2 answers

How do you make the most of your STEM college education to succeed in your career? What elements that helps you establish yourself in a work/research environment? Any important set of skills, experiences, courses ...?

Asked New Haven, Connecticut

2 answers

Ani’s Answer

Join study groups with like-minded people. Attend classes regularly and get into the habit of taking detailed notes during classes when the professors speak. Note taking is a good skill that can come handy at any point in life, be it your academic stint or your professional career. Work on all your assignments by yourself and only consult other students/TAs/professor only after you have given your best effort. Make Google and YouTube your best friends; understanding the concept is very important; also developing the ability to explain the concept confidently and in layman's language to another person is even more important. Be part of organizations or committees that are relevant for your STEM field. For example, if your major is Mechanical Engineering, you should be part of the Mechanical Engineers Association, Sales Engineering Club, etc. Be dedicated to these clubs and try to get into leadership roles in these committees. Networking is very important; try to network with as many people as possible, even though they are from a different major, try to get a broad overview of what their major is like. Work on improving your soft skills: presentation skills, communication skills, etc. Talking is important, but listening is even more important. Listen first, talk next.


Then, focus on getting into a good summer internship program and work diligently throughout your internship by learning and networking as much as possible. If you do well here, you have successfully taken the first step towards your professional career, who knows, they might offer you a full-time job at their company already.

Ken’s Answer

Updated Cleveland, Ohio

Getting to know yourself and how your personality traits relate to people involved in various career opportunities is very important in your decision making process. During my many years in Human Resources and College Recruiting, I ran across too many students who had skipped this very important step and ended up in a job situation which for which they were not well suited. Selecting a career area is like buying a pair of shoes. First you have to be properly fitted for the correct size, and then you need to try on and walk in the various shoe options to determine which is fits the best and is most comfortable for you to wear. Following are some important steps which I developed during my career which have been helpful to many .

Ken recommends the following next steps:

  • Getting to know yourself and how your personality traits relate to people involved in various career opportunities is very important in your decision making process. During my many years in Human Resources and College Recruiting, I ran across too many students who had skipped this very important step and ended up in a job situation which for which they were not well suited. Selecting a career area is like buying a pair of shoes. First you have to be properly fitted for the correct size, and then you need to try on and walk in the various shoe options to determine which is fits the best and is most comfortable for you to wear. Following are some important steps which I developed during my career which have been helpful to many .
  • Next, when you have the results of the testing, talk to the person at your high school and college who tracks and works with graduates to arrange to talk to, visit, and possibly shadow people doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can get know what they are doing and how they got there. Here are some tips: ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
  • Locate and attend meetings of professional associations to which people who are doing what you think that you want to do belong, so that you can get their advice. These associations may offer or know of intern, coop, shadowing, and scholarship opportunities. These associations are the means whereby the professionals keep abreast of their career area following college and advance in their career. Here are some tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ##
  • It is very important to express your appreciation to those who help you along the way to be able to continue to receive helpful information and to create important networking contacts along the way. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-tips-for-writing-a-thank-you-note-thatll-make-you-look-like-the-best-candidate-alive?bsft_eid=7e230cba-a92f-4ec7-8ca3-2f50c8fc9c3c&bsft_pid=d08b95c2-bc8f-4eae-8618-d0826841a284&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20171020&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20171020&bsft_clkid=edfe52ae-9e40-4d90-8e6a-e0bb76116570&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=214115cb-cca2-4aec-aa86-92a31d371185&bsft_pp=2 ##
  • Here are some very interesting and important sites to visit that will give you more of an insight regarding the vast areas of engineering: ## https://www.engineergirl.org/ ## ## http://www.futureengineers.org/ ## ## https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43zVcmTJSKM ## ## http://stemtosteam.org/ ## ## https://www.asme.org/career-education/articles/undergraduate-students/engineering-still-needs-more-women ##