5 ways to keep it real during your STEM degree

RMIT University graduation
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How to graduate with real-world skills to land a 21st century job

The world is changing, and so are the careers you’ll be choosing from after graduation. Here are 5 ways to make sure you leave uni with practical skills and knowledge that will impress potential employers.

1. Keep up with the changing career landscape

uni study tips
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The good news is that STEM-related jobs are on the rise – and the possibilities are endless. For example, a Bachelor of Biomedical Science could lead to a career in genetic engineering, cancer research or DNA profiling. And a Bachelor of Environmental Science could see you working in roles ranging from consultancy, academia, government, mining or manufacturing.

“STEM can literally take you anywhere,” says Dr Samantha Grover, an environmental science lecturer at RMIT University, whose chemistry degree opened the door to research in the tropical peat swamps of Indonesia.

2. Seek out hands-on learning

Employers love candidates with real-world experience. Internships and work experience are a good way to meet potential employers, put book-learning into context and try out the careers on your wish list. You can read more tips for finding and applying for internships and work experience here.

There are also opportunities to give back to the global community through organisations including Engineers Without Borders. And don’t forget to look for a uni with hands-on learning facilities that complement the theory!

Sebastian Mollison, who graduated with an Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology – Electrical from RMIT University says hands-on learning opportunities were a key part of choosing what uni to go to.

“I chose RMIT because they have a more practical approach in their teaching. Rather than reading about a circuit, I get to actually build one. Or instead of reading about how you program or simulating on a computer, I actually get to write a code and then watch it make a machine work or a sequence run,” he says.

3. Connect with industry

RMIT EnGenius
The PickleBank Pioneers won the Environmental Engineering Prize, awarded to the best Environmental Engineering project, as judged by industry at EnGenius 2019. L to R: Amy Breger, Jake Panagiotidis, Mustafa Afzali, Alana Di Salvo, Jasmine Stefanac Image: RMIT

Knowing the right people can give you a leg-up to your dream career. Universities offer opportunities to mingle with potential employers through networking events, guest lecturers, and speakers from industry partners. For example, RMIT’s partnerships with companies such as Boeing, Siemens and CSIRO make sure courses such as the Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering teach the skills employers need.

4. Learn from experts

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Choosing a uni with lecturers and researchers at the cutting edge of STEM gives you the opportunity to learn from the best and gain understanding to navigate an uncertain future.

According to Associate Professor Kate Fox from RMIT’s School of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering, STEM careers are about striving to uncover clues to new insights.

“Understanding the world around us is at the core of what we do, which is why our jobs are so exciting and interesting,” says Kate, who has used diamonds to develop bionic eyes and orthopedics to help repair muscle and bone damage.

5. Join a club!


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University clubs are a chance to seek out like-minded people and follow your passions. You can expand your horizons by trying new things, grow your networks and industry connections and sharpen your interpersonal skills.

Clubs can also be a place for female students to connect with other women in fields such as information technology or engineering. They can also be good forums to seek out role models and mentors, and help promote the importance of gender equality.

For example RMIT’s FIRE (Females in RMIT Engineering) club was created to help women connect across different engineering disciplines and year levels. “As a co-founder of FIRE we created a club aimed at supporting women in education in networking in social and industry events,” says Eva Smolinska, a mechanical engineering grad from RMIT.

This article is brought to you in partnership with RMIT University. Applications are now open for Semester 1, 2021 – find your course today.

Nadine Cranenburgh

Author: Nadine Cranenburgh

Nadine is an electrical and environmental engineer who works as a freelance writer and editor. She loves creating articles and content about exciting and complex technology.


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