By Gabriela Gutierrez
Careers in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are on the rise. Hundreds of resources are available for students to gain experiences and be successful in STEM careers.
“Seventy percent of the projected fastest growing occupations, so for the next 10 years, are going to be STEM fields,” STEM Workshop Host Elizabeth Reyna said.
Regardless of their level of education, Reyna said STEM workers earn more than those not in STEM careers.
“STEM workers earn 26% more than their non-STEM peers,” Reyna said.
However, those who have higher levels of education have more opportunities to earn higher wages than those who have less education under their belts.
Reyna said the three top websites for those who are interested in finding STEM related careers:
Reyna said whether students interested in STEM careers know what they want to do or not, there are also websites that can help. Sites like mynextmove.org and careeronestop.org, are where students can take quizzes to narrow down their career choices based on their interests.
Students can find experience-gaining opportunities through volunteering, internships and networking. Reyna said there are three resources for students to find internship opportunities:
Reyna said recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals may run into problems if they do not qualify for certain internships, but they can still take advantage of volunteer opportunities.
Students who are DACA recipients may have a harder time meeting internship requirements due to their legal status, but Reyna said volunteer positions are “another way to get the same kind of experience.” She said even though volunteer work is not paid, students can benefit from the connections they make, sometimes with the universities they wish to transfer to.
The NSF or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration may have more internship opportunities available because they have more locations, Reyna said. She said internships in STEM careers will not be paid, but gaining experience is essential to a student’s success in a STEM career.
Students at East Los Angeles College can take advantage of existing clubs or can create their own club if the existing clubs do not satisfy their needs.
Reyna said clubs are a great way to gain experience because joining clubs related to students’ fields of interest shows they are interested in the subject beyond the classroom.
“I always tell students, ‘If you do not see a club that you are interested in you are always welcome to start your own and take leadership positions within these clubs,’” Reyna said.
She said it is important to be active in a club by working to become board members or by making contributions as much as possible, rather than being inactive members.
The STEM Workshop host said soft skills and hard skills are both equally important in STEM careers.
“Hard skills are skills you can teach. You can teach someone about computer programming or data analysis. Soft skills are [related to] personality traits,” Reyna said.
She said skills considered soft skills are leadership skills, communication skills and teamwork skills.
Reyna also emphasized the importance of networking and connecting with others in STEM careers. She said students can also connect with college instructors.
She said networking is a big part of gaining more career opportunities. She said students can network by taking advantage of their instructor’s office hours, attending career fairs, conducting or attending informational interviews with people already in a STEM field and by shadowing people with STEM careers.