What is STEM?

STEM is the abbreviation for the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It can refer to curricula or to careers in these disciplines. They are grouped together because skill sets in each discipline often combine to make up a degree or career. For example, aerospace engineering draws on science, computer information technology, engineering and mathematical principles. These disciplines are also grouped together because they require similar skills such as quantitative analysis, reasoning and problem-solving to master them.

So why the emphasis on STEM in school curricula? These are the disciplines that keep the US competitive in world markets and keep us at the forefront of technology. However, many leaders think we are falling behind in these areas. Enrollment in college and university STEM programs is down, and the percentage of women in these programs is still low.  However, some fixes for these problems do exist. More emphasis is placed on STEM disciplines at all levels of American education from primary to college. Role models in the form of female STEM faculty are now hired more frequently and are more highly visible at the higher education level. Mentoring programs for women with both male and female mentors are another key solution to the problem of how to draw more women into STEM careers. Paid research projects and internships also help keep both men and women studying in STEM disciplines. But the help should not stop there. Career services offices at the nation’s colleges and universities should actively seek to develop relationships with companies that can use these students’ skills. Career counselors should also offer workshops and one-on-one’s about how to project a professional image and interview for STEM careers.

Want to know more about STEM careers? Check out the O*Net Online.

Where Have All the Career Dreams Gone?

From Tumblr


As I wrote in Creating a Work Legacy, sometimes you have to forgo your dream job for one that will pay the bills right now. Or perhaps your dream career isn’t attainable because of money, lack of talent or difficulty in getting into degree programs. But that does not necessarily mean that you have to give up what is behind those dreams. Believe me, you are lucky if you even know what your passion truly is. People often plod through their careers without knowing what it is that they would really love to be doing.

Figure out why your career dream is so important to you. Why do you want this career? Is it money, prestige or fame? Is it about using special skills you feel you have? How can you incorporate what drives your career dreams into your present-day life? Sometimes you can do this by setting a simpler version of your dreams as a goal or by pursuing them as a hobby.

For example, I loved performing music in high school. However, I knew I lacked the talent to pursue a music career, and stage fright was also a deal breaker. But I still loved music. I joined choruses over the years and performed in concerts. I participated in as much amateur training as I could, taking music classes at the schools where I worked, advising students with performance-related health problems, and attending training institutes. Pursuing simpler goals and hobbies gave me some insight into music, this love of my life. I realized as much as I loved music, I did not have the stamina for a single-minded pursuit that a music career demands. Instead, I found that sometimes scaling down my dreams gave me big rewards. I have had careers on both coasts, working with creative students, have met famous musicians, learned from fabulously talented people and have traveled to Russia to perform. I know now I would not have traded any of this for a career in music. I’ve also learned that the word “amateur” means “lover,” not “less skilled.” And I don’t let the professionals tell me any different.

As Shakespeare’s famous quote puts forth, who we are and what is important to us is ephemeral and eventually dissolves away. I would pursue music as a hobby if I could not do it as a career rather than not have it in my life at all. This is it. There is no do-over, no second life in which to pursue your real passions, so do it now while you can.

Want a Job? Hand Over Your Facebook Passwords. Now.


It is all over the Internet that if you are looking for a job, you’d better clean up your social media pages such as Facebook and Twitter. However, a recent article on MSNBC.com describes how people being interviewed for a job were asked to either log onto their Facebook accounts or hand over the passwords so that the interviewer could check their Facebook pages. Duh. The accounts are password protected for a reason. Say, privacy, perhaps? Or free speech?

Now, there is nothing on my Facebook page that would prevent me from getting a job, but seriously? Isn’t this an invasion of privacy? Aren’t there laws in place to prevent this kind of spying? Apparently not. Just like the laws being considered to prevent employers from eliminating you from consideration for a job if you are not employed, some states are looking to ban employers from demanding your social media passwords. Good for them.

And it doesn’t stop at the interview process. There are also companies who are demanding access to their employees’ social media pages. There are so many ways this could be abused. I’ve had supervisors who I never would have wanted to have access to friends’ and family’s pics/info. These companies assume that their hiring and supervising managers are going to use the info found on these pages in a mature manner that protects the company. I seriously doubt that. Would you want some guy ogling your daughter’s party pics on Facebook? Or a would-be employer to have access to pics of your oh-so-attractive cousin? How about access to your game-playing history or where you go for drinks?

It’s bad enough that people are so gullible as to assume that recruiters/managers/HR people friending them are actually friends. If you don’t check out who is friending you first, it’s your own fault if these people wind up on your friend list with access to your info. You should check your privacy settings often. They seem to get set back to “Public” every time Facebook makes a big change to your pages. And you shouldn’t be playing on your social media pages during work time. That should be enough. You shouldn’t have to forfeit a chance at a job because employers feel they have a right to your private info. They don’t. Period.