Young Science: Encouraging Careers in STEM

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When we hear STEM, we think of the traditional science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. But STEM fields open a world of opportunities for careers. Susanne Lettner is a marketing specialist (focus: corporate communications) working at a mechanical engineering company. She is an ambassador for the Berlin-based initiative "MINT Zukunft schaffen“ (MINT is the German translation for STEM). Furthermore, she is an ambassador for the Vienna based initiative "Young Science”. “Young Science” is a Center for the Cooperation of Science and School. We spoke with Susanne about her promotion of STEM for boys and girls.

“STEM is an important field and it helps to shape our future through technology. For that we need smart, creative and bright people working on solutions. People in STEM are the inventors and they work to make our planet a better place for everyone”, says Susanne. She and other ambassadors of the Berlin-based initiative, MINT Zukunft schaffen, help boys and girls to find their way into the STEM field. For that “MINT Zukunft schaffen” works together with schools, Universities and companies across all industries.

I advise girls and boys to get a first impression of the STEM fields by discovering. Internships are a good opportunity where girls and boys can talk to professionals who can give them tips. So they can learn from them and know what they expect in their studies, which career prospects there are and already test whether this is the right job”, explains Susanne. “In Germany we have an event called Girls’Day, which allows girls to spend one day getting insight in a company or a research institute. That is an easy and nice way to get in first contact.”

STEM Events for Boys and Girls

Age-related STEM events are a great way to spark young people's interest in a STEM profession. Susanne Lettner has planned and organised different STEM events for boys and girls. She enjoys inspiring pupils and students with science, technology, engineering and math disciplines and to give them an understanding of STEM fields. “My experience has shown, that STEM events should be diversified. A STEM event can include a tour through the company, a discussion and a practical part. The discussion is important. Young people can ask many questions and the employees can talk authentically about their occupational history and their workday. Also the employees can explain the young visitors their daily work challenges or they can present their exciting projects. The practical part is fun! Boys and girls have the possibility to spring into action. The exercises should be co-ordinated to the different age levels. Young people have to try out to arouse curiosity”.

That STEM events to be able to come about at all, good cooperation between the companies, schools and universities are important. On the one hand, potential employers have to budget time for the STEM events and take a welcoming, open attitude. On the other hand, it is necessary that motivated teachers and lecturers from schools and colleges participate and playfully introduce young people to the STEM area. Therefore, companies, as well as schools and universities should meet in partnership, because the cooperation benefits both sides sustainably. So the hope is, that one or the other participant is motivated by the STEM event and starts a STEM training.

Good Examples:

In order to get a positive image for the STEM field, good examples from practice are helpful. Media coverage can show that a STEM job is creative and diversified. This allows reporting on outstanding, innovative projects or ideas of people who authentically present their professional activity. Especially to show that women in the field of STEM are actively represented, help girls to self-confidently decide in this area. A rethinking in the public occurs when good examples are known. Authentic information removes stereotypes.

About:

Susanne Lettner earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and PR, and Master’s Degree in Dance Studies from Free University Berlin. She also took part in the International Business Program "International Strategy and Structure" at the Business School ESCP Europe, Business School Berlin. Additionally, she completed her studies as Online-Marketing-Manager at the German Press Academy Berlin. Susanne Lettner is a marketing specialist with a focus on corporate communications and she works at a mechanical engineering company. In her professional career, she writes about topics such as e-mobility, autonomous driving, digitization or Industry 4.0. She is an ambassador for the Berlin based initiative "MINT Zukunft schaffen“ (MINT is the German translation for STEM). Furthermore she is an ambassador for the Vienna based initiative "Young Science”. “Young Science” is a Center for the Cooperation of Science and School.

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