We often talk about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) with our elementary school students. It’s not too early to get them thinking about future careers. STEM provides students with career-launching skills that allow them to be flexible, persistent, data-driven, creative, and team-oriented.
While recruiters seek the next generation of students who can bring STEM skills as the solution, they are looking for something more. We should be talking about Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM), too.
What do STEAM skills do for students?
STEAM helps students develop soft skills. These talents and abilities give the next generation of leaders an edge in the workforce. From computational thinking and critical thinking to communication and leadership, these skills set students up for success in STEAM jobs.
Computational thinking is one of the strongest skills our STEAM-educated students can bring to the table. The four-part process teaches students how to take complex, complicated problems and develop step-by-step solutions. These are essential skills for the jobs of the future! Students move through decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithms. Your elementary students can do this, too. Now is the time to create moments to show computational thinking in action, and start the conversations about their future careers.
One of the best ways to get your students thinking about their future careers is by allowing them to see people thriving in the STEAM field. Invite guest speakers to talk about their careers — and how they found their passion to facilitate career awareness and exploration. Provide time for a question-and-answer session, so students see how every part of STEAM shows up at work. It looks different for each career, which can be exciting for students.
Do STEAM jobs exist in all areas??
Oh, yes — there are plenty. We’re just not talking about these opportunities enough. As we discuss future careers with our elementary school students, we should remind them of the many STEAM jobs that exist. Bringing in speakers can also open other doors for career exploration in elementary schools, including future apprenticeships and internships. One of the best ways to discover a passion — or rule one out — is to try it. Encourage your students to explore STEAM jobs early. These career awareness opportunities are not just for students in higher education.
Below is a starting STEAM jobs list. We encourage you to share these possibilities with students when discussing future careers. As you walk through the options, challenge your students to find how they could use the “A” in these careers. The creative exercise allows students to remove the rigid view of what an “arts job” looks like in today’s workforce and focus on the jobs of the future.
Anthropologist and Archeologist
Business Intelligence Analyst
Mechanical & Civil Engineer
Video Game Designer
Web and Digital Interface Designer
Zoologist and Wildlife Biologist
Shaunda Douglas is a former educator with over 15 years of experience in all levels of education. In her free time, she reads, plays with her dogs, watches baseball, and loves a good nap.