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Guidance for Middle/High Schoolers - Pursuing a career in STEM

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

Author: Hrishita Mareddy, a sophomore at Richard Montgomery High School and Arts-n-STEM4Hearts Ambassador, shares her experience and recommendations on what you can do in middle school and high school to pursue a career in STEM. In the IB program, she has had many opportunities to partake in STEM extracurricular activities and clubs. She shares an avid interest and passion in helping those who may have interest in STEM, but might not have the resources to do so. Hrishita's hobbies include debating, participating in writing competitions and public speaking, and reading.

How should middle schoolers start thinking and dreaming about their future in the STEM field? Starting from their middle school, what extra-curricular activities they should pick up to pursue their interests in STEM careers?

I would say that it's never too early to start! During the school year, look for volunteering or extracurricular activities that you can participate in specifically geared towards STEM! A few examples from my middle school include Science Olympiad, Future Cities, the Robotic Team, FLL (First Lego League) and so many more! Don't forget that you could also start a club if you find a good idea or competition you can compete in. During the summer, again, look for volunteering opportunities. This can vary depending on your perceived STEM field. For example, if you are planning to enter the medical field, see if you can volunteer at a doctor's/physician's or vet's office as a receptionist. This includes internships! If you are planning to enter into the IT or Computer Science field, look for clubs you can join (Girls Who Code is one example) with leadership opportunities. Similarly, if you are looking to enter the engineering field, you can enter into robotics competitions (like First Lego League!) or something of the sort. The options are really limitless.

What skills sets do they need to develop? What subjects they should be interested in taking to pursue their interests in STEM-related subject fields in high school?

Well, it ultimately depends. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) includes such a broad range of tasks and prerequisite skill sets. Don't forget-- there are many STEM activities that you can find geared towards your specific age group as well. In terms of preparing for college or a career, I would suggest participating in clubs and extracurriculars in that specific field. Taking specific classes in high school (like

Human Anatomy, or Advanced Placement Biology for medicine, or AP Statistics for Data Analytics or Mathematics) will also prepare you well for college. (AP classes also give you college credit!)

What types of things must they like to cultivate their interest in STEM?

Don't forget that you don't need to be interested in STEM right now, in middle school for you to pursue a career in it. Note that high school will offer a multitude of classes for you to gain interest in the field. And if you don't, there's nothing wrong with that either. But if you already show strong interest in biology, science, mathematics, analytical data and statistics, engineering, robotics, coding, hacking and/or computer science, you may have a career in STEM lined up for you!

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