Posted in Career Corner

Advice I Wish My Younger Self Knew: STEM Edition

Happy New Year! This time last year I talked about taking action. 2014 was a very busy year and I’m excited to see where 2015 takes me. I have many ideas and things coming up this year. I’m excited. After reading the #BLACKandSTEM major tweets roll call last week I was inspired to write this post. It was nice to see STEM career diversity. It’s time to share what we know. Let’s help each other!

Advice I Wish My Younger Self Knew (STEM Edition):

1. Don’t let your major define you: There are so many majors out there. When you are fresh out of high school picking a major is overwhelming. My advice is to make a list of words that describe what you want to do. After spending time thinking and writing you will start to see a theme. Once you have some ideas talk to others in similar fields to see what the field is really about. Your goal is to graduate and finish strong with your STEM degree!

2. Get mentors early: Everyone should have at least one mentor. When I was younger I didn’t have many mentors around. My aunt (she is an electrical engineer) was my first STEM mentor. It’s good to have a STEM mentor because they give you the guidance you need to mature into a STEM-er. Since mentoring is a big topic I will talk more about it in a future post.

3. Find a creative way to share science: Last year I had my 1st blogiversary. Blogging is something I wanted to do for a long time and I decided it was time for me to just do it. I never knew that there was a blogging science community until I started blogging. If you like to write, start a blog. If you like to create visual content, start a YouTube channel. Social media is huge now and it’s time to see more science in social media!

4. Don’t be afraid to fail: I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Failure is a part of life. We fail, we make mistakes, we get better. When I was in high school I was the spotlight kid and then when I got to college everyone was a spotlight kid. It was easy to stand out in high school, but not in college. At times I felt overwhelmed and thought, “How can I compete?” It’s normal to feel this way. If you fail, get help. If you fail, again try again. The good thing is that failure will teach you a lesson and you can pass that lesson on to someone else. A STEM career is not easy, but you can do it!

5. Gain research experience early: Did you know that you can work in a research laboratory at 16? I know now, but I did not know this when I was 16. There are so many opportunities out there for young people interested in STEM. When I hear about all the great things BlackGirlsCode is doing I get excited. It’s nice to see young people learning about STEM early. If you want to become a researcher start research. If you want to teach become a teaching assistant. To be a STEM-er you have to take action. The time is now!

6. Find a group of peers that are STEM-ers like you: I found my group when I joined NSBE my junior year of high school. NSBE opened so many doors for me and it was good to have a group of people who knew exactly what I was going through. There are so many STEM organizations out there join. Check out SWE, SHPE, and SOT. When you join these organizations you are creating long-lasting friendships and a professional network.

7. Study Abroad: When I was in college I didn’t get the chance to study abroad. Looking back I wish I did. When I enter a PhD program in the near future I’m going to make sure I take advantage of any research abroad collaborations. I have friends that have traveled abroad and I can’t wait until I have the opportunity. If you want to study abroad do it!

These are just a few things that I wish I would have known when I was young STEM-er. I know that everything I have experienced is a blessing and I’m excited to take my blog to the next level. Here’s to 2015! What would like to see on my blog?

Let’s start a conversation in the comments about what you wish you would have known as a young STEM-er. I’m calling all my STEM-ers and would like to know what tips you have.

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5 thoughts on “Advice I Wish My Younger Self Knew: STEM Edition

  1. Gaining experience as early as possible is invaluable! Any time a young STEM major asks for my advice, #1 on the list is finding a professor whose work interests them and volunteering in their lab. Absolutely the best action I ever took in regards to my own career goals.

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