Escape the Cubicle: Study STEM

Businesswoman reviewing paperwork at deskThere’s hardly a lack of evidence these days that desk jobs can be killers. Sitting at a desk all day can have adverse effects on health, productivity, and creativity. So if our work environments make large contributions to our health and success, how can we arm the next generation with tools to avoid the monotony of the 9-5 grind? The answer lies in four little letters: S-T-E-M.

Within the STEM community, there is a broad spectrum of potential jobs boasting offices in the most unexpected places. Whether on land or in the sea, STEM professionals have access to countless opportunities to explore and study the world. For a job description filled with challenge, excitement, and engagement, a STEM career may be a perfect fit.

Build Software on the Sea

cline_danelle1_underwater When thinking the term “software engineer,” many people conjure images of a professional hunched over a computer staring at algorithms or interfaces. You may know that a career in software engineering requires the ability to analyze problems from various angles and find multiple viable solutions. But did you also know that software engineers can work in a number of environments, including the sea? Just ask Danelle Cline, Software Engineer with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Whether out to sea to support her projects or sitting in a meeting room overlooking the ocean, her daily work environment is far from boring.

Software engineers work in a variety of fields—from aviation to medicine—and job growth is expected to increase by 30% within the next six years. The sizable salary is also a nice perk; software engineers in America make an average of $73,000 per year. Armed with a knack for problem solving, a creative spirit, and a curious mind, the software engineer can take his/her career almost anywhere.

Tour with Tornadoes

WurmanWorking as a meteorologist entails much more than predicting rainstorms and temperatures on the nightly news. As explained by Dr. Josh Wurman, Meteorologist and Storm Chaser, “a lot of my time is spent traveling, whether I am working on our own missions collecting data for tornadoes and hurricanes, or working on projects for other scientists.” The relative youth of this particular field of study means that opportunities for new research and experiments are varied and plentiful. Whether you want to chase storms or study climate change, there is a bright future for prospective meteorologists.

Boast an Office View of the Natural World

Coconut IslandSince biology is a blanket term for the study of all living organisms, a career as a biologist ensures widespread availability of diverse jobs and favorable fields of study. Whether you’re working to conserve endangered plants and animals in their natural habitats or researching gene expression and epigenetics from a lab on Gilligan’s Island, a career as a biologist oftentimes requires a great deal of contact with the natural world. With the continual meshing of scientific research and technology, a career in biology is a sure bet for innovation and job growth.


The Power of Putting Our Heads Together

Ok students, this one’s for you.

Our story today started when we came across this article about a group of over 1,000 programmers who gathered this month at Penn for the world’s biggest university hackathon. Ok, before you think us too provocative, according to this article the term hacker does not allude to crime and espionage— rather it simply means build. So anyway, the fact that over 1,000 brilliant minds all joined together for “the programmer’s version of a slumber party, science fair, and Super Bowl rolled into one” got us thinking about something that we heard many times in our cool jobs interviews.

If you aren’t familiar with our Cool Jobs feature, it’s probably one of the coolest things that we have posted on our websites. We tracked down over 50 current STEM professionals and asked them to share their stories about how they ended up in their careers. These professionals also offered practical advice to students about how they too could follow in their footsteps and land themselves a similar career. And one of the main things we kept hearing from these STEM all-stars over and again was how students should get involved with other people who share their interests.

Dr. Chris JonesPeople like Dr. Chris Jones, a researcher with the high-profile company iRobot, suggested that kids interested in robotics can get hands-on experience with robotics by participating in such competitions as First Robotics.


Dr. Josh Wurman, a meteorologist and storm chaser that you may recognize from the Discovery Channel’s series Storm Chasers, advises students to get involved in meteorology clubs in the local area. And if your school or community does not have a group for your subject of choice, don’t let that stop you… start one! You might be surprised exactly how many of your peers are interested in the same things you are!

So yes, it’s definitely cool that over 1,000 programmers got together at Penn to create amazing things. But we think the coolest part of this story is how it illustrates what is possible when people get together. Whenever like-minded people from different backgrounds and with different experiences join together, the whole is almost always greater than the sum of the parts. So get out there and join a club, a competition, or a community event… or start your own!

But enough from us… what do you think? Have you participated in a cool event or club recently?