Occupational Health and Safety student finds a fit in the Arctic

Meghan MacLean in the Arctic.

Meghan MacLean was a first-year Occupational Health and Safety student with no work experience in her field when she began looking for a summer job.

“Many of my classmates had experience in a heavy industry – from construction to logging – while mine consisted of administrative and serving jobs,” she relates.

To set herself apart, Meghan turned to social networking. “I posted in all of the Occupational Health and Safety forums on LinkedIn,” she says. After a couple of months of conversations with various employers, a former BCIT grad hired Meghan as a Health, Safety, Loss Prevention summer intern at a gold mine in Nunavut.

From June to September 2010, Meghan worked for Hope Bay Mining Ltd, a subsidiary of Newmont Mining. Their gold mine, in the high Arctic, was in the building phase. Meghan spent much of the summer doing new worker orientations, and being the point of first contact for all new-to-site workers.

“My boss and coworkers were eager to teach me about various aspects of the site,” says Meghan, “as well as taking me behind the scenes in many aspects of the mine.” Meghan was able to participate in incident investigations, go on a helicopter to a drill site to do an ergonomic study, do inspections, watch spill response training, as well as many other adventures.

“Although I was a summer student, I did not feel like I was talked down to, but more being taught by everyone I have met,” Meghan enthuses. “I felt like an equal. My skills at BCIT were definitely a great foundation, but this summer job has taken me to another level of learning.”

Meghan has now embarked on her capstone project. She is returning to Nunavut this month to conduct a five-month safety program review for the multinational company. After graduation (in spring 2011), Meghan hopes to find a permanent job with Hope Bay Mining Ltd.

“It’s a great company to work for, and I highly recommend other BCIT grads look into the company,” says Meghan. “It’s a very exciting time for the project!”

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