There is an increasing popularity getting a career in STEM (Science, technology, engineering and math) meaning there is an immense amount of competition to secure a job role in the sector. Those who are lucky enough to land themselves a job in STEM are some of the most sought-after employees in the business world. Drone technology for example, is constantly evolving meaning there is always the need for new research and insights into progression by employees in the STEM field.

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In order to branch into the industry, it’s important you start doing the groundwork early enough. There are many ways you can prepare for a career in STEM and this article will give you all the information you need to boost your chances of success.

Study a course

It’s almost impossible to make it in the STEM sector if you haven’t got a relevant degree qualification. As university places are limited and competition is high, there is an alternative – studying a qualification online. This would be ideal for individuals who are struggling timewise for face-to-face study sessions or are working around their current job to change career paths.

One example of a relevant course in STEM is an electrical engineering degree online. The course integrates an array of modules and topics including the likes of design, signal processing and studies on cutting-edge technology. This course will provide you with a diversified skillset to work in any STEM area. Typical industries many graduates go into after studying this course include research and development, manufacturing and telecommunications.

Get experience

There are many STEM-related opportunities you can get involved with upon first starting out. It’s all about doing the research to find them and working out which sector of STEM is best for you. Testing the waters will give you an idea on whether working in STEM is the ideal career plan for you, before making any commitments and will also be a valuable extra for your resume.

It can be difficult to find work experience before graduating from university, but it is possible if you look in the right places. The opening could be as easy as asking family and friends whether they know anyone in the sector who would be willing to offer you a short-term voluntary work placement, or you may even ask your school if they know of any past students working in STEM they could put you in contact with.

Some work experience examples include:

If you fail to find any opportunities – don’t be too disheartened. Why not set up your very own STEM discussion group at school, where you could share research and findings with one another and learn about their interests in science, technology, engineering, and math. Employers will find it impressive that you’re passionate enough to carry out STEM research in your own time.

Keep up to date with news

One of the best things you can do to boost your prospects in STEM would be to keep up to date with all of the industry news to give you a better understanding of your chosen field. There are various resources online to follow STEM news or read up on blogs discussing developments in STEM. You may also like to subscribe to STEM magazines or visit your local library regularly to see whether new research-based books have come in.

Of course, there are likely to be many occasions when you don’t understand certain points you read about – but don’t fret too much. If you’re inexperienced in the STEM sector, you’re not going to be an expert. If you have time on your hands, research the aspects you don’t understand in further detail, but don’t allow it to consume your free time to the point where it feels like a chore.

Look for smaller companies

When first starting out, most people have the ambition of working for the biggest and most notable firms and while this is a great dream to hold onto, it’s not always set to be the reality. Due to the amount of competition in the STEM sector, you’re going to be a small fish in a huge pond.

Smaller firms on the other hand, are much more open to giving new graduates and apprentices a chance and are likely to spend more time getting to know you as a person and find out about your interests. Instead of looking to relocate to the big city to find work, check out the opportunities that may be available to you locally. Once you find a job in STEM, it’s easy to progress into higher positions.

Do your research on the job you want to apply for

Once you have found a job that may be suitable for you, ensure you’ve done the correct research beforehand into the job role itself and have a good understanding of the company’s history, brand message and goals. Although you may have done an adequate amount of research in the STEM sector as a whole, it’s fundamental you understand what your job will entail. 25% of employers confirmed this is one of the biggest mistakes a candidate can make during the application process.

Get a mentor

Learning from those who have already succeeded in STEM and have a vast amount of knowledge and experience to share is one of the best forms of guidance. If you’re aware of teachers or mentors who have worked in STEM, don’t be afraid to ask questions about their accomplishments and how they got started. Be sure to ask those all-important queries – why and how? Showing your interest in their career may encourage them to help you find openings in the sector and possibly even pass your name onto their own contacts.

Create a LinkedIn Profile

A LinkedIn profile is a great way of building on your professional network and getting your name out. It’s always best to create a profile as soon as you can, rather than when a job comes up. If potential employers are keen on hiring you, they may offer you a position before advertising for the role.

Add your past work experiences, skillset and hopes for the future onto your profile. What you choose to write is essentially your opening to opportunity, so ensure you take the time to fill out the section with detail and accuracy. Spend time connecting with friends, family members and professional acquaintances and make a note of their connections. Some of these connections may go on to become vital contacts in your STEM journey.