How STEM subjects shape great careers
It’s no secret science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) subjects are the driving force behind innovation, progress, and economic growth and lead to diverse careers. Embracing STEM can open doors to a plethora of exciting career paths.
The demand for skilled professionals in STEM-related industries is increasing, with opportunities spanning medicine, engineering, data science, arts, environmental sciences, and much more.
Combine STEM and passion
Choosing the right subjects can be daunting, but it’s essential to embrace diversity. Alexandra Clarke, education content specialist at CSIRO, shares her high school experience of balancing extension maths and chemistry with music and German.
She emphasises that subject diversity keeps learning interesting and exercises different parts of the brain and creativity. Alexandra advises students to select subjects they are genuinely interested in, as passion fuels learning and success.
Maria Barrett, CSIRO’s education relationship manager, urges students not to stress over making incorrect subject choices. There are countless pathways to achieve career goals after leaving school. The key is to follow your interests and stay open to exploration.
STEM subject selection is not limited to those pursuing traditional tertiary pathways. Skills and theoretical practices from subjects like business, economics, chemistry, and physics can be applied across various fields, even ones like hairdressing, make up design, sports and theatre.
STEM education equips students with the necessary tools to succeed in a range of careers.
Georgios, a student and Generation STEM participant, says taking part in a site visit at Western Sydney International Airport helped him realise that STEM is everywhere.
“It was inspiring to see how you can take something you enjoy as a hobby like drone flying and make it a career,” he says.
Work experience is one way to explore STEM skills
Several programs are bridging the gap between education and employment by exposing students to job market needs, helping them make informed career choices. Also, the work experience you do at school, TAFE or university does need not be exactly what you will end up doing in the future, but it gives you a taste of the industry.
Nick Whyte, a front-end engineer at Canva, and Generation STEM mentor became interested in software development through a high school friend who built a website. Exposure to real-world experiences like this can shape career decisions. Nick highlights the importance of such opportunities in guiding his career path.
Internships also provide a vital route for students to gain industry experience. Emma Kaelin, a Macquarie University student, completed a 12-week internship with Generation STEM Links and learned native coding for Apple and Android, successfully launching six apps for TDMN. She shares the confidence and knowledge gained through internships and encourages students to take advantage of these opportunities.
Another former Generation STEM Links intern, Jasmin Bradshaw, discovered her passion for STEM subjects in high school. Practical STEM classes in Years 9 and 10 led her to study engineering.
Now studying at the University of Newcastle, she aspires to become a medical device engineer. Her story highlights the role of early exposure in shaping career choices.
Many jobs have changed over the years. Some are disappearing while new careers are growing (virtual tourism and ethical AI). Some of the fastest growing careers include aged care, health and technology sectors.
Studies have estimated that Australians will make 17 changes in employers across five different careers. So, remember, no decision that you make today will lock you in to only one option for your future.
CSIRO offers programs such as Generation STEM, STEM Together, STEM Professionals in Schools, and Young Indigenous Women’s STEM Academy, which aim to inspire students, create opportunities and increase participation in STEM.
If you’re an educator and would like more information about subject selection, join The Girls in STEM Toolkit (The GiST) on Monday 11 September as Professor Louise Archer from University College in London shares why young people might see science as being ‘for me’, or not, and how schools can adjust practices to attract and retain students in science and science-related subjects.
My Future has resources including quizzes that will help learn more about what might suit you. You can also match up school subjects with career pathways.