You went to school for (at least) four years, and now you have a STEM degree. STEM - representing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - is an extremely important field in today’s world, but it’s also an incredibly competitive one. In fact, according to one study, people graduating with STEM degrees has been on a sharp rise, “going from 388,000 graduates in 2009-10 to 550,000 in 2015-16 - a 43% growth.” The field has continued to grow since 2016.
What’s more, unlike many other majors, most STEM degrees are so time-consuming that a student will graduate without first having any real-world job or internship experience. This makes it all the more difficult to find work in the field - and all the more-stressful for a recent graduate who is trying to pay off student debt.
Because the field is so uniquely challenging, our experts have compiled a few guidelines for STEM majors trying to land a related job. Read on to discover some of the best strategies so you can #getthatjob.
Highlight your lab experience
Many students in STEM fields have the opportunity to work with a professor in a research lab. This practice is golden when it comes to finding a job; it’s considered important, relevant work experience that should be highlighted on a resume. Especially if your role was particularly autonomous, be sure to highlight your research methods and any problems you encountered, along with how you overcame them. You can also designate part of your resume to show which tools (physical or software) with which you’re familiar from your lab work, especially if they’re industry standards.
Lina, a Hiring Expert at ADP, furthers this point by explaining that “Although formal relevant internships are typically preferred, having any experience, even if you’re not paid for it, is still good experience to have – especially if the courses and field research you completed is relevant to the role you’re applying for.” Ref Link
This is why it’s crucial to feature your experience in a strong way: any experience in the field is good experience. And maintaining a research position while taking classes shows potential employers that you are a dedicated hard worker. That’s certainly a valuable skill to add to any team.
However, if after a long period of time your job search has been unsuccessful, Rachel, a Hiring Expert at Eaton, points out that it might be time to re-evaluate. “Focus on entry-level roles that do not need much experience in order to better your odds of getting hired. I suggest reviewing your resume to determine if you are fully marketing your capabilities, experience, and qualifications. If you have not fleshed out your research experience to explain what you have learned and what skills you have acquired, do so.” Ref Link
Use O*NET OnLine to find unique positions
Everyone raves about the helpfulness of indeed in finding jobs online, and while indeed is an excellent tool for many people, O*NET OnLine is more geared toward those in STEM. The website lets you filter by all STEM jobs, then by what type of position for which you’re looking.
From there, you’re given a long list of options for your degree or specific area of interest. (Some of those options are shown below.)
After clicking on your specific area, the site gives a break down of different skills, degrees, and work activities people hired in that area typically possess. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find a job search button (which, much like indeed can be filtered by location and title). Ultimately, the site provides more options for your desired area that typically aren’t listed on more general websites like indeed.
Don’t get discouraged
How quickly you get hired will largely depend on the market in which you’re looking. Some fields are newer or more specialized - and as a result, have less competition - making it more likely to get hired faster. However, for a more traditional role, competition is sure to be fierce. This does not mean you will be unable to get a job in a more traditional role, but it does mean it might take you longer than some of your friends in newer roles.
That said, it’s important that you don’t get too discouraged on the job hunt. It might be difficult to keep a positive attitude, but you are skilled - you have the degree to prove it. Landing a job is just a matter of finding the right employer, but if you keep looking, you’re sure to do just that.