THE importance of networking, commitment to community, backing your own ability and setting your individual style were top of mind at the third Women's STEM JumpStart program two-day bootcamp held at Muresk Institute, Northam, last week.
A total of 25 women from as far afield as Albany, Narembeen and Dunsborough were exposed to leadership and career skills to take them into the next stage of their individual employment journeys by facilitators and Value Creators directors Maree Gooch and Ann Maree O'Callaghan.
The grassroots capacity building program - aimed at young rural, regional and remote women with an emphasis on the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths - is run in partnership with The Rural, Regional, Remote Women's Network of WA and funded by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet's office for women.
Hearing from other women in industry about their own career journeys was a key part of the experience.
At Northam last week The WA Nationals leader Mia Davies, who took time out from a busy campaign schedule two days out from the Federal election to speak at the dinner event.
Proof growing up in a small regional town is not a barrier to achievement, the Wyalkatchem product said as "the shyest kid in her class at primary school" she would have been the one considered least likely to enter the often rough and tumble world of politics.
"If you had told me that I would become the leader of the Opposition in WA, the first National to hold the position since 1947, of course I wouldn't have believed it," Ms Davies said.
"I originally wanted to be a vet and went down a sciences path studying biology but later found a love of the arts and was driven by a desire to contribute in my community.
"One of the best pieces of advice I was given along the way was the power of being able to switch readily between using both the sciences and the creative side of your brain equally well.
"It's OK to have all the skills, knowledge and technical nous from the science side, but you need the arts side to communicate this information, to inspire and excite," she said.
"Don't limit your thinking in what you can achieve, surround yourself with good people and if there is something you are passionate about don't hold back, you will bring an important voice.
"As women we often take a step back and think someone else can do the job better, but there is no-one better.
"I, like many others, have had doubts at every juncture and sometimes we just need a little push.
"But there are no limits, back yourself and create your own pathway."
Regional Development Australia Wheatbelt director of regional development Mandy Walker also brought some important messages, delivered with plenty of humour and self deprecation.
"When I was growing up the thought was that girls don't do science," Ms Walker said.
"But they can and they do.
"Say yes to everything, you don't have to know everything about a role to put your hand up for it.
"You can learn as you go and drop this notion I hear of fake it 'til you make it.
"You are not faking it, you are practising, learning and upskilling and you can always find a solution to problems but don't get stuck doing something you don't want to do or don't want to be.
"You will do a lot better at something you love and it will be more effortless for you.
"Fail often and fail fast - you can only make decisions on the best advice and information you have at the time so don't dwell on the what-ifs, make a decision and get on with it.
"Learn to understand yourself, to reinvent yourself if needed and know the impact you have on others around you - you will be a better leader for it."
As a champion of "the regional city of the Wheatbelt" with its "wealth of smart, innovative individuals through its 77,000 people and 200 communities", Ms Walker shared her vision to bring manufacturing, space science, even rockets to the region which "would present so many employment and career opportunities".
Women's STEM JumpStart program alumni Jorden Mills, who now works at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development at Northam, said completing the first JumpStart program at Mandurah last December had given her great networking opportunities, connection to like-minded people and the confidence to apply for roles she perhaps otherwise wouldn't have.
"It's also encouraged me to take on volunteer roles such as secretary of our Northam Women in Business group," Ms Mills said.
"My advice is seek support, encouragement and feedback, find ways to upskill, use social media to your power and be loud and proud for what you are passionate about, which for me is agriculture and regional communities."
With a total of 59 people having completed the first three JumpStart courses at Mandurah last December, Albany in February and now Northam, there is clearly demand for what the program offers.
Ten workshops have been planned in total through until 2024, with the next being at Geraldton in September, Perth in November and the inaugural Connect Forum in Perth in June this year.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.