Studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) sets you up to attack a great variety of problems.
The next big ideas are likely being hammered out a student union cafe rather than in a boardroom.
Just as Snapchat, Facebook and Google started as student projects, so too could your contribution to the world – through studying STEM via a science or engineering degree.
Science and engineering degrees mean business
What links everyone in science and engineering is an inquisitive nature.
“If you find yourself fascinated by the cool science and engineering you see in the media, you’ll enjoy turning your interest into skills,” says Jeff Shimeta, senior lecturer in the School of Science at RMIT University.
The flexibility of STEM study
You could learn anything studying STEM: from advanced mathematics to using complex lab equipment or taking an engine apart.
Plus, a science or engineering degree offers a raft of transferable skills applicable to almost any career.
“All scientists and engineers learn how to analyse data, understand it and present it effectively,” says Jeff.
Senior lecturer Will J Grant from the Australian National University agrees. “You’ll pick up skills studying STEM – like high-level problem solving and critical analysis.”
A strong starting toolkit
About 75% of the fastest growing occupations require STEM skills, according to a report by the Australian Industry Group.
“STEM grads have a strong starting toolkit for joining the workforce,” says Executive Dean John Beynon, from the Faculty of Engineering, Computer & Mathematical Sciences at the University of Adelaide.
A survey for the Office of the Chief Scientist of Australia found that, even if a job doesn’t directly need STEM skills, more than 82% of employers would value experience studying STEM in an applicant.
“STEM skills set you up to attack a great variety of problems,” says Will.
Preparing for the jobs of tomorrow
Being able to solve a range of problems will be crucial in the future workforce, as many of the careers of tomorrow don’t exist today.
Given that almost half of employers are expecting they will need a growing number of STEM-skilled workers over the next five years, having the agility to be able to switch careers, grasp new opportunities or even start a business will stand you in good stead.
So do you need to know what career you want to go into before starting your degree studying STEM?
“Not in today’s world,” says Jeff. “Start uni with an open mind, discover new passions and pursue opportunities as they arise.”
– Ben Skuse
Author: Ben Skuse
Ben Skuse is a UK-based former mathematician turned professional science writer, who has written for the Careers with STEM magazines for over 5 years. You can follow him on Twitter @BenSkuseSciComm.