Since I was little, I have been fascinated with figuring out how the world works, and I found throughout my time in school that science was the way to satisfy my interests. Since beginning college, I have been debating on what to pursue after I earn my degree. Should I go to graduate school to earn an advanced degree or should I find a job right out of college? Before Women in STEM Policy, I didn’t really have an opinion. I thought that I would just figure it out at the end of my junior year and during senior year. However, after attending the PLEN seminar, I made up my mind.
After a week of listening and talking to inspiring women, I learned more about STEM and STEM policy than I think I would have any other way. Not only were the speakers and presenters amazing, the other students that attended PLEN were also helpful. I heard from a variety of women from different schools, different backgrounds, different majors, different areas of interests, and different career goals. My fellow peers and the panelists taught me that not only are there a wide variety of career options in the STEM and STEM policy fields, but there is also a variety of ways to achieve your goals. Some of the panelists received their doctorate degrees, but then decided that they were no longer interested in pursuing that path, and they became interested in the massive field of STEM policy. Although they were no longer directly doing research, they said that in no way was earning their doctorates a waste of time. They learned invaluable skills that they use every day in their current jobs. From their experiences and advice, I learned that it is okay to change your mind so you have a career that inspires you and makes you feel like you are making a difference.
Looking back on the seminar, I am extremely grateful that I was able to attend. I learned a lot about myself, my goals, and how to accomplish those goals. I have now realized that I want to pursue an advanced degree and continue learning about computer science, an interest that I have had for many years.
Alana Belkevich attended the 2017 Women in STEM Policy seminar during her junior year at St. Lawrence University. She attended this seminar with a scholarship sponsored by the Hopper Dean Foundation.