The phrase “STEM career” is a vague term that actually represents an exciting array of jobs. For STEM month, we at Girl Scouts of Central Maryland would like to introduce you to several women who work in STEM fields. They will tell you in their own words why STEM careers are the best!
Engineering Analyst at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL)
Education History: BA Mathematical Sciences, University of Delaware, currently working towards Masters in Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University
What do you do?
I currently am a member of a large team that acts as a trusted, impartial third party to evaluate new technologies for our nation’s submarine sonar and combat systems. I use my mathematics background to measure the system’s algorithms and interfaces, and also program in Matlab to handle the very large amounts of data that we have available.
How did you know that this is what you wanted to do?
I have always been passionate about math, but I was unsure what career I wanted to ultimately end up in. Still, I majored in Mathematics in college knowing that I was pursuing a degree that I enjoyed and that I’d eventually settle into a career. By working various jobs and internships, I learned what I liked and what I didn’t like, which caused me to apply for a position with my current employer that fits my needs.
What is a typical day like at your job?
E-mail, team meetings, Matlab programming, creating internal briefs for team members, and creating external briefs for our sponsor. I collaborate with team members every day, but also coordinate with external companies who work with my team on this project.
What is the best part of your job?
We do a lot of peer review. That’s when members of our team offer constructive criticism on one another’s analyses to share viewpoints, analysis methods, and improve the final analysis product, which is to the benefit of all involved.
What is the most surprising thing that you have discovered about your field?
Sharing findings is key, and I have been pleasantly surprised to find that people are constantly sharing their results and methodology for the good of the field.
What did you have to learn in order to do what you do?
Working knowledge of several computer languages (Computer Science minor), Mathematics/statistics background to aid with solving problems of an analytical nature, written and verbal communication skills in order to convey one’s findings to peers and sponsors.
What is one piece of advice you would give to girls about careers in STEM?
Talk to as many people as you can about what they do. The folks actually doing the work are the best resource to learn about a particular career and workplace versus a job description or company website.
What is something girls should know about STEM?
As a female who has been involved in STEM for a large part of her life, I feel that participating and being successful in STEM has given me the confidence and flexibility to pursue just about any field that suits my interests. I have also met some of my best friends by working and studying in STEM fields!
Were you a Girl Scout?