The Full Guide
Welcome to FRC 2151's Full Guide to start getting involved as a high school STEM student! I am Estrella Popoca, FRC 2151's Co-Captain. I will be sharing with you today the steps that I have taken to be more involved in the STEM field, and have access to remote opportunities that I otherwise wouldn't have known about. Through being involved, I have made many new connections with other girls and students on other FRC teams, and many new mentors, and I hope that you are able to find the same!
My name is Estrella Popoca, and I am from the high school class of 2021. I plan to study Aerospace Engineering or Computer Science and Astronomy. I personally look for opportunities involving Computer Science, Girls in Tech, and Astronomy/Physics related mentorship programs. It's important to decide what specifically you are interested in, and what to look for when looking for specific opportunities that align with your own passions and goals. 😊✨
1. Establish your Presence
Making sure you are known to your community is super important! I suggest by creating a linked-in page! This helps you showcase what your experiences have been, and most importantly, build connections with alumni from your school, your previous jobs, mentors, and new friends you have made along the way! Make sure to list all the clubs you are in at school, and what other programs you have been involved in from your school as well. Keep this profile updated as much as you can!
I personally have my linkedin profile, and a one-page website I made to not only showcase my previous jobs, but some of my creative work I have done that I am most proud of.
You can visit my own webpage here if you are interested!
2. Join Clubs and Programs at School
As I am sure many of you are doing this already, take into consideration the math and science clubs at your school! Join your FRC team, your science club, coding club, or anything you'd like! Also, don't forget about humanities clubs as well! Joining Yearbook or newspaper club allows for you to advocate for certain STEM topics you are passionate about! These are clubs I am very active in as well.
A common mistake: Don't overwork yourself! Too many commitments can lead to lack of effort for all of your extracurriculars. As this has been repeated multiple times, Do not only participate to make it look good on a college application! join groups and projects because YOU are passionate about them!
3. Join Not-for-profit Organizations
As I started getting more involved in the STEM community, I soon realized that I would need to go beyond my school programs to be as invested and involved as I wanted to be. I soon discovered the world of student-led non-profit organizations. These can mostly be found on Instagram, and there are hundreds of them for any high school/college student to join. They also offer leadership positions for you to take advantage of and take initiative in! These are some of the following organizations I have joined, and some of which are officially 501(c)(3)'s !!
Some of these organizations not only aim to provide awareness for STEM, but provide opportunities to work in groups and teams with other like-minded students! I have had the chance with Reinvented Magazine to work with graphic design, as that is also one of my interests, and with STEMchats, I have helped create a student curriculum for teaching Middle School students. These organizations go beyond the normal school clubs, and allow for you to use your other talents for the same common goal.
4. Apply to Local Internship, Research, and Mentorship Opportunities
The next step is to RESEARCH! Research constantly for Internship opportunities at companies or universities you would like to be a part of, or simply just around your city. As someone who is from Chicago, I have found that the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign along with the University of Illinois at Chicao has great STEM summer programs. Places like planetariums and museums have great opportunities as well!
I applied and was accepted into the Northwestern CIERRA Astronomy Research program for the summer of 2020, and I will have the chance to work with many professors on learning to analyze data and learn coding! Many of my other friends have attended another program as well called CSSI Google, for High school students interested in Computer Science. These are just some of the main programs at the top of my head, but there are hundreds of more opportunities for you to discover online.
5. Mischellaniaus Advice
As someone who has been heavily involved for around a year now, I can say with much confidence, that I am 100% no expert! I am a student who is just passionate about sharing with others about what I have learned throughout these past few months, and with that being said, I want to share some advice that I have gathered from my time as a high school student.
I hope that you were able to find this guide helpful for your own STEM career. This was simply a way to introduce new students who might not know of the opportunities out there that could be offered. Please feel free to ask any questions or message me at any time if you feel the need! I wish you all the best of luck 😊💖✨