I found your blog while doing some research into careers in the sciences for my [child.] My [child] is a senior in high school, and has really enjoyed and excelled at biology, chemistry and physics.
[They] wants to major in college in some sort of science, and is leaning towards chemistry or biochemistry. But what I keep finding in my research is how difficult the job market is for scientists. We keep hearing in the media, from the government and from our schools that the US needs more kids to major in STEM fields. Our school district just opened our third high school, specifically for STEM students.
I wonder if you could address in your blog why it is that we are encouraging more kids to go into STEM majors, while the reality of the job market seems to indicate not enough jobs for our current scientists?Here was my partial response:
...The answer to your question is that there's quite a difference between the need for more STEM training for K-12 students, and a need for more scientists/engineers/mathematicians. My standard answer is that we do not need more scientists; what we really need is more computer types, because that's where the projected job growth is supposed to be. (And, deep down, that's where everyone knows the jobs of the future are. If you look at your district's new high school, I suspect that it will be IT heavy.)
(There is also the "we need more people to think like scientists" idea, which is usually what scientists mean when they agree with "more STEM training.")
I think that no one (i.e. no politician) wants to say "We need more computer programmers, and more petroleum engineers", because it's not very sexy nor exciting. But if you say, "we need more cancer and Alzheimer's researchers", it gets people excited and it gets juices flowing in a way that no one can accomplish with the more complex truth.Also, the parent wanted to know how to get their child involved in academic or industrial internships. There are a variety of sources for these positions:
- Look online for local area companies/universities -- sometimes, they'll post listings.
- Talk to your high schooler's science teachers; they may know of openings or organizations that look for summer students annually. (It's how I got my first two science internships.) Ask them to look, or ask their contacts.
- Talk to science-related organizations (local American Chemical Society chapter, science museum, etc.)
- It's a shot in the dark, but you could always cold call/cold e-mail local universities to see if there are professors who might be willing to take on a summer student.