Chapter 3: Getting to Know STEM
Why Choose a STEM Major?
The Top 10 Reasons to Choose a STEM Major:
For some interesting resources, look at some of the links below:
- Impact on Society
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics play a major role in our everyday life. Most likely, you are reading this website on a computer or a device with Internet. You probably talk on a telephone or watch TV almost every day. Driving in a car under a bridge is another common occurrence. STEM is part of everything we do! Being a part of developing and utilizing these tools is exciting and allows you to truly make a positive difference in the world.
The world of STEM is constantly changing – breakthroughs are happening right this minute. With this many transformations occurring, the work could never be dull. “Do what you love. When you love your work, you become the best worker in the world” – Uri Geller. STEM offers the chance to find a career choice in something that you will enjoy doing every day of your life.
- Flexibility and Freedom
As STEM is such a broad field, there is the freedom of many specializations within each discipline. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the potential careers held by someone in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It is impossible to predict what will happen next; therefore, no two days will be exactly the same. Variety is the spice of life, and STEM allows you to choose your own adventure.
If you enjoy doing puzzles, figuring out how an object works, understanding the wonders of the human body, or creating new applications for world use, then a major in STEM may be just the right major for you. In the ever-changing world of STEM, no two days will be exactly the same. Being able to adapt to a new situation is part of the challenge that many students enjoy. Another hurdle many students benefit from is having an idea and trying to make it a reality. You will be encouraged to think “outside the box.” Critical thinking and reasoning skills come into play during everyday life, as does the ability to work individually and collaboratively. Proficiency in these skills, among many others, is learned from a STEM major.
Having a major in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics can not only enhance your college experience, but can lead to many exciting opportunities in life. The majors in STEM are often times referred to as the 'Swiss Army Knife' majors because of all the skills you acquire while studying them. Another benefit that is unique to STEM majors is the various options you have after finishing your undergraduate degree: attend graduate school, attend professional school, work in a laboratory, do research, become a teacher, work for the government, become a technical writer or science editor, or work as a legal analyst, lobbyist, sector analyst, among many other careers.
- Self and Career Satisfaction
“I feel sorry for the person who can't get genuinely excited about his/her work. Not only will he/she never be satisfied, but he/she will never achieve anything worthwhile” – Walter Chrysler. Going to class and work every day should not be dreaded. Yes, there are going to be days when you may not want to get out of bed in the morning, or you want to skip class, but for the majority of the time, you should look forward to learning and going to class. The Top 10 Careers for Happy Workers found that some of the most satisfying careers are in STEM: physical therapists, veterinary technicians, and engineers are among those listed. Even if the major subject does not come naturally to you, but you love learning about it, then it may still be the perfect major for you in the long run because you will always be excited about it.
If you want to see how your desired profession measures up in job satisfaction, check out JobsRated.com to see the Top 200 most satisfying jobs based on stress, work environments, physical demands, income, and outlook. 15 of the top 20 are from a branch of STEM, with the top five being actuary, software engineer, computer systems analyst, biologist, and historian.
Career Cast. (2010). Jobs Rated.com: A Ranking of 200 Jobs From Best to Worst. Retrieved from http://www.careercast.com/jobs/content/top-200-jobs-2010-jobs-rated.
Having a major in one of the STEM fields can bring about opportunities and experiences that other majors might not be able to offer you. Recently, there was an article released by the Wall Street Journal entitled, “The Calculus behind Buying Apple’s iPhone 3G S”. Knowledge in STEM can help you in everyday life in many different ways, from which cell phone to purchase to designing a website. Also, majoring in a STEM field can actually give you a leg up on the college experience. Studying science, technology, engineering, or math will not be the simplest task you have ever done, but it will teach you a large set of skills right away that might take other majors years to master: time management, organization, motivation, effective note-taking, and proper report writing.
Motivation is required in order to do anything, but that power can only come from within you. Goals can typically provide a direction for your motivation and help bring you success in a STEM major. It is important to have an end in sight. Right now, one of the large movements in the United States is toward a “green economy”. If this is something you want in the world, then consider a major/career in STEM. Motivation can come in many forms, such as the desire to invent something to help a family member manage a chronic illness, to find life on a distant planet, or to create the world’s largest building. In order to attain these goals, you must find the motivation inside yourself.
For more information on a “green economy”, then check out this article, Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World.
- Geographic Mobility
Sometimes students in STEM are concerned about studying abroad during undergraduate studies because they think they will get behind in their classes. This is not the case at many schools. Actually, there is a program called the Trans-Atlantic Science Student Exchange Program (TASSEP). One of the benefits of a major/career in STEM is that “even with different teaching styles, science is just science no matter where you go,” says Matthew Van Wingerden, a student at the University of Washington. For this reason, many people enjoy the benefit of being able to travel and still speak the language of STEM.
STEM careers do encompass a lot of the fastest growing occupations, along with many of the highest paying occupations. For more information on these statistics and the career that you are interested in, go to Career One Stop. Also, keep in mind that it is not always about the money. Charles Schwab once said, “The man who does not work for the love of work but only for money is not likely to make money nor find much fun in life.” Remember his words as you go about pursuing your education and potential career. Do what you love, and love what you do.
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