What made you decide that a career in STEM was a good fit for you? What (or who) in particular influenced this?
I'm a female who has been in STEM since kindergarten. I say that because I was never interested in the soft sciences or the arts in any way, I was pulling things apart as long as I can remember to see if I could figure out how they were made or how they worked. As a female I was lucky enough to have parents who (at least somewhat) encouraged that, instead of dolls and make up my birthday and Christmas presents were science kits, computers and microscopes. There were limits to their encouragement, usually when I started pulling apart things I wasn't supposed to.
I was also lucky enough to get the best group of science teachers through high school, Math, Biology, Chemistry and Physics all believed that anyone who wanted to learn science should be encouraged, and didn't make anything at all of the fact I was female. I majored in Chemistry, got a job as a tech in an R&D lab for a few years, then discovered computers which I seemed to have a talent for which led to a career change. I love my job now as tech support/training since I get the people aspect and the STEM aspect in one career.
My advice, play to your strengths and figure out what you love about each subject, then find a career that fits with that. If you love the subject it tends to be easier to study it, which makes it easier to work in the field afterwards. The worst advice I ever got was from my career counsellor at high school who told me I'd be cutting off options if I went for all sciences, and encouraged me to take an arts subject to "round out my portfolio". I hated the subject, barely passed it, and it did affect my career options afterwards but from my point of view it was a negative effect not positive. I've stayed in STEM, and while I've turned a little more people oriented over the last few years, my passion is still getting people to see the beauty in the subjects that make up STEM - they are so versatile and so informative, plus they impact every aspects of your life whether you know it or not.
This is a very tough question to answer. First of all you should have a goal in your mind what you would like to become? Most people usually have a goal in their mind, like they would like to become an electrical engineer, or computer scientist or engineer, doctor, aeronautical engineer, etc. Based on that decision and pickup a field. You should have an interest in a specific field. Having an interest in becoming something or landing in a specific career will help you boost energy and you will most probably put lot of efforts and hardwork during your coursework. I would also reiterate that some of the coursework in such fields are difficult or challenging. But your goals and interest will help your tackle such hurdles.
In my opinion it does not matter if a field is STEM or not. If you like what you want to become most probably you will be successful. Do not force yourself to just be in a STEM field, instead look for what you want to become.
I would also suggest you to also go through some websites like salary.com and have atleast an approximate idea about how much companies usually pay in a specific sector.
I had a very inspiring Biology Professor at the end of my College Sophomore year. That influenced me to major in Biology. During my Graduate years, I got interested in water resources. This led me to a career in Civil Engineering as a Hydrologist.
I am from a small town in East Texas (pop. ~200...yes, I said two hundred...lol). A few things piqued my interest in the technical fields. Building models (planes, cars, trucks, et al), working on a farm and fixin' stuff, erector sets and other various kits from Radio Shack. I liked working with my hands but I really was curious about what made a thing better than another thing. I found that the more I understood the specifications, the better I could then create my own things. Unbeknownst to me, I was engaging in process of research and development on a very basic level. I was curious about how things worked.
I would say the person who really had an impact on my was my neighbor...a retired Ag teacher. Once I was helping him weld and bolt-together and cut and saw materials. It was like a huge modeling kit. After days of this work, we were done....and I asked "So what are we going to do now?". His response was "...well, we're going to drive my tractor on this trailer we've been building and take it to the farm...". We made something at a large scale that had a real world use and benefit. I was hooked after that. Stay curious Maria and enjoy problem solving and your world will open up beautifully in STEM.
Since I was kid, I only knew I loved computer, maths and solve problems. I could handle arts and the other subjects but I didn't love them. One year before graduating at high school, I started looking for advices at the newspapers and I decided for go to Computer Science but at that time were not many paths I was only sure that I should work in something related with techonology. Now there is a big varity of paths you can take like Developer, Games, Nanotechnology, Telecom, AI, etc.