Wednesday, January 27, 2010

STEM careers, how do we appeal to our youth?

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers are failing to attract today's youth.  Why? This concern is briefly explored in the January 27, 2010 Herman Trend Alert, STEM Grads and Competitiveness, which says that,

"our youth (seem) to revere the accomplishments of sports celebrities and rock stars, while our scientific geniuses (go) virtually unrecognized. More recently, United States President Barack Obama at his Whitehouse summit for youth echoed Kamen's words, himself promoting the study of the STEM topics as a matter of competitiveness." 
Competitiveness, eh?  So STEM careers have to compete for the admiration of our youth against Kobe and Beyoncé??  Oh boy, that is a tough battle.  So, I prose two questions:
1. To STEM professionals, what can we do to get our young people interested in STEM careers?
2. To young people, what can STEM professionals do to get you interested in STEM careers?
I am going to take a stab at Question #1 myself. I know from personal experience that young people do not exactly view STEM careers as "cool," UNTIL they learn more about what STEM professionals do either through presentations or hands-on activities. So, I believe that exposure is the key.  Unfortunately, young women and minorities are less likely to be exposed to STEM careers.  I was not exposed to careers in STEM until I was a junior in high school through an outreach program that allowed me to shadow a clinical lab researcher at a local hospital.  Until that experience, I did not know any scientists or what their jobs entailed.  This experience greatly influenced my current career path as a biomedical researcher.  From experiences like this Bottom line: Exposure MUST happen sooner.

Want to learn about STEM careers? Then check out these links below!

Browse Occupations Find details like wages, education requirements, and job demand. Create an Occupation Profile by selecting “Explore Careers” and then “Browse” under “Occupations.” 
O*NET’s STEM Occupations View the full list of STEM occupations. Select a job title to learn more.  
Career Voyages Explore career options and education requirements in emerging, high-growth industries and in-demand occupations. 
What Do You Like? Learn how your interests and favorite school subjects match careers. This Web site can help you make informed decisions about careers, education, and training.
Links courtesy of CareerOneStop.

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