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What Can a STEM Ambassador Offer Your Students?

Amanda Soundararaj wasn’t planning a career in construction – and that, she says, is what makes her role as a STEM Ambassador so important...

  • What Can a STEM Ambassador Offer Your Students?

My journey into STEM has been a bit of a random one, but it’s a direction I don’t regret taking.

If you’d told my younger self that I would one day have a successful career in construction with aviation and would drive the length of both runways at Heathrow, I probably would’ve laughed at you.

Having dedicated my younger life and studies to music, construction wasn’t even on my radar. After entering into the world of work, though, I realised that dreams don’t just revolve around your career – life goals matter too.

Media and the music industry are hard to get into and often slow and congested, with poor pay at the beginning. By contrast, construction is inclusive and offers vast opportunities – with great salaries to boot – for all skills and levels.

By becoming a STEM ambassador I can promote what great opportunities construction can offer young people today, even if it’s something they’ve never considered – because it certainly wasn’t what I saw as the career for me at age 16.

Real opportunities

Being a STEM Ambassador is a privilege. Although sometimes it can be challenging, the rewards of interacting with young people, and potentially influencing their future careers and life, are immeasurable.

The dilemma for me is how we demonstrate to the millennial child the lifelong benefits and opportunities the construction industry and STEM can offer.

Construction may not seem particularly glamorous, but it can offer plenty of job satisfaction.

Without construction other industries would not be able to function – you wouldn’t have your buildings or places of work; schools, offices, gyms or shopping centres – yet it’s an industry with some of the biggest skills gaps.

Young people today have so many opportunities, they sometimes just can’t see the wood for the trees and they don’t always see a career in construction as an option, but my colleagues and I are proof that it is.

Inviting STEM Ambassadors into schools provides students with real examples of careers and jobs that they may not even have known existed otherwise.

We want to help you bring the curriculum to life and to show young people that what they’re learning is actually relevant in the ‘real world’, not just the classroom.

Plus, without interacting with STEM Ambassadors how could they know what they could get paid, or what cars they could drive?

Interacting with adults, outside of their teachers, who can show them some of the potential exciting opportunities which are on offer in STEM, and construction, is just one small part. Changing young people’s perception of construction is my ultimate goal.

The pursuit of happiness

STEM Ambassadors want to support schools and teachers in achieving the Department of Education’s Careers Strategy – our aim is quite simply to help influence young people towards successful careers and happy lives.

There is no hidden agenda for us; we just do it for the warm and fuzzy feeling! If we can influence or make a difference in one young person’s life and lead them to a successful STEM career, then the time we invest will have been well worth it.

You never know, they could even end up like me: a successful woman in construction – or better still, they could be my next director.

What is a STEM Ambassador – and why do you need one?

STEM Ambassadors are people from a range of disciplines and backgrounds, including engineers, designers, architects, scientists and technicians, who represent an important, exciting, and free resource for teachers and others engaging with young people inside and out of the classroom.

STEM Learning works with over 30,000 STEM Ambassadors from more than 2,500 different employers. They volunteer their time, enthusiasm and experiences to encourage and inspire young people to progress further in STEM subjects. Through a range of activities, including presentations, mentoring and careers talks, STEM Ambassadors play an essential role in inspiring the next generation with the world of STEM subjects and careers.

Why not invite one into your school, and see what changes? Find out more at stem.org.uk/stem-ambassadors.

Amanda Soundararaj is a proposal manager at Morgan Sindall.

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