Top Tips for getting a job in STEM
The head of marketing at Milkround, a nationwide graduate career resource, has put together a list of advice for finding a career in the STEM fields.
STEM is a diverse set of industries. How can graduates and students ensure they are making the right career choice/taking the right career path?
"Only you can determine what the right career path is for you. Do plenty of research and assess whether you would be happy with the available roles, salaries, progressions, and so on. With all that information in hand, you should be able to make your decision."
What attributes do you need for a career in STEM?
"A genuine interest in your chosen STEM subject is, of course, key; if you enjoy your job you are more likely to be great at it. STEM roles often include problem-solving and plenty of creativity so if you enjoy a good challenge it could be the perfect career choice for you."
How important are 'soft skills' (i.e time management, good communication, teamwork) to STEM employers? Will they want evidence that candidates have these? What's the best way for graduates to acquire them?
"Soft skills are crucial to candidates in any industry, not just STEM. Employers have many ways of assessing candidates’ skill sets and you may not even realise they are doing it. Different interview questions and tasks are designed to show certain skills and will ensure that the employer knows you have the right skills for the job.
"You probably already have plenty of soft skills, particularly teamwork, interpersonal skills, and problem-solving, as you will naturally have been utilising them throughout your life. Make sure to think of a few situations where you have used a certain soft skill and have them prepared to relay at an interview."
Do you have any tips for presenting a written application in the best way to a STEM employer?
"Your application is most likely the very first impression a STEM employer will have of you – make sure it is a good one. Ensure it is relevant to the role you are applying for, outline the ways you would be a unique and valuable employee, and remember that there are no excuses for spelling errors or grammar mistakes."
What can graduates who are interested in STEM do to make themselves more employable?
"Make sure you tick all the boxes. Look at job adverts and specifications for the type of role you are hoping to secure and see whether you fit the profile. If you do, great! Now you need to stand out from the crowd of applicants. Extra-curricular activities during your time at university, such as joining a society, will help with this. If they do not strictly align with STEM, there is always a way to present them in a useful light anyway, for example to highlight the soft skills it allowed you to develop and how you can use them in your STEM role.
"Make the most of your time by getting work experience as this is very important to most employers. Again, if your temporary job does not appear to have much in common with the STEM industry, draw all the parallels you can and emphasise that you are a hard worker."
What general advice would you give to anyone considering a STEM career?
"The STEM sector is growing rapidly and offers plenty of exciting opportunities. There is a multitude of roles available and it shows no signs of diminishing, and graduate starting salaries tend to be excellent. It is also not all working in a lab or writing code, STEM jobs are cropping up in all industries and develop constantly. By being part of the STEM industry you are actively improving the world around you and influencing the future."