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Choosing the right STEM career
Finding the right STEM career for you is so important, as the correct speciality will bring years of fulfilment. Jenny Navan is an Associate Director with CPL recruitment and gives some interesting career advice.

Are there many good career opportunities in STEM for graduates right now?

There is a huge amount of options depending on the route you want to go down. STEM is so broad these days, so it can fall under tech and IT or Science and Engineering. From a recruitment agency point of view, we don’t see a huge amount of graduate level jobs but we tend to see them 2 years down the tracks because companies tend to do the graduate hiring themselves. They go out to colleges on open days and interns will be chosen. It’s back in second or third year that your career starts taking shape, so it’s balancing out the need to travel and go off to do a J1 with getting good work experience. Going back a step earlier and when choosing college courses, it’s worth asking is there work experience involved in the course and will they help facilitate it. Do they have partnership within industry because without those initial doors being opened for you, it can be hard to get into those jobs. There are a lot of graduate opportunities for those who have gone through that but for those that don’t, don’t despair, you will find something, it just might not be as straightforward. It’s really important when you come out of college to think, this first job isn’t a job for life, it’s my step on the ladder and I’m building my skills.


Are interns usually kept on?

We would see a lot getting kept on and it depends on the impact you’ve made. We’re in a growth phase and all companies are hiring and growing and they need to bring in people with no experience to come behind all the people who do have experience. They’ll go back to people that they liked and got on with as a first port of call. It’s very hard to differentiate sometimes but if you’ve met someone in internship and have liked them, that’s a huge part of the hiring criteria. 60% of the class might be coming out with a 2:1 and all have similar profiles , so fitting in gives you a massive boost.


Is subject choice important?

Maths is the number one thing, for example in our own organisation we invested heavily in a lot of AI tools. A lot of those tools and the work they’ve been doing is already obsolete, as they move on so quickly. The fundamentals is all based on Maths and algorithms and it’s the same for all of STEM when you get to third level, they all have a premise in Maths. It’s a challenge because Maths and how it is taught at second level doesn’t always translate into third level but if you have Hons Maths, the success rate is higher in the second and third year of college. If you haven’t studied STEM, don’t write off a career in it either, there are ways and means around it.


What are the benefits of a career in STEM?

You have a lot of different opportunities; things evolve and change and you’re always learning something new which keeps things fresh. There are also a lot of creative and entrepreneurial opportunities. There is the opportunity to travel and the skills you gain in Ireland translate anywhere in the world and many companies based here are multinational, so within your company there may be opportunities to transfer and work abroad, for example I am placing people in the Bahamas at the moment. It’s a well-paid industry with good benefits. It’s not all about working in a lab, there’s a huge variety of things you can do. An Engineering degree is one of the most placeable in all industries and an overwhelming number of CEOs and COOs have an Engineering degree; it translates so well.


How best can you prepare for a job interview?

You should research the company and know what they do, understand their core values and ethos and know the product. You need to prove you want to work for them, even if it’s just a six month contract. Understand the job description. You will get training and support but you must show you are eager to learn. Ultimately they want to see you will fit into their company but you won’t fit into every company. That can be a hard lesson to learn but it’s important it’s the right fit for them and you. It will never be a happy relationship otherwise.