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 Senior Research Specialist Maria Appeaning and Technical Services Specialist Bridgette Shannon are no exception.
We recently asked Maria and Bridgette to share with us what being a 3Mer means to them, what it has been like to work here for a combined 16 years, and the positive changes they’ve seen for women in STEM.
Each of you have called yourselves 3Mers for a while. Maria, you’ve been here for 12 years and Bridgette you’ve been here for four years. Is there anything that surprised you when you first started or still surprises you about 3M?
Maria: 3M is an incredibly diverse place with a myriad of truly innovative products. What’s amazing is how each of those products combines two, three, or more technology platforms that are brought together brilliantly to create magic!
Bridgette: 3M has been around for more than 100 years, and I am lucky enough to be a part of the oldest and first division, Abrasive Systems. We started with mining minerals to make sandpaper and have continued to re-invent abrasives. 3M has set the standard for fostering creativity and finding new ways to innovate, which has helped us to remain relevant in the marketplace and win with our customers.
I’m sure you’ve also noticed that many people start their careers here and end up staying for a long time. Why do you think 3M ranks high with people starting out their careers?
Maria: 3M’s unique 15% Culture and the can-do attitude of its employees are a point of pride. Also, many of our products have high visibility and our brands have become household names. Combined, I think these factors provide an ideal environment for new employees as they strive to make their mark on the world while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Bridgette: I think 3M being a Fortune 500 company and a Dow Jones 30 stock causes us to be well-known and highly regarded for doing important things for the world. Also, I know that 3M supply chain, engineering and operations are frequently referenced as case studies in business and technology schools.
Plus, our culture of flexibility, autonomy, sustainability and community service have put us on various best places to work lists and winning the Catalyst award has made us especially attractive to females looking for new opportunities.
3M also encourages new employees to find a mentor when they begin their 3M journey. What type of role has having a mentor or being a mentor played in your career?
Maria: I think one experiences immense personal growth through a mentoring relationship whether you are the mentor or mentee.
Bridgette: In general, I think mentor/mentee relationships serve as a support system and sounding board for both individuals. As a mentee, it has helped me see challenges from a different perspective. Some examples have been obtaining advice on a career or getting insights on how to deal with a difficult person.
On the flip side, as a mentor, it is rewarding to be able to share what I have learned and bridges I have built with others so that they can accelerate through a similar challenge or experience.
We have so many amazing women in STEM like you both here at 3M. What’s the biggest change for women in STEM you’ve seen since starting your career?
Maria: The number of organizations that create initiatives designed to get young females excited and interested in science, technology, engineering, and math fields (STEM) is increasing. The increased investment into such organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) or the Association for Women in Science which build effective initiatives to bring more women into STEM occupations is starting to pay off. Seeing more women in STEM fields sends a strong message of inclusivity.
Bridgette: Visibility and exposure. I am seeing more women each day being encouraged to pursue STEM careers and in so many different ways. You see it in Women Who Code, Girls Rock campaigns, and cartoon characters and toys that represent women in STEM like Doc McStuffins. Even Barbie has new women in STEM toys! Seeing these pockets of investment in women in STEM is truly inspiring.
Speaking of women in STEM, what advice do you have for those women in STEM entering the workforce?
Maria: Continue to learn and maintain awareness of the current megatrends in your industry. Be opportunity-focused, collaborative and an effective self-advocate.
Bridgette: Build your technical credibility by contributing what you can to projects and make sure that people know what you are working on. Look for the top problems that need solving in your organization and ask to be a part of those programs or find ways to help.
Also, don’t shy away from leading projects just because you are new.
Lastly, be aware that you may have to make some personal adjustments in the way you interact with people, but never compromise your authentic self in the process.
Share and start your 3M experience.
Maria and Bridgette’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.