The Degree is only a part of the wider picture!

With Science Week only weeks away, we have been catching up with some of the people who will be delivering inspirational STEM career talks to students all around the Midlands this November, including Charlotte Weever, Life Sciences Consultant with Accenture…We spoke to Charlotte about her own career so far and what she would advise young people who are currently considering their career options….

What inspired you to pursue a college course in STEM.

There was no one thing that inspired me to pursue a STEM degree in university. I have always been very passionate about art and design actually (definitely one of my best subjects!). Reflecting back to when I was little, one of my main personality traits was insatiable curiosity about how things worked and why. As I continued through secondary school, I realised that maths and sciences held a lot of very interesting topics to explore and helped answer a lot of questions I had about how the world works. That hunger to learn more plus my interest in art and design led me to pursue engineering. After all, the word ‘engineer’ has roots in the Latin word for ‘to create’- the perfect route for a wannabe curious designer!

Was there a good focus on STEM in your school?

My schools offered the science subjects and even a class in applied maths. My focus was on physics and applied maths primarily, but I spent a lot of time on the internet watching tutorials and other educational videos diving deeper into the concepts we learnt in class. I would encourage anyone who feels like they aren’t satisfied with just their in-person classes to jump online and take a look at all the amazing resources available to students to learn more about STEM – especially if you have an interest in programming.

What led you specifically into Life Sciences consulting?

Ireland boasts a wonderfully strong Life Sciences industry with over 50,000 people directly employed within the industry and six of the top seven diagnostic companies in the world hosting their operations on our shores. I joined consulting out of university because I wanted to focus on sharpening my people skills. It was just by chance I was placed in their Life Sciences division and I have never looked back. I am very lucky to have a job where I can learn something new every day and utilise some of the knowledge around manufacturing I picked up during my course. The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in an exciting new era for life sciences, where markets demands have changed, and products are only becoming more complex. We won’t be short on interesting problems to solve for a long time to come!

What was the most interesting aspect of your third level studies?

The most interesting aspect of my third level studies was discovering brand new subject matters I had no experience with (I’m looking at you fluid mechanics and 3D printing!) and also the opportunity to study abroad in another university or institution. I took every opportunity I could to travel abroad and experience something new through internships or other student programmes. It was an excellent way to make new friends all over the world as well as study in my field of interest. I’d highly recommend that any incoming university student look out for these opportunities and take them!

 

What does the future hold for you career wise in a perfect world post pandemic?

I try not to worry about having a concrete career plan these days. I used to think, while finishing up my studies, that I had to follow a purely technical STEM career because that’s what I studied. I could not have been more wrong. I am enjoying my time in Life Sciences consulting at the moment. I’m discovering that I love working with people from a range of STEM and non-STEM backgrounds as the collaborations are much more creative and engaging. Going forward I will be looking for opportunities that allow to me collaborate like this without hyper focus on only technical activities.

What advice would you give to a young person still at school who is considering a future in science or engineering?

My advice for a young person considering their future in science or engineering is to understand that the degree is only a part of the wider picture. What I mean is that as a developing person coming out of secondary level education, it is easy to assume that all you need to do is get a degree in STEM and that will be enough on your CV to land you a great job. This is not correct. Employers and academic institutions these days want to see that their potential candidates had a balanced experience in university, enjoyed sports or other extracurricular activities, like joining a society. This demonstrates that you understood you are not just represented by a final grade on your exams but you are an individual that will thrive in any environment and will be up for all challenges you face.