STEAM Careers and COVID-19 - Tawny Hawthorne

I think we can all agree that no one is a fan of COVID-19. As a high school senior, COVID-19 pretty much ruined my plans for my final days of senior year, and I think many people can attest to this. From preparing college applications, securing letters of recommendation, and keeping grades up, seniors have put in tons of work to get where they want to go.

All of this makes me wonder about our futures. What are we going to do if going to school or having a job is never the same? How will technology evolve? Will the push to be a doctor kick the STEAM push off of the pedestal?

These last ten years have seen a considerable rise in the number of students interested in pursuing a career in STEAM. In my high school alone, there are now several computer science, engineering, and design classes. In Chicago Public Schools, it is a graduation requirement to take at least one technology or engineering class during high school. Many other schools across the country have also implemented new ways to introduce students to career fields in STEAM. Now that COVID-19 has exploded into a social and economic disaster, will we see a stronger push for students to consider careers in medicine and pharmaceuticals? Will the abbreviation for STEAM receive additional letters? As we try to adjust to this new normal, we must also consider how we will use this experience to impact the world around us, even after the pandemic.

As we adapt to this new normal, we must also improve the education system in the United States. Career exploration should start in elementary school and continue into a student’s first year of college in all higher education institutions across the country. If we begin to break it down, on average, a college student changes their major three times throughout their college career. Many times this is because they found information about a career they didn’t know about before. So, what if students were able to explore these careers beforehand? Would we see a spike in STEAM careers? Would we see a spike in medical fields? Would it be the spike that the world desperately needs right now?

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