NSERC Chair for
Women in Science & Engineering

Kalynn Spain

"I would encourage them to diversify their skills and experience by engaging in non-academic learning. "

Recruitment, Job Placement and Cooperative Education Coordinator

University of Manitoba

What is your job and what most excites you about what you do?

I am the Recruitment, Job Placement and Cooperative Education (Co-op) Coordinator for the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at the U of M. My job involves connecting suitable employers with our students enrolled in everything from Agribusiness to Nutrition to Agroecology. I support students in securing summer, co-op and permanent positions across Manitoba and beyond our provincial borders.

I also run the Ambassador Program which sends students out to elementary and high schools across Manitoba to promote the Faculty’s programs. I am absolutely amazed and motivated by the students that I work with – from the next generation of farmers to dieticians to community leaders in food distribution and discussions, the students within the Faculty are truly at the heart of my passion for my job.

How diverse is your workplace, or your field of work as a whole? What do you think should be done to support greater diversity and create more inclusive practices in your workplace and in the Agriculture field?

The Faculty is fairly diverse, with a lot of women working as instructors, researchers and administrators. Since I started working for the Faculty this year, I have met so many inspiring women who are changing the way we think about, produce and engage with food. I feel lucky to call these women my colleagues and to learn from them every day.

I think that much more could be more done to encourage female students and young women to consider becoming a farm manager and/or owner, and to support them in this decision. Although there are more female students every year in our Faculty who are looking to work in the agricultural sector, many of them end up in areas such as Marketing, Agronomy or Nutrition as opposed to Management or Owner. A cultural shift within the sector would provide better support for women who wish to start or take over a farm business, either with or without a partner.

What advice would you give to young women interested in a career in your field?

I would encourage them to diversify their skills and experience by engaging in non-academic learning in addition to their undergraduate degree or diploma. This includes attending conferences and networking events, starting up independent projects or businesses that provide new learning challenges as well as enhancing their hands-on experiences with agriculture, food and people through volunteering, friends and employment.

What are some of your interests outside of work?

I enjoy gardening, playing soccer, going for runs, having potlucks with friends, going to farmers' markets

What are you most hoping you will learn from your mentee? What learning goals do you have for this experience?

I am hoping to learn about her career challenges and what kinds of barriers she is facing to pursuing her goals.