When you’re starting a career, a STEM degree is a valuable thing to have. Recruiters from all types of industries and universities are interested in people like you. But it’s important to ask more than just, “What can I do?”
The real question is, “What should I do?”
That question can have many meanings: Which skills should I be building early in my career? What kinds of people should I surround myself with? And, perhaps most importantly, what kind of impact can I have on the world around me?
To answer those questions—and many more—here are five reasons you should start your STEM career as a teacher at Success Academy.
1. You have a passion for science or math—and for explaining (aka teaching) them to others.
For STEM majors, the world is different. Science makes sense to you. Math isn’t a mystery. And as you might remember from college or even high school, explaining these concepts to others is a rare talent: one that you may possess.
As one science teacher-turned-Assistant Principal at Success Academy, Kate noted, explaining science to other people can be as intellectually engaging as learning it yourself.
“[While I was teaching at Success Academy], I took a biochem class at NYU because it was the one class missing for medical school, but when I was taking the class, I was constantly thinking to myself, ‘How would I teach this concept to my scholars? How would I break it down, how I would incorporate it into the lesson?’” she says.
That’s when she knew her passion for science education was something she should consider for the long term. It turns out individuals who are passionate about learning STEM might actually be perfect for teaching it.
2. You want to make an immediate impact on the world around you.
“The mission is a huge draw,” Kate says. “Educational equality and opportunity are so important. Immersing yourself in something that is so meaningful makes you more than a teacher. You’re also an advocate for children and trying to change the future for these kids.”
And it’s true. Whether you’re a science teacher or an Assistant Principal like Kate, you’re working to democratize access to education for children in NYC, many of whom live in neighborhoods where schools are abysmally underperforming.
As trained scientists, mathematicians, and engineers, you know that some of the most important jobs in the world often require a lifelong dedication to science, one that starts in elementary school. This is something Denae, another science teacher-turned-school leader at Success Academy, tells us.
“When I was a kid, I only enjoyed science when I had an exceptionally good teacher,” she says. “The scholars at SA have science every day starting in Kindergarten and they LOVE science. We have tons of kids whose favorite subject is science and that’s pretty unique. It makes it really satisfying to teach here. The math is also really rigorous and the kids are great at it—tons of kids love it because it’s taught in a way that is so intellectually engaging.”
As a STEM teacher, you can not only provide children with educational opportunities, but set them up to make their own impact on the world in the future.
3. You want to grow as a communicator and a professional.
No matter what your STEM career ends up being, folks with proven soft skills perform better on the job market, both for individual contributor and management roles. There are few better ways to sharpen your communication skills than teaching—and getting feedback from your school leaders.
“I was lucky to be placed in the classroom with a wonderful lead teacher,” Kate says. “She was an amazing person to learn from—she modeled at such a high level and she was really invested in developing me.”
This level of attentive training and constant feedback not only sharpens your teaching skills, but makes you an effective communicator to both children and adults. It was this same rigorous communication training that propelled Kate, Denae, and so many other Success Academy teachers into leadership roles at the organization.
4. You want to get involved in more than just a job.
As a once (or current) stellar student, you know that teachers aren’t just teachers. They’re leaders, mentors, part-time parents, and coaches. One example of this was Travis. He was a high school biology teacher at a Success Academy school in Manhattan who finds opportunities to build relationships.
“I can’t get over how talented they are in so many different areas,” he said. “I recently got to watch them perform In The Heights, and was blown away by how well Genesis, who’s also a great student, can sing. I was so proud of her watching her up on stage.”
Not only does he connect with students outside the classroom through activities like shooting hoops and chaperoning field trips, but he uses those connections to enhance their classroom experience.
“I know many of my students straighten their hair, so I explained that the reason straightening irons work is because when proteins get hot, they denature,” Travis says. “That got them hooked, and then keeping them engaged throughout the rest of the lesson was easy.”
At Success Academy, being more than just a teacher gives you an opportunity to make invaluable personal connections—and to become a better professional while you’re at it.
5. You want to become a manager and a leader.
Many people think of STEM careers as ones of individual work, but some of the best jobs in STEM are leadership roles. And like many critical skills, leadership is learned by experience. If you aim to be a manager, executive, or chief of something, getting leadership experience as soon as possible is an excellent career move.
Luckily, Success Academy offers the opportunity to do just that. In addition to the rigorous formal training provided to teachers, leaders at Success Academy are constantly grooming the next generation of content leaders, principals, and education policy pioneers.
“When I said I wanted to be an Assistant Principal, my manager worked with me to put together a plan where I would be focused on coaching and developing teachers at my school and at one other Brooklyn school,” Kate says. “I found out this April that I was promoted to Assistant Principal, so I am very excited to be doing that next year.”
Denae also made serious strides in leadership roles, being quickly promoted to a content leadership role, then an Assistant Principal role, and finally into a senior leadership position. And she and Kate are not alone in their swift advancement.
At a rapidly growing organization like Success Academy, the opportunities for you—and the scholars—are truly endless.
Curious about how to start your STEM career strong? Check out open opportunities at Success Academy on WayUp!