Science careers for the restless graduate
There’s a trove of opportunities awaiting science graduates, even if the treasure map can be tricky to follow at times.
BY NATHAN MIFSUD
You’ve finally left the lab, finished the final exams, and thrown your trencher cap in the air. The next step can be daunting. You know the broad sorts of science careers that flow from here: dive into further coursework, spend a stint in a PhD, or gun for a plum industry job. Perhaps a fast-moving consultancy will catch you, or you’ll leap into a lateral field – putting your analytical ability and soft skills to the test in a school, on a farm, or among the skyscrapers.
It’s also a legit option to pat yourself on the back, reclaim your old barista gig and chill for a while. But the same questions will return. Which path do I choose? And for what purpose?
Conventional wisdom dictates that we should follow our passion. That strikes a chord for some people, but it’s not always easy to pursue – particularly if you have a wide range of interests. And the lucky folks already in stellar science careers often followed a unique path to get there, taking incremental steps that only seem obvious in hindsight.
But within those winding routes, there is a blueprint for success. The key is to start taking your own faltering steps – even if you don’t yet have a specific goal in mind, or if you’re in a job that doesn’t quite align with your career aspirations… Continue reading
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Boarding the science careers bullet train
You have a huge advantage: a STEM degree. Few words are needed to characterise the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths for creating a healthy, equitable society – from renewable energy and medical innovation to housing solutions and digital infrastructure.
A range of roles are needed to tackle these issues: technical workers, researchers, industry leaders, analysts, start-up founders and policy advocates, to name a few.
What’s more, the Australian Industry Group has reported that we have significant skills shortages, especially in STEM areas. And women are in particular demand for science careers, as they currently make up only 29% of those with a university STEM qualification.
As a freshly minted graduate in this opportune environment, the focus shouldn’t be on what is the best path to choose, but rather how to pick among the wealth of potential science careers.
That’s a far less daunting question. To start with, you could try doing an internship, applying for a top graduate program, or taste-testing postgraduate options. Exploring such possibilities allows you to cultivate your interests, hone your strengths, and continue to learn.
Science careers that stir passion and drive are valuable. Shaping a career today requires a valuable skill-set to match, with agile and cross-disciplinary know-how. Concentrate on building momentum, keep looking for inspiration – and the right path might just choose you.
“The focus shouldn’t be on what is the best path to choose, but rather how to pick among the wealth of potential science careers.”
1. 75% of the fastest growing occupations require STEM skills (PwC)
2. Over 30% of Australian businesses struggle to recruit graduates with STEM qualifications (Office of the Chief Scientist)
3. 82% of employers consider STEM graduates valuable, even when their qualification isn’t a prerequisite of the role (Office of the Chief Scientist)
Author: Heather Catchpole
Heather co-founded Careers with STEM publisher Refraction Media. She loves storytelling, Asian food & dogs and has reported on science stories from live volcanoes and fossil digs