• Candid Advice from Women in STEM on Pursuing and Achieving Career Goals at 3M

    • 3M Careers: Candid Advice from Women in STEM - Tamera Fenske, Director of Supply Chain

      At 3M, our 91,000 employees across the globe inspire us every day by devoting their work to improving lives all over the world. And Manufacturing Engineer Alina Dattagupta and Director of Supply Chain Tamera Fenske are no exception. Based on their combined years at 3M–a total of 19–and their innovative spirit, we asked Alina and Tamera to share with us their journeys to careers in STEM at 3M and their advice for those starting their careers.

      Some would say STEM has become a more popular career path recently, but we all know it’s been around forever. What was your first introduction into STEM?
      Alina: My dad is an engineer and growing up I saw the impact he made in the lives of others. He would get to travel the world and experience new cultures, all while presenting cutting edge ideas. My admiration for my dad mixed with my love for math and science led me to pursue engineering. And I’m so glad I did. In my first couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to be immersed in visits at multiple plants and learn from a wide variety of people through the O2 program. This exposure helps me bring best practices to my everyday job.

      Tamera: I have always been interested in math and science and was supported along the way by my teachers and professors. I had family working in technical positions at other major companies, and my grandfather was an engineer. I witnessed their careers and the exciting things they were able to work on and was very interested. They also encouraged me through a variety of summer camps and workshops. I appreciate the hands-on nature of the sciences and love to understand “how things work.”

    • 3M Careers: Candid Advice from Women in STEM - Alina Dattagupta, Manufacturing Engineer

      So how did your interest in STEM lead you to a career at 3M?
      Alina: 3M has always been on my radar. My senior year of college, I found out that they were going to be at a Society of Women Engineers conference in Nashville, so I made sure I was the first one in line at the booth. I spoke to the manager of the O2 program and it was everything I was looking for—a new hire program for engineers that would help me transition into the workforce while providing me with the network I needed to be successful. The rest is history. I’ve been at 3M for two years now.

      Tamera: I asked my professors at Michigan Tech who I should work for, and me being an Environmental Engineer, they all said 3M based on the innovation and company’s history. By October of my senior year, I was fortunate to have offers from Kimberly Clark, Marathon Ashland Petroleum, IBM and 3M.

      With 3M, I knew I had chosen correctly when a personal situation came up while I was transitioning from college to 3M. They helped me tremendously, above and beyond anything they needed to do, and I told myself I would retire from this company. I’ve been a loyal employee for 17 years because they are incredibly ethical, sustainable and supportive.

      You spoke earlier about starting a career in STEM because you saw it impacting those and the world around you. Many 3Mers love their jobs because they feel as though they are doing work that truly makes a difference in the world. How do you see your work impacting lives around the world?
      Alina: As a Manufacturing Engineer in the aerospace division, I’m constantly able to see the applications of our products. We make high performance adhesives used in aerospace structural bonding applications. These have been used for over 50 years in aircraft manufacturing and have proven to be more reliable than mechanical fasteners such as rivets. While this is daunting, I feel like I am making a difference every single day, because so many people fly regularly.

      Tamera: I am lucky enough to be a director in the Personal Safety Division within the Safety & Graphics Business Group. We make products that people wear to protect themselves, and my role is to make sure that our products arrive wherever in the world they are needed. We create things like the self-contained breathing apparatuses on firefighters’ backs or the medical respirators in hospitals, so our products are typically needed in times of crisis.

      At 3M, we’re making great efforts to hire more and more women into STEM fields, but there is still inequality in the STEM fields in general. What advice can you share for women starting their careers who find themselves the only women in the room?
      Tamera: I’m often the sole woman in the room, but I usually don’t notice until someone points it out. I’m fortunate to have peers and leaders who are inclusive and helpful. To me it always has and always will be this simple: if it is something you are interested in and passionate about, your gender shouldn’t matter.

      Alina: I am the only female engineer in my department, and when I first started I felt intimidated. After realizing others in my department wanted to help me grow and didn’t treat me any differently, I realized I shouldn’t feel different because I am the minority. My advice instead would be to rely on your allies and use your differing experiences to grow and stand out.

      What type of role has having a mentor or being a mentor played in your career?
      Alina: Having mentors has made all the difference in my career. My mentors have helped me make professional as well as personal decisions and have always provided me with invaluable input. Since having mentors has been so rewarding, I have always been ready to pay it forward – I love helping others develop and grow as well as be a resource they can count on to help them navigate through their careers. One of my favorite parts about 3M is that everyone is so willing to help you be successful.

      Tamera: I have had great advice from a mentor who has assisted me through short-term challenges as well as long-term career decisions. The great thing about 3M is that there are many options available to grow and develop your career, but it can also be difficult to navigate because of all the options. Mentors have helped me understand the opportunities better as well as expose me to options that I wasn’t even familiar with. Because of that, I feel it is important to also be a mentor to others.

      Share and start your 3M experience.
      Alina and Tamera’s stories are truly inspiring and at 3M, we want to make sure all our employees’ voices are heard. Whether you’re a candidate who has interviewed with 3M or a current employee, we’d love for you to anonymously share your experiences with us on our Glassdoor page.

      Interested in working at 3M? Join our Talent Community.