Finding extra ways to develop and grow in your Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) career does not have to be difficult or expensive. With the advent of massive open online courses (MOOCs), you can now learn new skills for free, on your own time (usually), in the comfort of your own home. Many educational websites now offer free certifications, and, for a fee, you can even get an online degree in a variety of STEM topics. You can use these online courses to bolster existing credentials and experience you may have, or use the courses as a stepping stone to a new career. For example, if you are seeking a career in Information Technology or computer sciences, you can take a course on Artificial Intelligence from EDx.
In today’s economy, employers are not only looking for on-the-job skills but also a spirit of innovation and imagination to adapt to new challenges in our ever-changing economy. You may consider developing your creative side through hobbies, regardless of whether or not they are related to STEM or your career. You can read about the importance of cultivating your creative side here. A hobby can be a great creative outlet! You can find inspiration from STEM in your hobbies and vice versa. For example, if you like to cook, you may enjoy molecular gastronomy as a hobby.
A third way to improve your career knowledge in your job search is to set up informational interviews. An informational interview is a meeting with someone who is doing work in your desired field. You may have to call or email your interviewee out of the blue (a practice known as “cold-calling”), but informational interviews can help you make connections and gain additional information about what it’s like to work in your ideal job. You may also discover that you no longer want to work in a field after an informational interview and that’s fine, too. Life is all about responding and adapting to new challenges.
Finally, remember that in your career search, as with most things goals in life, things will take time. You will not find a job overnight. Despite your best efforts, you may still have long stretches of time during which all you do is send out coverletters and resumes and get nothing but rejection letters in return. However, if you do not give up hope, and maintain an attitude of flexibility and determination, you will find the right career that is a perfect match for your skills, experience, and interests.