Like Any Career, STEM Just Takes Practice

STEM is no more challenging than any other industry. By Jamie Barton (Executive Vice President, AEIS – Sales and Service, AT&T Services Inc.) I can vividly remember sitting in my high-school geometry class listening to my teacher explain how to calculate the sides of a right-angled triangle. I found it to be so fascinating. I was always interested in math and science growing up. It started with a natural curiosity to learn. But the more I practiced math and science, the more I liked it. While I enjoyed these subjects in school, I never would’ve guessed 25 years ago that they’d be the cornerstones of my career. A career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) might be intimidating to some, particularly women. But take it from me, it’s no more challenging than any other industry. Like any career, it just takes practice. When I first started my career at AT&T, I was a service representative and didn’t have a clue about telephone-service technology. I built my technical expertise and knowledge through various roles on a network team that allowed me to practice what I learned. I learned first-hand that the longer you do something, the better you get at it. And that includes math and science. For this reason, I challenge you to dispel the myth that you’re either born with the ability to work in STEM fields or not. These three tips will help you do just that.

1. Say Yes to Opportunities

This is one of the best pieces of advice a mentor once told me. I’ve found myself in situations multiple times where I question what I got myself into. But many of my greatest learning moments have come from those experiences. I found a way to say “yes,” and I practiced, practiced, practiced.

2. Show Up

Part of showing up is taking the risk to try something new — something that you may find intimidating at first. You can do it. Take a deep breath, study and practice.     

3. Stay Cool

You don’t instill confidence through uncertainty. Be up front, accessible and poised. And make an impact by collaborating with others and being engaged. In this year alone, my organization will speak to customers over 70 million times.  We’ll use science to better understand them, technology to enhance their experiences, engineering to give them best-in-class services, and math to understand the analytics behind everything we do.  That’s 70 million times we’ll practice. Now what are you waiting for? Get out there and practice, practice, practice!


About the guest blogger: Ms. Barton was named Executive Vice President – Sales and Service, AT&T Entertainment and Internet Services in September 2015. She is responsible for sales and service for all inbound, outbound, door-to-door and indirect sales channels.