Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The push for STEM Careers

Today my Chem teacher read to us a list of facts about STEM careers and talked about how great our lives will be if we go into that field. We've all heard the stats. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers are the best bet for job security and making the big bucks. I hear it everywhere- in my school, in magazines, online. It seems to be all I EVER hear. I'm probably exaggerating, but that's what it feels like.

So what, then, happens to us right brained people who have zero desire for a STEM career? I think it's great my teachers and counselors are sharing all this information with us, but I do think it can be hard to remember that it's equally important to choose a career that you're passionate about.

Figuring out my career path and what I want to do with my life has been a huge stressor for me ever since I started high school last year. Up until recently, that is. Writing that out makes it sound so crazy. I'm only a sophomore in high school for goodness' sakes! The only thing I knew up until recently was that I want to work with kids.

I have always been a dreamer and a hard worker. I've had a lot of role models and experiences that have made me this way, but I've always been sort of a try-hard. I think this is partly what contributed to my mid-highschool crisis.

It all started last year with Honors Bio. I took all honors classes my freshman year. This class I found interesting, which was bizarre because I have never been one for the STEM subjects. I did really well in the class, finishing with an A. Most of my friends suffered a lot with it and finished with Bs and Cs. This made me think that I wanted to do something medical.

I got it in my head that I wanted to be a pediatrician or a nurse. I did find Bio interesting, but what mostly did it for me was the fact that the medical path is one for the elite. I could do really well in something that's REALLY hard. Or, so I thought.

I'm going somewhere with this, I promise.

The push for STEM careers and the idea of job security, making $$$, and fierce competition made me  convinced that medicine was the field for me.

Had it not been for my Child Development class this year, I probably would've continued on my entire life in a career I wasn't passionate about. 

I chose to take Child Development over Anatomy when scheduling last year, and thank goodness I did because it reassured me  of my calling. I realized just a few months ago that I have the choice to pursue my dream job of teaching or child psychology. It sounds so crazy, but I really had ruled out those fields because I thought my only choice for having a good future was STEM careers. I now am excited about my future instead of nervous and anxious, since I'm completely positive that this is what I'm meant to do.

It seems that after making that decision (and before), everywhere I go all I hear is "choose a STEM job". Well, you know what? STEM jobs can suck it. Okay, sorry. If you're completely interested in STEM subjects, and that's your thing, well more power to ya. I may even be a teeny bit jealous because your passion also gets you job security and lots of moo-lah. But just make sure that's your passion!

I was reading the U.S. News & World Report College Edition a few weeks ago, and again, that was pretty much focused on STEM careers. One of the stories really stuck out to me. It was a story about a college kid who switched his major from history to some sort of engineering (I forget which) because that's what his dad had pushed for and he realized he could make tons of money with that degree. The story went on to talk about how he now had a great job right out of college, blah blah. 

All I could think about as I read about the kid's "success" was how he had decided he wanted to go to school for history. Most people don't make the decision about their college major lightly. I mean, you've gotta be pretty interested in history to decide you want to major in it. And to go from history to ENGINEERING? That just sounds crazy to me. Those two things are just so different. I hate to say it, but it sounds to me like that kid is just going to get so tired of his job and wake up every morning dreading going to work.

I get that history may not be the most practical major. There's only so much you can do with a history degree. But along with all this talk about practicality and what makes the most sense, it's important to remember your own personal happiness.

No one has the right to tell you what you should do with your life. Explore your options if you're not sure, and make sure you're choosing something that makes you happy. 

(All images found on Tumblr. My tumblr is linked on the top right of my blog.)


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