15:51 PM

STEM Career Speed Dating Events a Big Hit With Students & Alumni

Perfect matches are made at these gatherings, but it’s not like it sounds. Exciting events are creating the possibility of ideal career matches for STEM students at University of St. Thomas – Houston.

The Career Speed Dating with STEM Alumni events works like traditional speed dating gatherings. STEM students and STEM alumni are randomly paired for 3-5 minute conversations. Then, the students switch to a different alum. The networking continues until all of the students have met with all of the alumni.

STEM Students Love It and It’s Brilliant

UST STEM Success Center Director & Research Manager Amber Miller said, “The feedback we get from participants confirms that this is one of the Center’s most popular happenings. Everyone always wants more time to talk and interact.”

Sure, everyone has fun, but the brilliance is the three goals that are being achieved simultaneously. First, students are exposed to, and invited to explore, careers they may not know much about. Second, with as many as 26 accomplished alumni from various STEM professional fields, students learn straight from the horse’s mouth what they need to do to get where the alumni are. And finally, they get to be inspired by meeting successful people who used to be precisely where they are now.

To date (no pun intended), the University’s STEM Success Center has held four such events — three in person and one virtual.

The Payoffs for Participation

“Students have learned about internships, graduate programs, and made connections for shadowing,” Miller said. “The information they learn from these short interactions is incredible.”

Because of the pandemic environment, the most recent event was held virtually. That had the welcome effect of boosting participation by alumni.

Miller explained, “Going virtual expanded our reach to alumni who want to give back but live outside the Houston area and around the world. We had an alum attend from Singapore and another from Japan. How incredible is that!”

Endorsement from Participating STEM Alumna

Alumnae Jane Stafford Scott, R.Ph., BA ’75 in Biology, an informatics specialist pharmacist at Houston Methodist, has participated twice: once in person and once virtual. She said, “I enjoyed it, and the students were receptive. If they were already locked into a career direction, I encouraged them. For the ones who were going to medical school, I told them that their pharmacist was going to be their best friend.”

The networking fest is held annually but the participant feedback has Miller pondering more.

“The online event was so much fun and enabled alumni from far-off locations to engage, so we may try to do one event each semester, a virtual and an in-person event.”