Creating Innovative Career Programming with STEM Faculty – Steve Iona

When Physics Professor Steve Iona met with the Career & Professional Development team last fall, he asked if other DU students were struggling with connecting their classroom experience to the world of work?  Steve noticed that STEM students are sometimes at a bit of a disadvantage when seeking internships and full time employment as many of the open positions do not have a job title that the STEM majors can relate too.  Many STEM related job titles and descriptions often do not clearly state the work they would be performing so students do not think there are many opportunities specifically for them.  These majors also tend to be a bit more introverted.  Steve realized, there needed to be a bridge along the way for students to develop basic networking skills as it can be a big and scary leap to attend a career fair before learning how to network with future employers.
As our conversation progressed, we began collaborating together to see what type of workshop/program we could create for STEM majors that could help them learn to ask the right questions and promote the skills that they are learning in the classroom that would impress employers. STEM students do learn very valuable workplace skills through coursework such as analytical, oral and written communication, research, and critical thinking skills.  So how do we help students articulate these skills in a fun, non-threatening approach that will help them be more confident and prepared when attending career fairs and in the interview process?  We immediately thought that the DU alumni working in the STEM industry could be a very easy solution to this career development challenge.  What better way for students to learn more about careers in STEM then from a seasoned Pioneer!
In partnership with the DU Alumni Relations team, we invited 12 alumni who worked in the STEM industry in a variety of roles for an evening of networking and fun with a speed networking format. The event attracted enough students that each alumnus was partnered with two to three students. Students met each alumnus for five minutes and practiced introducing themselves in a professional manner, asked questions regarding career paths, and learned that networking is not so scary after all!  The students and alumni were also surprised by a visit from Dean Andrei Kutateladze.
If you are a DU faculty member and would like to partner with Career & Professional Development on career development programming, please reach out to us at