How to choose the STEM course that’s right for you

With technological advances being rapid and frequent, students should identify their interests and career aspirations before opting for a course

April 21, 2024 05:17 pm | Updated 05:17 pm IST

Internships are also valuable to gain hands-on experience in and explore different STEM fields.

Internships are also valuable to gain hands-on experience in and explore different STEM fields. | Photo Credit: Freepik

Advances in technology have led to the evolution of existing markets and industries. As new job sectors emerge, it’s essential to stay abreast of the latest technology tools and tactics, as technologies taught in classrooms may not be relevant by the time students graduate. This can cause a gap between the graduates and organisational expectations. This requires more focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) in educational institutions to allow the next generation of leaders to develop the competencies required.

The first step in choosing the right STEM course is to understand what one wants in their career. What do you hope to achieve with a degree in any of the STEM fields? Do you want to pursue a career in a specific aspect or just gain foundational knowledge that could be translated to a wide variety of roles, including a general business position?

New skills

The growing demand for new and advanced skills like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud Computing, Data Science and Analysis, automation, audit and compliance, customer service, engineering and maintenance, finance and accounting, software project management and leadership are projected to bring in new job avenues. Some of the niche skills within each field that are hardest to find are knowledge of robotics, ethics and compliance knowledge, audit tools and software, and natural language processing (NLP). Stakeholder communication and control systems related to auditing, quality assurance for auditing, and software project management are skills highly in-demand with lower talent availability in the market. You can set yourself apart by pursuing one of these unique backgrounds.

Market disruptions are not uniform across skill clusters. For example, engineering and maintenance talent are experiencing stronger demand compared to other clusters. At the same time, the growth of this talent pool has been particularly slow, especially in the areas of green technology and other related emerging skills. There is also a surge in demand for content creation skills as the digital marketing landscape becomes more competitive. As organisations across sectors become more reliant on data to make educated decisions, they need more people who can gather, evaluate, and exchange data to solve business challenges.

Customer service skills are also still in demand, despite the automation prospects from AI. Humans are still vital in handling personal interactions, fostering client relationships, and leveraging other soft skills that build trust and loyalty. Organisations are seeking expert knowledge of local regulations and best practices. Sound decision-making skills are additionally critical, and employers look for candidates who they can count on for independent thinking, research, reasoning, and problem-solving.

What to look for

STEM aspirants can take into consideration the pre-requisites for roles they are interested in, skill supply in the market, compensation, work trends, and so on. This will help to narrow down the STEM degree that suits their needs. They can also make use of online platforms, videos, and articles to gain more insights. Networking events, informational interviews, online platforms, and other resources to connect with professionals and learn about their work roles and responsibilities and the skills required. Internships are also valuable to gain hands-on experience in and explore different STEM fields, including day-to day responsibilities, field cultures and challenges of specific professions.

Students should also have candid self-assessments to identify individual strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This analysis will help them to find the STEM disciplines and courses that are a fit. Students can evaluate their preferences, likes and dislikes based on their interest and the prospect that STEM holds for them.

The writer is Senior Manager, MassMutual India.

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