2017 Young Women’s Conference – Winnipeg: mentoring the next generation

On Thursday, November 16th, 2017, one of the owners of MG Services, Muriel Torchia Shyjak, attended the Young Women’s Conference to act as mentor for the day.

“The Young Women’s Conference is a one day event hosted in Thompson, The Pas, Brandon, Dauphin, and Winnipeg, which highlights skilled trades and technology occupations.

Young participants meet female mentors working in the trades or technology fields, participate in team-building and hands-on activities, and receive information on employment opportunities and career planning. This conference is intended to provide female role models to young women and to assist them in planning their future career.”

The Young Women’s Conference at the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT), jointly hosted with Skills Canada Manitoba introduces and exposes female highschool student (there were grade 9 to 12 students in attendance) to technology and trades they might otherwise never be exposed to.

The day started with introductions and safety rules as everyone would be visiting different workshops throughout the day. Mentors and participants were split into two groups to either try some trades hands-on (hair dressing, culinary arts, motorsport, welding, millwright work, for example) or to work in teams to build mini picnic tables with the carpentry department and some of the colleges instructors and students.

Following the first group activity, students, teachers, mentors, and guides all came back to the meeting room for round-table presentations by the mentors. The students traveled from table to table learning about each female mentor’s training and education, their career paths, and asking questions and engaging with the mentors was encouraged.

The day was filled with enthusiastic young women whose excited have the chance both to speak up and to use their hands was contagious. Some of the participants started off nervous and shy, but the instructors openness, encouragement, and enthusiasm really helped everyone feel comfortable. It was truly inspirational to watch as confidence grew while the day went.

After lunch, each group switched activities. Muriel went with the group building mini-picnic tables in the afternoon. Confidence and excitement started to build and the energy in the air was electric (pun not intended). The students were laughing and sharing the tasks and were genuinely having a great time together. With various schools and grades taking part in this conference, many of the young women were strangers to each other -there was some initial nervousness and trepidation. By the end of the day, there was applause for all of the mentors and instructors, hugs, selfies, and new friendships. What everyone took home with them was instilled confidence that anything was possible.