Want to build a successful career in Science, Tech, Engineering or Maths (STEM)? Looking to one day feature in your own Google Doodle? Searching for someone inspiring who can guide you from your notebook in Science class to a Nobel Prize? You need a mentor ‚Äì and here‚Äôs why.
1.¬†¬†¬†¬†Taking the first step is often the hardest one of all
Much of the time, knowing how to begin building your STEM career is the hardest part. With so many different avenues to choose from, where do you start? Some of you may be lucky enough to already be passionate about one¬†STEM field. Amazing! Some of you may not, which is absolutely ok too. Having a mentor who can act as a sounding board as you start exploring different STEM career paths can be an invaluable asset. Being able to speak to someone who has been there before¬†can make things feel much more manageable. Through our mentoring programme,¬†Student to Stemette (STS), we can match you to your own female mentor. They¬†can be an invaluable resource when you face obstacles along the way to becoming a woman in STEM. That‚Äôs why we call our mentors ‚ÄúSherpas‚Äù (and refer to mentees as ‚ÄúSherpees‚Äù).¬†Nepalese Sherpas¬†are regarded as highly skilled mountaineers. In the same way that they¬†lead climbers through their treks,¬†we hope your Sherpa will offer you guidance until your next big career milestone.
2.¬†¬†¬†¬†If it works for Taylor, it‚Äôs good enough for me
Whether you love her or loathe her, you‚Äôve got to admire Taylor Swift (we‚Äôre Team Taylor ‚Äì check out our recent Swifty-inspired Huffington Post blog). The glittery-dress-wearing-cat-loving-Spotify-hating music phenomenon must be doing something right. Want to know one of her secrets? Having a multitude of mentors ‚Äì most of whom aren‚Äôt necessarily in exactly the same field as her. Having a mentor who works in a slightly different part of STEM to the one you‚Äôre passionate about can be a huge advantage. They can offer you insights you may not have thought of and introduce you to career options you may not have considered. At the same time, they can give you access to what is still a STEM-related network of contacts. A breadth of perspectives and insights is essential as you shape your career. For example,¬†Head Stemette Anne-Marie‚Äôs career has been tech-focussed. Yet,¬†she has mentors from fields as varied as finance and the non-profit sector. Clare Sudbery, a software engineer at LateRooms.Com, wrote about the importance of role models in a recent post on her¬†blog.
3.¬†¬†¬†¬†We all need #inspiration sometimes‚Ä¶
Who doesn‚Äôt love an inspiring Insta post? Think of your mentor as a collection of your fave Insta and Tumblr quotes in human form. Even the most successful (in fact,¬†especially¬†the most successful) women in STEM have moments of fear¬†and indecision. When things get tough, having someone by your side who can remind you why you chose¬†a career in STEM is worth a thousand quotes on filtered backgrounds. A recent¬†You Gov poll¬†(conducted by CW Jobs)¬†found distinct differences between the encouragement men and women experienced with regards to¬†the IT and tech fields. Unsurprisingly, women reported a lower level of encouragement across every metric measured. Finding people who have built successful STEM careers,¬†who can act as sources of encouragement and inspiration for you, is essential if this trend is to be reversed.
4.¬†¬†¬†¬†‚Ä¶but also some tough love, too
Building a career which is sustainable is going to require taking some tough decisions at times. It‚Äôs really important to have people around you who you can trust to give you honest advice. Take YouTube sensation, Zoella, for example. At the end of last year she made the call to take some time out from¬†vlogging.¬†¬†She attributed this¬†decision¬†to the pressures of her career (she described the internet as ‚Äúclouding up my brain‚Äù). Sometimes we all need people who can give us objective feedback, and gently remind us to take a much-needed break when necessary (or to suggest we maybe spend less time watching Zoella‚Äôs channel, and get back to work!).
5.¬†¬†¬†¬†Make Santa proud – give your own mentoring gift
One of the best parts of success is being able to share the love when you get there. A mentor can help you to find your way through the tricky terrain of building your dream STEM career. They can give you equal amounts of guidance, inspiration and constructive criticism. And, just as they‚Äôve done for you, we hope you‚Äôll give back to the next generation of women in STEM by becoming a mentor in the future. Go on, make Santa proud. There‚Äôs no better gift than a mentor.
Student to Stemette is run by Stemettes and supported by Deutsche Bank. For more details, follow¬†@StudentStemette¬†on Twitter and check out¬†StudentToStemette.org. Our next Sherpee/Sherpa matching events are taking place in London and Birmingham in early January 2016 ‚Äì click here for more info.