Gatineau newsprint mill intern Lina Sbai’s second blogpost
Hello dear readers and fellow bloggers,
Time goes by so fast! This is my third month as an intern at Resolute, and I have to say that it feels much longer. There is so much to learn and to do every day, especially the last couple of weeks during which I received new projects from my supervisor. After two months, I feel like I am starting to get a clearer idea of how to do and manage my daily tasks, and prepare my long term projects. But before I start describing my current progress in more detail, it would be more interesting to tell you about how I was, 2 months ago, at the beginning of my internship.
Remember your first day at a new school? That morning when you felt nauseous at breakfast and your parents finally convinced you to have at least a banana before going to school? Was it excitement, fear, anticipation that was overwhelming you? Well, that’s how I felt the first day heading to work after a long bus ride, during which I was contemplating what was lying ahead… It was not my first work experience in an industrial environment, but it was my first one here at Resolute, which meant new people and a new work environment… And that’s all it took to make me feel anxious: the unknown.
Fast forward during my first week, I got to meet my supervisor, my colleagues and did some safety training. I started feeling comfortable and relaxed realizing how kind and considerate everyone was. My supervisor and colleagues were very helpful and accommodating to welcome me in the best way possible.
There is a lot to say about how important a work environment is. If you had the experience of preparing for a job interview before, you must have surfed on the company’s website looking for relevant information that might come up during the interview. You will definitely come across the company’s values segment, and see things like: “promoting diversity at our workplace and the importance of respect and integrity”. You might scroll down thinking “yeah, obviously…” looking for more interesting information. Yes, it is the most common thing to come across, but it can be the most unguaranteed statement too. So, I usually take that statement with skepticism and doubt.
I have to say: I was very surprised by the level of tolerance and respect I have encountered at my workplace. Not once did I feel excluded or looked down upon because of the way I was dressing. Walking around in the newsprint mill with a knee-length dress and pants (yes, worn at the same time) and my tucked in headscarf. Obviously, I tried finding a middle ground between safety measures and wearing modest clothing for religious reasons. But yes, that middle ground exists, thanks to my health and safety manager who discussed this matter with me. I will talk about this in more detail on a specific post about faith and spirituality in the workplace.
The point that I am trying to make here is that the comfort that I am finding during my internship lifted more than half of the weight of the anxiousness I had on my first days. I am truly and genuinely grateful for that.
During the following weeks, what was left for me is to develop the following mindset: “I know nothing of how things are run here. I don’t understand 80% of the technical conversations that my colleagues are having and I have trouble understanding most of the “Quebecois” expressions. I am making mistakes and sometimes asking the same question 3 times in a row. But that’s…OKAY! Why? Because only one thing matters to me right now: I should be better today than I was yesterday.”
I have made it clear to myself not to waste energy on being hard on myself (which I can be by nature), and instead focus on learning and filling the blank pages in my head. Working with a very helpful supervisor and colleagues made it even easier. I knew that I needed to work hard and do my best, without bringing myself down for not having all the answers. What helped me even more is the knowledge that every employee, even with 40 years of experience now, started where I am starting today (maybe the only difference is that they were capable of understanding the “Quebecois” jokes and expressions while I am still struggling with that). Every feedback and comment is an opportunity to grow and every mistake is an opportunity to reflect. I came to realize that putting on an all-knowing face and trying to show off what I know is pretty stupid, because I really don’t know much, and that’s the point. So why worry about leaving a fake impression, when I can direct my attention to learning what I don’t know.
Today, I am able to do most of my tasks with relative ease. I contact suppliers all over North America to schedule visits for maintenance and repair. I can walk around in the newsprint mill to find what I need to find and inspect damaged equipment. There are so many challenges of all types to face every day: leaking pumps and pipes, damaged bearings that cause too much vibration, gearboxes that need oil filtration, elevators that require maintenance, cooling systems with damaged valves… and the list goes on. What almost any student in mechanical engineering says after an exam: “I did well on the exam, but I have no idea how that stuff actually works.” Well, now I’m starting to, lol!
I am happy about how things are evolving. There is still a lot to learn, and I am looking forward to watching myself grow into something else… something I don’t know yet, and that’s the fun part.
Thank you for reading this post. My intention is to give authentic and honest content to encourage others to share theirs and take on challenges they never thought they would. I thank God for all the beautiful opportunities and blessings he gave me, with the hope that I am worthy of them.
Peace be with you… and stay safe!