By: Victoria King and Asal Mohammadi
The universe is ever-changing: New technological advancements are made every day and human understanding of the world continues to develop and take shape. Taking a major role, even to the point of leading the world into the future, are the growing number of STEM majors entering various fields and careers. Through their education and experiences, people working in STEM fields learn important skills such as adaptability to circumstances, critical thinking, and application of skills in a multitude of ways. Most importantly, STEM careers encourage creative approaches to problems in order to make new innovations and ideas. However, entering STEM fields requires passion and interest as the field encourages growth and continuing education. The Harvard Graduate School of Education even states that there is a shortage of STEM skills due to rapid developments in the field. While challenging, it is notions such as this that encourage adaptability in STEM fields. Afshin Hatami, professor of building construction science at Mississippi State University says, “It's always interesting to see how each student adapts to a problem, they are the future,” continuing, “everything is and will be based on technology.”
Selen Alper, an engineering program manager in hardware at Apple, conveyed the financial benefits in joining the STEM field. She stated that “the starting salary is high right out of school…” and emphasized the job security. STEM is a very demanding and necessary field in need of people to fulfill roles. With the expansion of technology, the current job availability allows for finding positions easily. It’s estimated that nearly 3.5 million STEM jobs need to be staffed by 2025. With a great payout, however, comes the need to adapt and learn as time progresses. Due to this, it is important to nurture early interest and passion for STEM fields as they can become worthy, life-long assets.
The fluidity of STEM is very apparent as basic skills translate well to other areas. Lieutenant Commander Caroline Johnson, the author of Jet Girl and one of the only 1.7% of women flying as Navy F/A-18s, highlighted the importance of STEM in learning transferable skills. When she started off in Naval Aviation, she was not building the aircrafts, however she still employed STEM skills to be successful in her career. The problem-solving, aerodynamics, and math she learned transferred to her flying jets. The cross-marketability of STEM allows for an easy transfer to other career choices and all lessons learned are valuable in day-to-day life.
STEM careers promote facing adversity both in the field and in personal lives. Dr. Patel, the Poway Unified Board of Education and clerk of the board, promoted joining the STEM field. She illustrated the experiences gained by putting oneself outside of one’s comfort zone. From joining STEM, one will not only grow as a technician but as a person. As a scientist herself, she stated that the “setbacks faced in STEM are powerful tools for growth.” She addressed the important life skills as a scientist are to think, look, and reset.
Jacey Korth, a current senior at University of Nebraska-Lincoln says that, “If you have a genuine interest in STEM subjects, a career in STEM fields is super rewarding because you get to use your knowledge in real-life situations.” Since a young age, Jacey has had a fascination with the heart and cardiovascular system. After university, she hopes to become a perfusionist, operating the heart-lung machine during surgery.
Pursuing a STEM career does not necessarily mean that technical skills are most valuable. Le Louis, the systems engineer for Raytheon Intelligence and Space, emphasized the importance of not only science skills, but business skills. She elaborated that “all engineering fields need business people and that’s where communications and writing come in…there’s careers such as technical program management, market analysis, and patent lawyer where outstanding research and analytical skills are needed…” Communication is crucial when explaining, clarifying, and simplifying complex technical information. With STEM, all areas of passions are allowed to be pursued to a wide range of possibilities. In STEM, there is a role for everyone, and its accessibility, diversity, and inclusion are special.