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A few months ago I was watching a beauty related video on YouTube and I came across this #DearME video. The #DearME Initiative is a global Initiative started by YouTube to celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8) to empower young girls everywhere. After watching a few #DearME videos I was inspired share my #DearME STEM College Student Edition. I believe it is important to reflect on the past to truly understand your journey. If you are a recent graduate or looking to update your myIDP tool write down the advice you would give your younger self. Think back to when you were a freshman in college. Here are the things I would tell my younger self – STEM College Student Edition:

#DearME: My Advice to My Younger Self – STEM College Student Edition:

1. It’s okay if you change your major: When you go to college you may have an idea about what major or career you want, but things can change. After taking a few courses you may want to explore different majors. Talk to your academic advisor and upperclassmen to see what other majors are out there. Remember your major doesn’t define you. Whether you want to become an engineer, scientist or work in public health there are many pathways to your career.

2. Don’t be afraid to be assertive: Ask questions, reach out to potential mentors and network. As a freshman this can be a bit scary, but give it a try. When you come out of your shell and start putting yourself out there people will notice. Plus you never know what opportunities you will find. If you are looking for some tips and tricks the book, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois Frankel is a good resource.

3. Explore the opportunities that STEM can take you early on: A STEM degree can take you anywhere. Sometimes thinking about different career paths can be a bit overwhelming as a STEM college student. Take time to talk to people and explore the opportunities at your university’s career center. Whether you want to study abroad, do research or get an internship seek opportunities. Even if you are a freshman you can start.

4. Remember your hard work will pay off: Being a STEM college student is a challenge, but all the obstacles you will face are worth it. Study-a-thons, hectic schedules and 4-hour chemistry labs may seem like a lot, but you will make it. Space out your course-load so that you can have a fun course in the mix of your STEM courses. The life of a STEM college student is about balance and you will learn it before you graduate. Remember success is great, but you don’t have to break yourself getting there. There will be ups and downs, but you will get through it.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help before it is too late: If you are having a difficult time in one of your STEM courses ask for help. Find a group of peers in your major. Groups like NSBE, SWE, SHPE and SOT are great places to start. Plus if you join these groups you can make new friends in your major and have a strong support system to help you through your college career.

6. Enjoy your college experience: Even though you may have a busy life as a STEM college student make sure you have fun. Go to social events, join groups or play sports. College is not only about getting your education, but it is also about having fun. When you graduate college you want to look back and say you were able to earn your degree and enjoy your college experience.

7. Don’t let negativity get you down: There will be people who believe that women or minorities in STEM cannot be successful. Don’t let their negativity get in your way of moving forward in your STEM career. Find a group of people who get you and can help you through your tough times.

To learn more check out part I of my advice to my younger STEM self.

What would you tell your younger self as a STEM College Student? #DearME

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