In the past, we have talked about STEM and what it means for fueling middle and high school students' passions. Today, we take a look at STEM exploration beyond this level, and how it works in the real world. For many, college is the beginning of the real world, and this is the time when students can build networks for their professional and adult lives. . Finding and developing your interests and passions is a challenge in and of itself, much less figuring out how best to pursue them. The real world comes with real challenges, and pursuing a STEM career is no exception!
There are plenty of positives in navigating real-world STEM. Students may find themselves engaging with a continually growing culture of STEM, whether this is through joining clubs and organizations with a focus on this, or simply by interacting with classmates that share passions similar to yours. This culture is a great way to develop your individual passions and find your niche, as well as to meet connections that will help you in your professional life. Many universities already have existing clubs where STEM fans can interact and take on projects. If your university doesn't, you may have the opportunity to start one yourself! Creating an ever-expanding STEM culture is an incredibly exciting and important opportunity for a young student in the real world. You can learn more about building STEM culture here.
While there are plenty of doors that will open, there are still obstacles and setbacks (welcome to the real world!) that you will experience. Basically, nobody is guaranteed a smooth ride, and things will never go exactly how you anticipate them. This may mean you don't get every single internship you want the first time around, or you may have to apply to jobs for a few months before you finally land one. This is normal, and you should not allow it to set you back or reconsider. Resiliency is an incredibly important skill for life in general, and remembering this as you build your STEM passion in college is key. There is a great article on the importance of resiliency in STEM college students here.
In Episode 24 of Let's Go To Space: BLUESKY Learning podcast, we get to hear from PhD student Sahadeo Ramjatan, who has spent years studying Aerospace Engineering at multiple institutions, including the University of Florida and the University of Minnesota. Along with hearing of his many accolades and research in his field of study, Sahadeo shared with us his experience as a STEM student, which at times, included some struggles. Sahadeo's determination and grit mentality helped him to persevere in his path to success. Dr. Ramjatan reminded us that it takes, time, patience, and resiliency to accomplish our goals, and he shares that many times he was able to make personal and professional strides by simply not giving up (sounds a little cliche, but is true!). He also mentioned the importance of opening yourself and your mind up to new cultures, ideas, and experiences, as these will broaden your worldview and perspective (Translation: find any way you can to study abroad or work with students from different cultures).
Sahadeo had many important points and good pieces of advice for those considering engineering as a career.-- and his episode is not the only one with great STEM advice. "Let's Go to Space: BLUESKY Learning" is part of the Aerospace and Innovation Academy, which offers lessons and provides unque STEM opportunities for students of varying ages. You can listen to our podcast on most platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Amazon, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can check out our vodcast versions on Youtube.