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    How Did the Pandemic Change STEM Careers?

    Posted March 14, 2022, 1:00 pm by Rachel Sokol
    Young woman in lab coat and safety goggled holds a dropper

    This article was originally published as part of TeenLife's Guide to Your Future in STEM. To learn more about STEM careers and how to chart your future in the field, download the free guide today. 

    STEM Careers After COVID-19

    While some fields have seen a slowing of job growth in the last couple of years, STEM careers are more in demand than ever. Attracting innovative problem-solvers with a knack for research and attention to detail, jobs in this sector will always be hiring eager employees, even during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

    “The pandemic has changed STEM in very powerful ways,” says USC Professor Christopher Emdin, Ph.D. “It’s revealed the need for STEM workers that will be at the forefront of addressing health pandemics, climate change, and infrastructure issues.” 

    Are you looking forward to a career in STEM yourself? We interviewed industry experts on the current state of the STEM industry, what’s changed since the pandemic, and how students can transition their interest in science and technology from the classroom to the lab room. 

    Here’s three ways that the pandemic has changed STEM careers for good! 

    Multidisciplinary Collaboration

    Katie Burns, College Admissions Counselor at IvyWise LLC, says that one of the biggest changes to the STEM world after the pandemic is the way in which individuals and industries are coming together and collaborating to find new and innovative solutions. 

    While this has always been the case for many STEM fields, COVID-19 has reminded everyone in the field that a multidisciplinary approach is vital to finding successful solutions. 

    “The pandemic itself is a great example,” Burns says. “While inherently a medical problem, individuals in industries across the STEM fields and beyond have come together to tackle everything from supply chain issues and vaccine scheduling to rethinking K-12 education and inequality in access to technological resources.” 

    This cross-disciplinary approach is only growing more popular too. It makes sense: as the problems of our world get bigger and more interconnected, it will take experts of all specialties to help solve them. Are you ready to join the team? 

    Students looking to start their own STEM careers can begin learning this vital skill by collaborating at home. Burns advises them to first start small.

     “Look for problems and issues that you can tackle in your local community that you can use a multidisciplinary approach to solve.” 

    STEM Careers Shift to Remote Work 

    While the remote working revolution brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic was felt across all industries, the changes to STEM were quite dependent on one’s actual position.  

    “Most scientists that work in the lab and field will not see big changes in their jobs,” says Megan Seifert, Ph.D., Headwater Science Institute. This makes sense of course – it’s hard to work with disease samples or observe animals in the wild from behind a computer screen. 

    However, there’s a growing number of STEM workers that, now that they’ve gone remote, don’t seem to be rushing back to the office. 

    “Those working in math, programming, and data science are seeing more opportunities to work from home,” says Seifert.

    Raymond Yan, Senior Executive Vice President,  DigiPen Institute of Technology, notes that the video game industry — a field which employs a growing number of engineers, coders and computer scientists — is also seeing this trend. 

    I feel the pandemic forced many game companies to recognize--and even value--the possibility to have development teams work remotely. Looking at the indie game development community, it’s now not unusual to see many small projects being developed by individuals who are all remotely connected, and not working in person.”

    New Education Opportunities

    High-quality educational STEM content has existed on the Internet for years now. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has all but ensured the fact that online resources will continue to be a great place to start looking if you’re considering a career in STEM. 

    With all sorts of virtual STEM learning opportunities out there it’s easier than ever before for students interested in STEM disciplines to get a jump start on their career. 

    “Individuals should certainly review content available on the web whether it's on YouTube or in an online course,” said Yan, when asked what a student can do to best prepare for a career in STEM. 

    With all of these students entering the field equipped with more knowledge than any generation of STEM professionals before them, it's all but certain that the industry will grow even more competitive than it already is. 

    However, since the demand for STEM jobs is at an all time high, it’s likely that there will be opportunities for any student dedicated enough to look for them. 

    “STEM is the fastest-growing field and the pandemic has not slowed it down,” says Seifert. Are you ready to start exploring STEM careers today? 

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    Rachel Sokol

    Rachel Sokol

    A NY-based writer, Rachel Sokol has contributed to TODAY Parents, SHAPE, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, Univision, FamilyEducation, Mom.com, and more. She has a degree in magazine journalism from Emerson College, was a higher education writer in Manhattan for 8 years, and has two children.