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Phaedra Boinodiris is dedicated to the mission of STEM and inclusivity in her community. She is particularly passionate about AI and Ethics. We chatted with her about the challenges that young students in STEM face today and her advice on how to overcome them. Phaedra shares, “As an advocate for STEM and AI education, I talk to a lot of young people who are keen on pursuing a career in the field. Many of them are passionate about social impact and wonder whether pursuing a career in STEM can help them make inroads into Social Justice, Gender Equity, Economic Equity, Climate Action, and more.”
Here are simple actions you can start today if you want to jumpstart your career in STEM.
Build your personal brand.
Young professionals need to find their voices quickly and devote their energy to building their personal brand. Building a personal brand does NOT mean tweeting what you ate for breakfast. Instead, it is about explaining to the world why you care about the things that you do in a succinct way so that people remember you for your path. This also serves as your personal compass for when you are trying to decide where to devote your resources.
Imagine your personal brand as a “plumb line” that connects straight down from your head, through your heart, down to an intricate set of roots that keep you grounded. Young professionals should not be content to live and grow and work in a bubble. GET OUT THERE. Half the effort is just showing up. Join boards, speak at schools and conferences, mentor kids in high school, volunteer at events like “Kids Code” at your local museum, judge tech competitions! I cannot say it enough: “Get out there.”
Oh, and when you have kids of your own, bring them along. Expose them to what you do, what you think, what you care about. It will make all the difference in the world.
Join forces with others – there’s strength in numbers
Join forces with others who are like-minded and have strong positive energy. It is easy to get derailed by a colleague, by a boss, the wrong job position, or even a well-meaning conversation gone astray. Renew your energy with your own advisory board of like-minded people.
Remember who you are, what intrinsically motivates you, and what you care about. Stick with devoting energy to efforts that build on your personal brand. When you need to pivot, then pivot. Always make NEW mistakes. Your trusted board will help guide you.
Stop thinking things need to be perfect in order to make an impact.
Passionate young professionals oftentimes feel that they need to find the perfect job within the perfect industry to make positive social impact in the world. This could not be farther from the truth. There are so many ways in which people can bring about positive change, but they first have to acknowledge that they do not need anyone’s permission to do so.
Start giving back right now!
Young professionals can contribute, give back, volunteer, mentor RIGHT NOW. Not after they become a highly paid Vice President with a stack of published books and the CEO’s ‘seal of approval’ – do it right *now.*
Giving back your time, wisdom, stories, and experiences will bring back so much good karma, network connections, and goodwill. This makes a tremendous impact on others, so in essence your energy scales exponentially the more you share.
About the Author
Phaedra Boinodiris is a prolific public speaker and author. She is on the IBM Academy of Technology’s leadership council, a Fellow of the RSA, and serves on the advisory boards of several academic institutions. She is currently pursuing a PhD in AI and Ethics thanks to the European Union. Most recently Phaedra received the 2019 Women of Influence award by the United Nations for her work on impacting equity in IBM.