Last night I attended the senior dinner for graduating Columbia engineers and sat next to a student who was going into consulting. The company she’s going to work for, she said, recruited heavily, and offered a diversity of experiences, which appealed to her because she said she wasn’t quite sure yet what she wanted to do with her life. She admitted that she would probably not use any of her undergraduate STEM education.
I wonder how many students don’t pursue advanced studies in science or engineering because they feel like they didn’t find anything they want to specialize in? I wonder what we as faculty could do better to help them?
Also, I wonder if there’s not some way were she could find a way of applying her engineering talents without forcing her to specialize. For example, if she were to go work at a small startup company with engineering or technical problems her talents might be applied (I noticed that someone else at the table said she was his ‘go to’ person whenever he got stuck on programming, for example), yet, because at a small company everyone needs to do every task, she would be able to see multiple facets of creating and scaling a company, in addition to finding that her engineering talents were applied. Certainly such engineering skills are in high demand here in NYC.
Perhaps we as STEM faculty here in NYC can do a better job helping our students see all the different ways they can apply the technical skills they learn in our courses.
Your thoughts appreciated.