Working in STEM

It’s a field that’s been much in the news recently, especially with regard to some of the challenges women and people of colour can face when trying to enter the field, and compete on an even playing field within it.

But what is STEM? How can you enter the field? And do you want to?

What is STEM?

STEM is technical acronym used in education and recruitment, and increasingly in the mainstream press and it stands for the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. A career in STEM requires exhaustive qualifications, an analytical mind and a enthusiastic attitude towards problem solving.

If you’ve always been a garage tinkerer, a bedroom coder, or a kitchen experimenter then, as well as being a source of fascinated horror to your parents, you might have the perfect mindset to work in this field.

Where are STEM Skills Employed?

The picture you’ve probably conjured up in your mind is of a NASA control room, or gleaming laboratory, and while both of these settings have a hefty use for STEM skills, many (or indeed most) organisations can benefit from these skillset. Providing Health Science Services for the NHS doesn’t just use your skills it’s a vital role in society, while using coding skills to create apps or digital security products is useful for almost any business!

Training to Work in STEM

As the acronym has its background in education, it’s relatively easy to apply your ambitions to work in the field to your subject choices.

It’s important to be specific however, STEM, overall is a classification used by civil servants to assess how many people are working or training to work in technical roles. It’s not, in itself a description of a career. So, don’t think about how level descriptors, think about jobs: do you see yourself as a Doctor? Do you dream of building the next generation of videogame worlds? Or do you want to plan and build some of the huge, heroic structures of tomorrow, from bridges to skyscrapers?

Getting specific about where and how you want to work lets you plot a course through the education, through work experience and internships and give you the best chance of ending up at your target. As we said at the top, it can be especially challenging if you don’t fit the usual image of a scientist, programmer or engineer, with the field as a whole oddly resistant to entering the 21st century culturally even as it dreams of the advances of the 22nd, so make sure you’re build tight networks of mutual support, to compensate for the ‘old boys club’ you may not get to benefit from.