I count myself to be extremely fortunate with the exposure I got to STEM careers as a kid. Even at a very young age I saw what a day to day work of an engineer involves as my father was a civil engineer.
I loved the experience I got when I went on site visits with him, looked at project designs and asked him silly questions about it. My father sowed the interest in me I should say and he would patiently answer my questions with real world examples.
Similarly, it was love at first sight when I visited my mother’s office and got my first ever glimpse at a computer, there was no turning back after that.
Now I am a computer science engineer and hold a master’s degree in management. I have quite a diverse experience employed in the information technology sector, working for organisations of different sizes. Often, I have been the only female in meetings or trainings. This fuelled a passion in me to inspire more women to take up STEM-related careers. Being a female STEM practitioner, I think it is indeed my duty to do so.
Often students have a preconceived notion about STEM subjects. I strongly believe and advocate that a job in STEM simply requires problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, as well as some creativity.
STEM careers involve a variety of fields from curbing environment pollution to using technology to protect your home and getting this idea across to the students is very important. There is an overall lack of familiarity to the infinite opportunities available in STEM careers. I feel young people, girls especially, lack this exposure while choosing their GCSE or A level options.
All these reasons are a key motivation behind me registering to be a STEM Ambassador. I wanted to share my experiences and my career journey with children to help them realise anyone can have a STEM career.
Before I signed up to be a STEM Ambassador, I thought about it a million times. I was not sure what exactly I needed to do nor was I sure if I could even be a “good” mentor.
However, the more I read about it and spoke to other STEM Ambassadors, I was even more keen to be one myself. One of my friends spoke highly about the sense of satisfaction and purpose it delivered, that is when I was 100% sure that I wanted to register.
My first experience
My first activity was part of a long-term mentoring programme, helping students over a period of 10 weeks while they worked on the Go4Set project. To be honest, I was extremely nervous about it. However, the enthusiasm and eagerness of the students quickly turned it around for me.
We brainstormed ideas and I helped them interpret the problem they were trying to address. After the event, I was really pumped to do more and signed up for more such activities. I am going to be talking to some students about my career journey and have signed up to do a speed mentoring activity as well.
For people who are wondering where to start
It’s easy to get involved and inspire someone into STEM, you can just register to be a STEM Ambassador like I did. There are a range of activities that you can choose to be a part of. You can volunteer to talk at a school event, or by just share your career experiences.
You don’t have to worry about being good at it before signing up, there are plenty of resources for a STEM Ambassador to use, right from training materials to activity sheets and presentations that are available for you to learn from as well as use during volunteering.
If you are a STEM practitioner who does not have a role model and is looking for inspiration, why don’t you inspire others? Tell your story - that is an equally valuable thing to do to inspire young people. If you manage to inspire at least one girl to take up STEM, one child to realise they can have a STEM career too, then you have played your part!