How I Made It

Melanie Cambia, RCMP Officer

FLARE #HowIMadeIt celebrates 100+ talented, ambitious and driven Canadian women with cool jobs. Want what Melanie has? Here's how she did it

How I Made It community builders: Melanie Cambia wears her RCMP uniform and kneels in front of an RCMP patrol carConstable Melanie Cambia; Nova Scotia; @mecambia 

Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?

I work for the government as an RCMP officer, which consists of serving and protecting the community.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I went to Dawson College and John Abbott College, and studied sciences and police technology.

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

While at school, I worked as a security guard and a cadet for the SPVM (Montreal Police Department). My career started right after college and I went to Depot at the RCMP Academy in Regina to be trained as an RCMP officer.

What was your BIG break? How did you land it?

I was lucky in having parents who supported and encouraged my decision to pursue my dream of becoming a police officer. As far as landing “my BIG break,” I’ve worked extremely hard. I obtained high honours in college, which ensured my application to the RCMP would stand out amongst other applicants. My application process did not come without hurdles, but I never lost sight of my dream. I got accepted in the RCMP when I was 22 and I’ve been a member for 10 years.

Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?

The recruiting process for the RCMP lasted for two years. I was a full-time student as well as working full-time to pay for my apartment and other expenses. When I received the phone call to say that I had passed the recruiting process, that was the moment that I realized that it was actually happening. After six gruelling months at Depot, I earned the right to wear the iconic Red Serge.

What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

In my line of work, I deal with people who are often at their worst. I’m faced with very challenging situations that sometimes don’t have happy endings. So, without getting into specifics, my shortcoming was having to learn that no matter how hard I try, I can’t fix every problem.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

Stay positive, determined and confident. Don’t give up on your dream even when it seems like it’s very far away.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

“Don’t rock the boat.”

Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?

The challenges I face are within me. Am I strong enough, am I big enough, am I confident enough? Every time those questions come up, I try to push them away by having confidence in in the knowledge that the RCMP has properly trained me to trust my instincts and react to difficult situations correctly.

Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?

I would say I make good money, but I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t mind making more for the kind of job I do. Who wouldn’t? I do work overtime to make additional income, but it gets exhausting sometimes.

What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?

I would have to say it’s that we’re “lazy.” I know I don’t fit most stereotypes so this one wouldn’t be any different for me!

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