Up-and-Coming Careers for Students Interested in Math and Science
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Many of today’s teenagers feel like they’re just treading water, struggling to find meaning in the frantic pace of their daily activities. The pressure to keep up with peers can be overwhelming, and many students may begin to wonder whether the stress is worthwhile.
In his book, The Path To Purpose, Stanford professor William Damon argues that the root cause of our children’s growing anxiety is an endless series of short-term goals. They are expected to perform well on a nonstop string of exams and deadlines that seem to have no relationship with the real world. But we can fix that, Damon argues, by helping our students find a larger sense of purpose, a way to make sense of their lives.
One way to do this is to help children develop a sense of their futures. Parents cannot choose their children’s paths, but adults can offer them insight into careers that align with their interests and abilities.
Parents do this instinctively when children are younger: if Emily loves to put band-aids on her dolls, her mother might suggest that she could become a doctor. But as students get older, they need these suggestions more than ever.
The workplace has become more specialized since parents choose a career, and it’s hard for parents to keep track of new career paths. To help, we interviewed several experts to create a list of up-and-coming careers for students who are interested in math and science.
For students who like Environmental Science: Sustainability Coordinator
Saving the environment through energy conservation is an idea that appeals to everyone. Suzanne Emerson is the proprietor of Emerson Environmental, a company that promotes sustainability by assisting homeowners in choosing and implementing energy efficiency and water conservation maintenance and upgrades. Emerson became interested in green concepts when she was a Girl Scout, and went on to become an environmental lawyer before starting her own company. “Many people are interested in home energy efficiency, in reducing their carbon footprint, and in saving on their utility bills,” said Emerson. “But it is not easy for a homeowner to figure out what the most cost-effective repairs and upgrades are for their home.” Emerson enjoys helping people learn about how their home works, and how they can make it work better while helping to reduce strain on the environment. She sees a strong future for Municipal Sustainability Coordinators, people who help local governments develop and implement greenhouse gas reduction and other sustainability programs.
For students who like Computer Science: Software Engineer
With more and more of our lives revolving around our computers, the demand for software engineers is skyrocketing. Developing the products that drive the Internet can be a fast-paced, exciting career. “I've worked enthusiastically as software engineer at Facebook for over two years and have had some of the coolest experiences of my life here,” says Tom Whitnah. He has had the opportunity to work on many interesting projects, like the Live Feed product used with CNN for President Obama’s inauguration. When I asked Whitnah if he thought that his job would ever be outsourced to China or India, he had a definite opinion: “In a fast-paced company that makes and implements decisions quickly, it's been paramount to have all engineers in the same office. It seems very hard to imagine compartmentalizing the engineering work done here enough to move it offshore. I think the skills learned and applied in engineering will continue to be very applicable in many fields and industries, even if the tech landscape changes significantly.”
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