(or, what can I do in STEM?)
Since this blog is STEMpowerment.com, let’s start getting into the nitty-gritty. If you found this website, you probably have at least a little bit of interest in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math. And if you’ve read this far, you may be wondering about specific career options in the field.
Here are four suggestions: 1) science, 2) technology, 3) engineering, and 4) math. Done.
Just kidding!! I wouldn’t do that to you!
The goal of this post is to introduce a number of broad career fields. This is the first in a multi-part series which will broadly introduce types of STEM careers, and then cover specific fields within math, science, and engineering. So, without further ado, here are 7 career options in STEM:
- Engineering: This one is pretty obvious – it’s in STEM, right? To me, engineering is problem solving. Engineering is designing, building, testing, and problem solving. It ranges from mechanical engineering, to electrical and computer engineering and computer science, to industrial and manufacturing engineering, and even aerospace engineering and materials science. I would also lump architecture into this group.
- Science: OK, so this one is obvious too – but I promise I’ll give you more than just the acronym for STEM in this list. There are a lot of careers which allow you to pursue science full time. This includes everything from traditional sciences like biology and chemistry, to meteorology zoology, ecology, geology, and astronomy.
- Medical: When I say medical, the first thing you probably think of is doctor, which is very common. However, there are a lot of other medical pathways you can consider as well, including nursing, physician assistant, physical therapy, pharmacy, optometry, nursing, and veterinary medicine. All of these are incredible careers. This would be a great option for you if you love STEM, and you also love interacting with people (or animals!)
- Business: You can go directly from a STEM education to business, or you can spend time doing a different job and then go in to business. STEMies are great at business because they are good at problem solving, they understand the processes involved in design, building, and testing, and STEMies are creative and hard-working. Harvard Business School loves accepting engineers into their Master of Business Administration (MBA) program because of all of those characteristics. Business careers include everything from accounting (lots of math!), to supply chain management and logistics, to program management, to entrepreneurship (can we call it STEMpreneurship?).
- Government: there are lots of STEM jobs through the government, ranging from the military, to the IRS (taxes, anyone?), to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the CIA.
- Teaching: This one is so important! One of the most important places to inspire others to pursue STEM is in the classroom. This can happen all the way from elementary school, to high school, to college. If you love math and / or science, and you love sharing your knowledge with others, you should definitely consider teaching!
- Unconventional: Everything so far on the list probably made sense, but what on Earth does ‘unconventional’ mean? There are lots of people in STEM who do unexpected things in their careers. Did you know The Big Bang Theory has a scientific consultant? How do I get a job like that? Others work for non-profit industries or do outreach work, or work as translators between the technical world and general audience. Examples are expert witnesses, who explain forensic evidence to juries, medical writers, and science writers.
Do you notice anything about this list? It covers almost everything you could ever possibly want to do. One of the cool things about STEM is that it is everywhere, and it is used for everything.
Let’s talk about a specific example. As theSTEMinista, you should all know something – I really like shoes. Not just dressy shoes, though. I have much love for a good pair of running shoes too! So, taking running shoes as our example, let’s think about the ways STEM might be used before those shoes ever get to our feet.
Now days, running companies are engineering shoes to do more and be more. They are designed and engineered to weigh less, provide more support, and last longer. That’s a feat of engineering in itself. One of the ways to provide all of those enhanced features is through engineered materials. Once there’s a design and materials, another team of STEMgeniuses has to figure out a way to manufacture the shoes, and test them out to make sure they’re everything they’re designed to be. Plus, there has to be a STEMteam coordinating the shipment of all the proper materials to get to the shoe factory at the correct time, and another TEAM coordinating where all the shoes get shipped after they’re made. And did you know there are even packaging engineers now, who can make sure the packaging is efficient and environmentally friendly. I’m pretty busy, and I have a specific favorite pair of shoes, so I sometimes buy my shoes online, which requires the expertise of all sorts of software and hardware STEM men and women. If I go to a store in person, a team of architects must have first designed the building. Once I finally get my paws on those new shoes, before I ever go on my first run, I check the weather to make sure I dress for the conditions. Can you believe all the brilliant people it takes just so we can lace up our running shoes? It’s absolutely incredible, and we’re only talking about shoes!
We can come up with a million other examples, for a million other products, which leads me to my great, big take-home message.
STEM is needed for any type of product in any type of industry – you can go anywhere with STEM!
That is why it is so critical for young people to pursue STEM educations, and to retain professionals in STEM careers. I am so excited to continue on this STEM journey with you, readers! STEM opens up so many doors and it is so exciting to share some of this information with you!
Keep an eye out on the Cool Jobs section of the website. In that section, I will be highlighting real people, in real STEM careers – together, we can find out more about the exciting world of STEM. When we look at specific individuals, what type of information about the individual and the career are you most interested in learning about? Leave me a note in the comments!