Maybe you are graduating from college but feeling a little uncertain about the future? Some of your friends may be headed to graduate or medical school and others may be starting jobs with pharmaceutical or biotech companies. It may seem that everyone else has a career plan, but you are not alone, and you have plenty of time to explore career options to put your science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) degree to use. Actually, taking a little time off to get some real world experience and help define your career goals can be more beneficial in the long run than jumping into grad school or a job that puts you on the wrong path… So, here’s your post-graduation homework: ten career development activities that will help you find a STEM career path that’s just right for you.
1. Postbachelor/postbaccalaureate positions – consider a postgraduate research position or internship to test out different career fields, expand your skill sets and enhance your resume. Here is a short list of programs offering positions to recent college graduates (performing an internet search for “postbaccalaureate research programs” will yield even more results):
2. Certificate programs – some STEM careers (e.g., medical technology) require an additional degree program beyond the bachelor’s degree, so read up on education qualifications for any career paths of interest.
3. Professional science master’s programs – check out these graduate degree programs that teach students business skills along with advanced science courses to prepare students for careers in science management areas. There are also degree programs specific to entering engineering management.
4. Online professional communities – join an online community for career prep information, posting your resume and viewing job postings. Most professional societies maintain a career portal accessible from their main web page (e.g., MySciNet from Science Careers).
5. LinkedIn.com – create a free profile and start building a professional network, join professional and science groups and search job postings. (See “How to Build a Professional Network, Part III: LinkedIn” for more information.)
6. Career counseling center – check out your school’s career center and make an appointment with a career counselor to discuss career options in your field.
7. Career fairs – ask your local career center about ongoing career fairs and look up resources for resume and interview preparation from online career centers (e.g., University of California-San Francisco and NIH).
8. Faculty mentor – make an appointment to speak with a close faculty member that can point out your positive skills sets and offer career advice.
9. Informational interviews – conduct short interviews with professionals working in careers that interest you to learn more about entering that career path. (See “How to Build a Professional Network, Part II: Informational Interviews” for tips.)
10. Job search engines – make a list of job search engines and check the sites on a regular basis or set up alerts for keywords. Even if you are not looking for a job right now, you can gain a lot of information about jobs open in your field and see what qualifications are needed to land that dream job. I like to keep a text file of website addresses to periodically check out jobs in my field. Here’s a few STEM-specific job sites to add to your list:
**Discussion Point: Do you have any other useful tips and resources to share with recent college graduates?**