Advertising your scientific background to non-STEM roles

I thought that I had my whole future planned out before college began–I wanted to study neuroscience, go to graduate school, and do research related to brain injuries. I had fallen in love with the resilience of the human brain after recovering from snowboarding-related concussions and a brain hemorrhage, and I was confident that I wanted to devote my career to brain research.

Many fellow STEM students probably chose their majors with a similar vision in mind. Maybe you want(ed) to attend medical school, or perhaps you are/were thinking of attending graduate school. However, it is normal for our interests to change with time. If you recently learned about a new career path that you are completely fascinated by, or the thought of attending school for several more years suddenly seems too daunting or unfeasible at the moment, you are not alone! It can be scary to realize that your career aspirations have changed, but you are going to be okay.

Although it may not appear immediately obvious, the skills that you learn as a STEM major (especially on the block plan) are transferable to opportunities outside of STEM in countless ways. STEM students are constantly immersed in tasks that require extensive collaboration with peers, problem-solving, synthesizing information, analytical thinking, and presenting. These skills are indispensable in just about any industry. So, if you are worried that your past achievements in STEM are not directly relevant to your new career goals, it is essential to talk about your accomplishments in a way that will highlight these strengths.

For example, if you have ever worked in a lab group to conduct an experiment and formally communicate your findings, you have exercised an array of skills that are marketable to just about any career, such as teamwork, data analyses, presenting, and trouble-shooting. There are many skills that you may unconsciously condition through STEM that can serve as invaluable assets to any job.

Check out these resources for more tips on how to translate your STEM skills to diverse careers!



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