (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths industries). Jamila is a Communications Manager, born and raised in Nigeria for most of her early life and into the late teens. She currently resides in Canada where she has lived for almost over 14 years. Jamila is the first of many women who will feature on Madeline Wilson-Ojo, and her interview is riveting! I hope reading her story will inspire you. 

What you do and for how long you've been doing it?
Right now, I'm the Communications Manager for a national organisation that offers innovative teaching tools and rich educational experiences for youth about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and environmental topics within three key areas of focus – energy, climate change, and green economy. All programs are designed to empower and equip young people to create positive social, economic and environmental change in their lives, schools, and communities. Having worked in the marketing communications field for about a decade, I have gained valuable experience all of which have prepared me for my current role.

For the past two years and working within mostly a digital context, I have been supporting the marketing and communications of those STEM programs from concept and design to delivery. The position has challenged me to stay at the forefront of how organizations can leverage cutting-edge teaching tools in EdTech to support teachers in their work while meshing science with digital communications technologies in the classroom to help students build their 21st-century skills.



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How or why you got into your role/industry:
My first love is writing and therefore, communications seemed like a viable option for me when I initially moved to Canada to pursue my education. I gained admission into Durham College in Oshawa for a diploma in public relations. Later, I went on to get a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies at York University in Toronto. At the time, I knew that this stream of study would enable me to work as a communicator in any sector but I did not particularly envision myself working in STEM.

My foray into communications for the environmental sector occurred as a mere orchestration of events in favour of consistent networking, an aggressive job search and a genuine interest in the environment. I have always had a strong interest in working with educators, students and youth within a capacity that ties learning to local issues. More so, my job allows me to work with experts in the field – engineers and scientists on the uptake of STEM programs and also a range of interesting, fun and practical environmental and sustainability projects that help create a better world.

What challenges have you faced in your role? How have you overcome them?
All industries and sectors have their unique challenges but I have trained myself to view the obstacles as opportunities. The fact that I am a person of colour and a woman means that I've had to persist by taking ownership of my career, working smarter rather harder and resisting the need to undermine my abilities – all of this in a field that is often dominated by males and non-minorities. My secret weapon is self-love and positive affirmations, which I have used to develop the mental resilience necessary to overcome the feelings of inadequacy and rise above whatever negative stereotypes may come my way.

Any advice for other women wanting to join the STEM industry?
My first advice to women is to realise that there are a diversity of roles in the STEM field and there are many ways to interact with the industry. You do not necessarily have to be a scientist or an engineer to make your mark. You can work and engage with others in the sector via creative methods. Today, there are certain aspects of STEM that even interact with the arts and humanities so if that interests you, go for it.

Mentorship is also important. Whenever I am trying to navigate my job or make a bold career shift, I stand on the shoulders of giants – and by that, I am referring to my mentors who have the insight and capacity to guide my transition. Of course, there should be a value exchange and this means ensuring that I am also bringing something to the table whether it's helping them out with their own projects or being an asset to their hustle. We need to help each other move up the ladder while leaving the door open for others behind us. Find a mentor who is already doing what you want to do and learn as much as you can from them.


What do you do outside of work?
During my spare time, I use my digital content skills to author a fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog for women where I also offer communications and marketing consulting. For further insight into my daily life, readers can follow me online.

What book you are currently reading?
I have a penchant for self-help books for women. I am currently reading “The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate” by Fran Hauser. This book will get you thinking about how to level-up in your career and navigate the rigorous demands of the workplace without becoming the stereotypical mean girl. It is simple to read and involves practical application.

How can we connect with you?



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