Every year I ask my siblings what they’d like to do when they leave school, and every year their answers are different from the previous year. It shows how it’s okay not to know what you want, but with some guidance from STEM, it makes a difference. Being a STEM ambassador enables me to contribute to the community and help younger generation realise the hundreds of options out there. It is also a way of networking with other ambassadors from various industries.
You may have heard of the word STEM at some point in your school days. It simply stands for Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. STEM is a leading organization dedicated to improving the lives of young people by providing them with skills, knowledge, experience, and career guidance.
As a STEM ambassador, I volunteered on behalf of my employer (Dyer & Butler) to become a member. To be eligible, I had to go through standard verification check and training that includes a DBS & online induction. Upon completion, I gained access to the STEM online portal where I have access to volunteering activities. Finally, I was issued a STEM ambassador badge in recognition of becoming a verified member.
As a STEM ambassador, I enjoy the art of sharing my story to the younger generation on industry-related matters but most importantly the journey. Placing myself in their shoes, was a journey I once walked. As students in primary or secondary school of academia, they often think they know what they’d like to do when they leave school, whereas a few don’t. The truth is, you could have a degree/masters, yet still not know what you want.
Furthermore, there are other students who thinks they know what they want but end up dropping out of university in the first year. Myself included was faced with such doubts during my second year at university. Hence, I sought a year out to do a placement in order to find answers and gain clarity. Some are pressured by the presence of their parents – failing to understand it is your journey, not theirs. Therefore, during these STEM activities, I find it very important to be honest with my journey as this would help young students navigate whatever career path that works best for them.
To name a few STEM activities I did attend:
- Speed interviewing – Engaging with 14 -15-year-olds and their parents by offering industry and career advice. I openly discussed the benefits of either university or degree apprenticeships. In addition, I also touched on the importance of taking a year out to figure out what they want moving on or doing a placement year to understand the industry. I also encourage them to hold on to their hobbies as they could potentially turn into a career. Nowadays, you can easily become a YouTuber, TikToc famous, etc. Provided you enjoy doing it.
- Classroom session – A fun exercise with primary school students on building and testing bridges using spaghetti – Yes, spaghetti! The idea was to help them understand the importance of what happens to a bridge if it’s not designed correctly. In addition, presented and discussed what we do as Civil Engineers. An engaging exercise, and they loved it.
- Careers fair at Brunel University – Providing career advice to university students in the Civil Engineering industry and offering placement opportunities within our company.
My favourite session so far was attending a speed interviewing session with my then (14yr old sister). It was was my first ever STEM activity. She helped set up my station followed by a brief chat on how we intend to run the session. The session was a success. At the end of the activity, she fully understood what her brother does for a living. However, I’m sure Civil Engineering doesn’t float her boat and that’s absolutely fine. Truth be told, I would prefer my siblings having diverse knowledge in other areas. For example, If their calling are the medical sector or becoming a chef, I would then have someone to help me with health & nutrition advice. Conversely, if they decide to build a house they have me to lean on.
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