Posts Tagged ‘alum’

If I were to do it again… career advice from a STEM grad

Monday, January 18th, 2010

This week, we have a post from a guest blogger. Nicholas Lloyd, 27, is a graduate of Worcester Polytechnical Institute who lives in Ashland, Mass. He currently works as a software engineer, but, as he explains below, he came to college interested in biology. Here he describes how he used networking and internships to find a career he truly loves.

For the past few years now I have been working as a software engineer. I am very happy on this path, but it was not the first that I chose for myself. I first studied and even got a degree in biology, with aspirations of working in a lab for a pharmaceutical company.

When I was first looking for colleges, I honestly wasn’t thinking about what would happen after. I knew what I was interested in — biology, at the time — and I wanted a school with a solid program that also felt like a good fit for me.

But towards the end of my freshman year, the real world didn’t seem so far away. I started thinking more about what I would actually do afterwards, particularly as I searched for summer internships. I came to the rather startling realization that I really didn’t know what a biologist or biotech professional actually did.

To find out, that summer I managed to get an internship at a biotech start-up doing computational biology: basically, using computer programming to help the scientists with their work in the lab. That internship helped me in two different ways: it was the foundation that helped me get internships later on, and it showed me that there was more to biotech then just “working in a lab.”

In fact, doing internships probably helped me the most of all I did in my career exploration. Since they usually give you a taste of what is to come, they are a great way to help you land that first job after college. My college career center was a fantastic way to find internships, and as I discovered, it never hurts to use any networking resources you have, including your family.

Looking back, I wish I looked more closely at what kind of jobs would interest me as early as high school. I knew what subjects interested me, but I found out much later that most of the opportunities in that area were far from what I wanted to do. On top of that, it took me a while before I knew what questions to ask, and even longer to figure out WHERE I could find the answers.

Knowing the right questions, asking around to find the right people, and getting as much experience as you can before graduating — either high school or college — can help immensely to find the direction you want to go. Take the time now; it can make a difference!