Want to Work in STEM? Here Are 6 Tips to Help Kick-Start Your Career

Posted June 26, 2022 by in Career

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields are fast-paced and constantly changing. There is also a lot of pressure on STEM workers right now. With the United States facing a shortage of STEM professionals that could get even worse in the next couple of decades, men and women who love math and sciences need to think about their career paths sooner rather than later. If you’re thinking about working in STEM as your future career path, it’s a great idea! These fields are not only growing but also offer plenty of opportunities for advancement and high pay with job security. And if you’re reading this article, we’re sure you have what it takes to be a successful STEM worker. Keep reading to know how you can start your career in STEM fields today.

Female scientist in yellow goggles looking at a specimen through a microscope

1. Decide on a STEM field you’re interested in

This may sound obvious, but it’s important to select a STEM field you truly love. You may have an affinity for statistics or machine learning, but that doesn’t mean you should pursue a career in data science. Are you more interested in the applied sciences or the theoretical side of STEM fields? Understanding what you love about STEM will make it easier to select your specific field of study. Also, you should consider whether you’re interested in a STEM field with more job openings or one that has a greater need for people with your specific set of skills. For example, the demand for computer programmers is growing, but the need for statisticians is not as great.

2. Take advanced math and computer courses

While it may feel like you’re studying for your future demise by taking more advanced math and computer courses, they will make you a more qualified candidate in a variety of industries and positions. You can also use your knowledge to tutor fellow students who are struggling while gaining valuable experience in your field. Not only will an advanced degree make you a more attractive candidate, but it will also show potential employers that you are committed to your field of study. In fact, many employers will take your extra math and computer courses into account when determining your future salary.

3. Network and shadow professionals

Creating a network of professionals in your field is the best way to obtain the inside scoop on what industry employers are looking for and which ones offer great work environments. Networking allows you to let your fellow industry professionals know about your specific set of skills and ask them about their experiences in both the workplace and in their careers overall. Shadowing professionals in your specific field of interest can also help you decide if this is the career path for you. Shadowing professionals can give you a feel for the daily grind of their jobs, the qualifications you need, and how you can get there.

4. Look for internships while still in school

One of the best ways to get a leg up in your desired field while still in school is to look for an internship. This will give you valuable work experience, show employers that you are serious about your pursuit of a career in the field, and allow you to make valuable connections with industry professionals. Keep in mind that most STEM-related internships will require you to graduate with a bachelor’s degree before you can apply. You can also try to find part-time work in your desired field, which will allow you to make some money while also gaining valuable experience in your field.

5. Join an alumni group in your area (or start your own)

Colleges and universities often have alumni groups, but you can also find an alumni group in your specific city. Joining an alumni group in your area will allow you to network with other people who have experience in your desired field. This can help you find mentors, discover new job opportunities, and even get a recommendation for your next job. Many alumni groups will also have conferences that you can attend to meet new people in your specific field and learn even more about the industry. If there isn’t an alumni group in your area, you can also consider starting your own with a few friends.

6. Don’t be afraid to switch fields or jobs

While the best way to advance in your career is to remain focused on one field, there will be times when you need to switch gears and try something new. If you are unhappy in your position, take the time to find a new job in your desired field. Depending on how long you’ve been working in your current position, you may also consider restarting your career in a different field. This will not only allow you to gain new skills but will also allow you to try something new and exciting. You may have been keen on a career in marine biology, but environmental scientist jobs can be just as rewarding, and you may find that you are happier in a job that you never even considered before.

Are you interested in STEM as a career path? Let us know in the comments below!