I’m currently working as a Quality Engineering Manager SDET Lead at ApplyBoard in Kitchener-Waterloo. I’ve always enjoyed my time in the STEM industry and I recommend the field of Science, Technology Engineering and Math to everyone I meet.
Why? Because STEM is a huge part of our everyday lives and it will only get bigger.
I think it’s so important to get children inspired to build and construct at an early age. It’s critical to take risks, develop new ways of thinking and approach the developmental stages of childhood.
STEM is all about problem solving and the more perspectives we bring to the table, the stronger and more innovative we will be. The more we fuel and inspire children at an early age, the more prosperous our future will be.
I’ve worked in STEM for over 17 years and have learned a lot so far. I wanted to take this moment to share a couple of reflections and insights about the industry so far.
STEM Careers Are On The Rise
STEM positions will only get more popular, more in demand and frankly, more exciting to work in! Since ApplyBoard specializes in helping international students obtain access to international education, we’re always keeping our fingers on the pulse of the most in-demand careers and industries to work in.
Our research shows that IT and computing passed applied and general science as the second most popular field of study in Canada for new international students in 2019. And in 2020, three of the top 10 Canadian university programs for ApplyBoard students were in IT and computing. We also saw similar trends throughout other countries as well which means that there’s strong career stability and opportunities provided by enrolling in a computing or IT education program.
Women in STEM
I always encourage women that I mentor to be more confident when applying for jobs. If the job description looks too tricky or like it’s outside of your comfort zone that doesn’t mean that you should doubt yourself and not apply. I always remind younger applicants that they can learn quickly on the job and that there’s no need to be intimidated. Connecting with other women and networking early on in your career helps. I have had several women in my life as a manager and that has inspired me in my career. We have great clubs here at ApplyBoard too. I joined the ApplyBoard Women Network where we hold workshops on how to be more confident and how to get your point across and delivered in meetings. It’s important to have more conversations just like this and break any misconceptions.
Levelling the playing field
A recent post on ApplyBoard’s blog covered how Canadian universities can support more young women to pursue careers in STEM and highlights the need for gender diversity on Canadian campuses. One of the biggest takeaways for me was the fact that girls’ school graduates are six times more likely to consider majoring in math, science, and technology than girls who attended co-ed schools and 80% of girls school graduates have held leadership positions since graduating from high school. Young women deserve more role models to look up to in order to be inspired, encouraged and motivated to enter into STEM.
I think there are several ways the industry can adapt and change in order to help promote STEM to women and increase enrolment among women. Creating more scholarships or programs tailored to women applying for STEM-related fields is a great first step for institutions to consider. Schools of all types should also encourage more women to pursue careers in those sectors by holding more informative sessions and tutorials with women leaders or alumni sharing their career journeys and experiences.
Passion Drives Career Happiness
We are all treated as equal workers at ApplyBoard, I feel strongly valued and supported. ApplyBoard is very open and great at communication. You can talk to anyone no matter their title or status in the company. One tip to new prospective students looking for a career in STEM I often give is that it’s important to work for a cause and a company that you deeply care about. It’s also refreshing to work for a company that is tied to such an important cause: improving global access to education around the world.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without my education and it’s incredibly valuable to help others around the world. This mission to educate the world is a big motivator and driver for me.
Xeniya Shirinova is a Quality Engineering Manager SDET Lead at ApplyBoard.