How To Break Into A STEM Career

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers have been on the rise in recent years. If you are interested in pursuing a STEM career, below are some helpful tips to get you started. 

Know What You Want

Before jumping head first into a STEM career, it might be a good idea to first do some research. There are so many different STEM occupations out there like Chemistry, Biology, Forensic Science, Engineering, Robotics, Physics, Statistics, and many more. Look into the careers that interest you the most. Some useful questions to help guide you in your search could be:

  • What is the work place environment like?
  • What are the daily tasks I will be expected to complete?
  • What are some pros and cons to the job?
  • What degree is required? 
  • Will I have to travel?
  • Are there any dangers to working in this field? 
  • What is the salary?

If you can't narrow down your choice to just one path, try talking to someone in that field. If you're interested in engineering, search for engineers in your area. Once you find a list, you can go about setting up either an interview or a job shadowing experience. Job shadowing is exactly what it sounds like. You follow a professional around for the day to get an inside look at what the career is like. Odds are that if the professional you hope to speak with works in a government facility, you probably won't be allowed to tour the entire building. However, you shouldn't let this discourage you because you may still be able to set up an interview. It's also a good idea to talk to people currently in your prospective field because the information that can be found on the internet may be out of date, or it may not include information on the negative aspects of the career. 

Don't Be Intimidated

STEM careers can be intimidating for many different reason. Often with these careers, there is a lot of technical jargon being thrown around. For example, in the Forensic Science field, dense words like electrophoresis, gas chromatography and lividity are frequently used. Don't let this turn you away, it's all just a matter of learning what these things mean. You won't be bombarded with it all at once, and it won't be nearly as intimidating as you're anticipating it to be.

A lot of STEM jobs are comprised mostly of men. For the women out there, don't let this stop you! Take it as a personal challenge, if you will. If you want to be a robotic engineer, do it! I was the first female to join my high school robotics team. It wasn't easy at first, but I earned the male student's respect, and soon other girls started to join. Don't be afraid to be the first to do something. Pave the way for other women to follow your footsteps into the world of STEM careers. 

STEM careers can be extremely rewarding, but they also require a lot of hard work. If you think a STEM career is right for you, go for it! There's a world of possibilities out there, and STEM careers are a great avenue to explore.

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