STEM professionals credit real-world, hands-on experience as the most critical factor in landing a STEM job, according to a new national survey of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals in a study by the MdBio Foundation Inc. (MdBio), in collaboration with The Science Advisory Board.
A majority of the 523 STEM professionals surveyed said they chose to pursue a scientific career before they entered college.
“These findings are a clarion call for stronger ties between K-12 schools and STEM employers,” MdBio President and CEO Brian Gaines said. “The survey makes clear we need a vastly improved plan to offer K-12 students more experiential STEM education opportunities if the U.S. is to be a global leader in STEM workforce development. At MdBio Foundation, we intend to lead by example. In the coming months we will build on our current strategies to help better connect K-12 educators with STEM employers to give them a roadmap to develop the next generation of STEM leaders in Maryland.”
Key findings of the survey include:
- A vast majority of respondents strongly believe that, given a choice, they would pick the same educational pathway (72 percent) and the same career pathway (76 percent) again
- 58 percent of those surveyed decided to pursue a STEM career prior to entering college
- 53 percent said hands-on experience — such as internships and summer jobs — was the most important factor in landing a full-time STEM job. In fact, this experience was more important than the reputation of their college, their degree or networking.
“Our mission is to help create and facilitate these opportunities in Maryland, but we cannot do this alone,” Gaines said. “We urge leading STEM companies to engage more with schools to enhance student curriculum so that it better reflects real world challenges and provide them with more direct access to STEM professionals who can share their knowledge and experience, and advise students on career development.”