When we interviewed the Women in STEM, we asked for tips they would offer to girls, teens and young women currently in school or participating in STEM-based programs. From the multitude of great advice and insight we received, we present these 10 Tips:
Don’t Worry About What Others Think
Everyone is different. Successful people celebrate their differences and work together to create great things with their different skills. Our differences help us move forward. Own your voice and be confident in it. Own your path to success, and honor how unique you are.
Stand Out in Your Niche
Do you know the secret of having large followings on social media? It is not liking and agreeing with, or doing, what others do. It is standing out in what you do best. Be a trendsetter. Excel in what you do best. Dance differently than everyone else has. Always try to be the one who creates the new item, that solves the puzzle, that shows others how it’s done. This is a superpower that assures success and a very fulfilling life and career.
Try a Lot of Things
Think of STEM as your chance to play in the sandbox of experimenting, building, discovering and adventuring. As one of our older featured Women in STEM says, “I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.” Trying new things gives you a bigger toolbox. It makes you want to learn even more. It opens new worlds, new career possibilities, new ways to make your mark and tell your unique story in the world. You also become the person everyone wishes she or he could be!
Find Your Squad
As young scientists and voracious learners, STEM students spend a lot of time building, experimenting or thinking on their own. Find your squad, the people who are also into STEM, who you can talk to, who support you and add to your brilliance — and who you support and help. Go to libraries, chemistry labs, field trips and summer camps together. Hang out in STEM as if it were lunch break. Find people who love the same thing you love — and become the rock stars we need most: tomorrow’s innovators and world-builders.
Failure Is Good
Failure is not only good, but it’s necessary to achieve great success. It is literally what science and engineering is built from. Thomas Edison failed 10,000 or more times before inventing the modern light bulb. Great people fail often — and then they learn from their mistakes. We cannot evolve or advance anything in science, or life, without failing to some degree, and then adjusting. So, if you get a wrong answer on an exam, or build a robot that doesn’t work, take it apart, figure out the mistake and come back more powerful than ever.
Let Your Dreams Grow — and Change
When you state a dream, know that is the most important thing you want to achieve. For now. If your dream changes, move with it, and grow it. Every two years or so, evaluate your dreams and ask, “do I still want this? Is this still my goal? Am I still so passionate about it that I’ll do whatever it takes to get there?” Like careers and life experiences, dreams change as we grow. New dreams are always good, for you, for your work and for the world.
Practice 360-Degree Focus
When a scientist invents a process or product, she or he does much more than put together materials in a combination and application no one has seen before. What goes into that are the preceding failures, research, learning equipment and materials, visualizing the product when complete… and so much more. All of this adds up to 360-degree focus. Train your entire attention on that project while doing it. Bring in everything that led to that moment. Use it to empower you to find the solution and bring it into the world.
Find Classes That Combine Fields
Science is a series of specialized fields — chemistry, biology, physics, etc. However, life and nature are what happens when these fields work together. Make that your approach to STEM education. Find classes (or, upper-level college students, create classes) that combine these fields. Environmental science is a perfect example. Understand how the fields interconnect, and how by working together, they create more opportunity in the world, and in your career. Become knowledgeable in as many fields as possible.
Enter Your Gateway, and Then…
What is the science, subject or career field you really want to do now? Use it to get in the door to an internship, college, job or new program — and then be open to seeing what other fields it takes you to. Maybe you want to be a veterinarian, but once you finish vet school, researching is your thing. Or, you are building robots, but once you move into that field, you find automating NextGen factories is all about you. Gateways are huge. Now is the time to determine yours and where you think it can take you.
Be True to Vision. Heart. Self.
You might be 12, or 14, or 16, and the world of friends and activities that lies ahead is awesome and full of the fun you want to have. That’s when it’s time to commit even more deeply to STEM and your studies — and to yourself. When you become an adult, you’ll be having even more fun building tomorrow’s world and society, with plenty of friends who think and achieve as well. Be true to your vision. Be true to your heart. Be true to who you are. Wear your superpowers brilliantly.