Your Ultimate Guide to Careers & College Pathways for STEM Enthusiasts

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College counselors, parents, and students alike are excited about the future of STEM. But what does that future look like? 

AI? UX? Blockchain? Translation, please? 

Translating the latest STEM trends and terminology is a lot easier said than done. Don’t worry: we’re here to help! In this ultimate guide, we’ll decode and demystify the world of STEM and help guide your student towards their dream colleges and career pathways. 

Last week, iD Tech attended the Independent Educational Consultants Association Conference, and we’re thrilled to report back on our exciting conversations about what the future of tech holds and how teens can prepare for it. That means looking at the big picture beyond VR headsets and examining the real, versatile potential behind the buzzwords.

We all want to see teens succeed, and in a tech-driven era, it can feel like you need a whole new vocabulary to help them do that. Industries and college studies centered on gaming, ecommerce, streaming, esports, and much more are changing and growing rapidly. Just look at the best STEM careers of 2022: it’s a whole new world of opportunity and innovation out there. It’s exciting, but it can be a challenge keeping up with it all! 

Especially when it comes to transforming a favorite techie hobby to a potential career, it helps to know the ins and outs of the latest tech and how it translates to growing fields. From STEM college counseling to navigating the application process and exploring career paths, we’ve got the resources and expertise to help.

How to launch careers & college majors in STEM and beyond

Let’s take a closer look at how your teen’s favorite video game, YouTube channel, or coding hack can translate to the best high school classes for STEM majors, internships, future careers, and more. 

We know: it’s a lot to take in! Whether you’re currently navigating the college application process or just looking to talk with your teen about their interests, it’s useful to have a starting point. 

Granted, nothing in this infographic is set in stone or meant to be prescriptive: there is plenty of interconnectivity and room to explore within all of these fields. But to help parents and college counselors jump in, here’s a breakdown of some of today’s most popular tech and how it can open a world of possibilities. 

Of course: you’ve got to know the lingo before starting that conversation. Here are a few handy cheat sheets to help those not fluent in gaming, coding, or the latest tech:

And now that you’ve got some background: we’ll walk through each of the specific pathways above. 

Cryptocurrency

Blockchain to bitcoin to dogecoin: cryptocurrency is taking the world by storm. And while it may be relatively new on the finance scene, it’s at the cutting edge of very real drivers to the economy. 

So, if your teen is curious about how these new currencies work, their curiosity can translate to careers in economics, math, and the many means of understanding everything from the stock market to how to run their own successful business. 

Social media 

Is it a distraction or a platform for limitless creativity? It depends on how teens engage with social media! With the right background knowledge and a healthy dose of critical thinking, teens can learn to not just scroll mindlessly through their feeds, but to create share-worthy content and attention-grabbing graphic design.

Majors in marketing, design, communications, and psychology - just to name a few - await those who are passionate about using social media to send a message. Talk with your teen about where their strengths and interests lie, and you can help point them in a direction that’s right for them.

Esports

The world of competitive gaming is so much more than playing video games. In addition to being tremendously beneficial for teens, the business of esports is powered by the many career paths that make this multi-billion dollar industry tick. According to Mark Deppe, Director of UCI Esports, professional-level gaming is just the start: teams need managers, marketing teams, operations coordinators, and coaches. 

So, if your teen is interested in esports, encourage them to develop a diverse skill set. As Mark told us during a recent discussion of the future of esports, teamwork and communication matter just as much as technical acumen. Read more here.

Business & entrepreneurship

Yes, teens can absolutely succeed as entrepreneurs. But where does a young person begin building a brand or launching a business? This is exactly the sort of question you should ask your teen if they’re interested in exploring entrepreneurship, because no, they don’t have to wait until after high school or college.

If your teen has ideas and opinions for how their favorite games or products could be improved, that idea could just become the next big thing. And with the right coaching, they can get their idea off the ground in a major way. From there, studies in economics, marketing, business, and communications await.

Gaming

If your child loves video games, they need to learn to code, right?

Not necessarily! Careers in the gaming industry are varied and encompass a wide range of skill sets.

As we learned from Aspen Clark, Quest Designer at Bethesda Game Studios, “Game developers come from all kinds of backgrounds. The guy that I work for has a master's degree in poetry, and he is a senior game designer.”

Look no further than the illustration above as proof of the truth of her words. The gaming industry is comprised of more than just programmers, though they play an absolutely vital role: it’s comprised of writers, artists, project managers, and many, many more types of professionals. 

She encourages parents and teens to think about it this way, “Every single thing that you see or do in a game is created by somebody. Everything from the piece of paper that you pick up, to the fact that you didn't even pick up that paper, to the way that your screen looks while you're picking it up the camera that follows you around.” 

So, parents and college counselors should talk with teens about the multitude of possibilities open to them, the better to find their student’s “superpower” that can launch a dream career. 

Get more expert advice and resources

We get it: the college application process is a major undertaking. And making sure your teen is ready to show their strengths in their best possible light takes careful planning.

Check out our blog for more tips and tricks on everything from college essay writing to asking the right questions on a campus tour and much more. 

A photo of Virginia

Virginia started with iD Tech at the University of Denver in 2015 and has loved every minute since then! A former teacher by trade, she has a master's in education and loves working to embolden the next generation through STEM. Outside the office, you can usually find her reading a good book, struggling on a yoga mat, or exploring the Rocky Mountains. 

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