As the Wonder Woman movie premieres, we sat down with our very own superhero Naomi Galinski, who volunteers her time at SCWIST, a non-profit which aims to promote, encourage and empower women and girls in science, engineering and technology!
Naomi grew up in Austria and earned her Masters in Astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. She moved to Vancouver to do her PhD in Nuclear Astrophysics, and is now a Technical Support Analyst at Copperleaf—and our resident disc golf champion! She’s known as a “Wonder Woman” at SCWIST for her role in organizing events and her unique story.
Why did you get involved with SCWIST?
When I was in the midst of switching careers – getting out of academia and into industry work – SCWIST was a wonderful support network and resource. I found there were a lot of women who were very educated and highly qualified, but were having the same career stumbling blocks as I was. Having a network helped me realize I wasn’t alone and provided ideas for things I could do to make my career transition easier. I attended their high quality career development workshops, and after I made my career switch, I felt it was time to give back.
Why did you decide to switch careers?
After completing my PhD, I wanted to stay in Vancouver because I really enjoyed the outdoors here. However, I wasn’t able to find any post-doctorate research positions in my field, and a research career path would have meant moving countries multiple times to gain experience in different labs. I decided to think outside the box and be a bit more creative about my future.
How did you manage to transition into an industry role?
The transition from academia to industry was difficult because I had no idea what roles were available and what companies to look at. Job searching wasn’t a skill I learned in university, so I needed to learn it on my own. My career advisor at SFU suggested networking! I cold called companies to ask for information interviews and had a high success rate.
While I was cold calling, I remembered Judi Hess, CEO of Copperleaf, from a Women in Physics event in 2012. I reached out to the conference coordinator to ask for Judi’s contact details and was told to look at the Copperleaf website. I emailed firstname.lastname@example.org and Daryl Spencer (VP of Finance & Operations) personally responded. And the rest is history!
What do you like about working at Copperleaf?
Copperleaf has a great culture. It’s a place where the goal is always to bring out the best in people and where all ideas are welcome. For example, I’m currently in the midst of building a health and wellness program at Copperleaf! I feel that I can go to anyone at any level to get advice, and that I have the the freedom to be creative.
I also love that I am able to have a great work / life balance, which wasn’t possible while I was studying.
Was there anything that surprised you about working at Copperleaf?
There were lots of positive surprises when I started! One of the stereotypes is that working in industry is boring, but my role has so many different things to do. Copperleaf is growing so fast and I get to grow with it. I’ve been learning many new skills, especially soft skills like talking to customers, dealing with people when they are upset, and negotiating.
Do you have any advice for being a Wonder Woman?
Know what you’re good at, and focus on that instead of emphasizing what you’re not good at. Often young women want to be honest and let people know both their strong and weak points. Be confident and focus on the good stuff!
Copperleaf is always looking for more superheroes to join our team! Check out our current job openings here.
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