Two Unique Careers Bridged by the “M” in STEM
By: Stephanie Barker, Director of Information Technology
Much like what Ali Ishaq spoke to last week on the blog, my career path to Jabil also was not direct, as my previous work life was in Tampa’s public school system. How did I find my way to Jabil’s Information Technology department then? Surprisingly, I found there to be a lot of overlap in the skills needed in both the Education and Manufacturing industries.
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is applicable to many career fields, and it’s often not an immediate connection in people’s minds. For example, I started my career as a teacher for students with learning disabilities because I always had an interest in the psychology of behaviors and understanding how people learn. Then, I progressed to the role of vice principal where I led an elementary school through change based on data-driven decision making and financial management.
After 17 years in the school system, a close friend and Jabil proponent sensed I was ready for change and helped me realize my skills and knack for data-driven changes would serve me well as a project manager. I was always proficient with technology, having an innate passion for innovation, and that’s when I came to Jabil and saw firsthand how STEM is truly everywhere, especially in manufacturing.
I transitioned my project management skills and simply switched my focus from organizing school directives for students to driving progressive, futuristic organizational change through IT and operations for employees. The commonality is using data to make decisions, drive tasks and processes around the change, and manage the human behavior around those changes.
In other words, the similarity between my careers was the ‘math’ portion of STEM.
In education, we used data and scientific methods to solve issues like raising the bottom quartile of reading scores and understanding what programs or tests were successful in schools; whereas at Jabil, we use data to correct quality and efficiency problems on the manufacturing floor and with products we produce. Data is something that can be found in almost any profession, and STEM can’t exist without data and analytical skills.
Math tends to be the forgotten STEM subject, and I think it’s important schools and companies alike focus efforts on supporting the field because big data, statistics and understanding trends are crucial to every industry, every company and almost every job.
In my experience, I’ve noticed that often times students don’t get to see the connection between math and how it’s used in the ‘real world.’ It’s great that Jabil supports local high school robotics teams across the country and organizes Tech Tuesdays at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital to teach the young patients to the wonders STEM.
We all need to work together to continue to uncover the fascinating aspects of math, so students can see all the possibilities out there waiting for them in the workforce, whether it’s in education, manufacturing or something else entirely different!