STEM fields open a world of opportunities for careers that are not limited to the traditional science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. In this interview, Susanne Lettner shares highlights of her career as a Marketing Specialist within the industrial automation industry. Susanne is a Co-Founder of the project DigiMINTKids, which focuses on Digital and STEM education for children (2-10 years). She is also an ambassador for the Berlin based initiative, "MINT Zukunft schaffen“ (MINT is the German translation for STEM). Below she shares a little about her career and the inspiration behind it.
What is your specific area of STEM?
Marketing and Communications
How would you explain your STEM field to young girls?
I’m a Marketing Specialist (focus: Corporate Communications) and I work at an industrial automation company. We develop and produce turnkey automation systems for customers from various international industries including automotive supplies, electronics, domestic appliances - from a single robot cell to a fully automated production line.
Through communications, I promote our skills such as e-mobility, autonomous driving, power electronics or Industry 4.0. While engineers create amazing innovations, it’s the role of marketing to advertise them. My work includes writing and distributing news releases, publications and advertisements for magazines, press and responding to media inquiries (for print and online media). Also building relationships with partners, customers and potential new employees (pupils, students, trainees, skilled personnel). For that I’m writing our external newsletter and PR texts for our company’s website & social media and I’m organising events and trade shows. In addition to conveying a company’s messages to external audiences, internal employee communications is also very important to inform about our company news or employee benefits. I really like my job and remit, because it is varied, creative, thrilling and communicative.
What traits might a child possess that may indicate an interest or aptitude for your STEM field?
You need a technical understanding and an interest in robotics and automation. Furthermore writing skills and linguistic competence is necessary to communicate the topics and also creativity. You need an ability to write in a journalistic style that is customary for corporate and external publications. I studied Journalism and Public & Relations, and that gives me the required skills. Also important are organizational abilities, interpersonal skills and a strategic & creative mindset. You need to understand how to use data and research to drive efforts. To prepare communication, reports, presentations and other Marketing products you should know to work with Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Cloud.
What did you know about your STEM field when you were a child?
STEM education was part of my school and teachers encouraged us pupils to follow our interests, to use critical thinking, and they fueled our curiosity. I visited a girls’ secondary school and our teachers educated us girls to become global changemakers, which was amazing! We were inspired to become informed, engaged global citizens and to choose every job field - there’s nothing e.g. gender stereotypes that should stand in our way. That was a good environment for girls to learn, grow, and develop.
STEM based learning for kids can and should start as early as two years of age. And that is the reason why we founded our Project DigiMINTKids, which focuses on Digital and STEM education for children (2-10 years). Introducing subjects in early childhood education helps in building positive attitude of kids towards education. Kids observe their environment, experiment and do stuff to adapt the surroundings, they are curious learners. Introducing kids to STEM during their early years of learning can eventually generate further curiosity. Our project include the day-care center for children DigiMINTKids Amberg (Bavaria, Germany), the network location‚ Haus der kleinen Forscher Amberg-Sulzbach‘ and our network DigiMINTNetzwerk. Our project enables innovative networking in our region.
At DigiMINTKids the children building with blocks and building bridges are incorporating engineering and math. They can use a technology component by researching on the computer or tablets or playing learning games. Outdoors, children can help solve the problem of getting water to the garden next to the day-care center and they help to plant. Children love to experiment, combine new substances, build, sort, and have fun while learning.
Why did you choose your STEM field? Were you inspired by someone?
I’m interested in new technologies and I really like that I have the ability to work together with engineers and developers to promote future technologies. STEM is an important field and it helps to shape our future through technology. For that we need smart, creative and bright people working on solutions. People in STEM are the inventors and they work to make our planet a better place for everyone. That inspire me every day!
What are some really cool things that people in your profession work on?
I’m a STEM ambassador for the Berlin based initiative, "MINT Zukunft schaffen“, which is the largest German STEM-network comprising the majority of initiatives and activities of German companies, designed to win more qualified professionals for the subjects science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The initiative was founded under the patronage of German chancellor Dr Angela Merkel. Also I’m a Juror for the signets "STEM-friendly school” and "Digital School” of "MINT Zukunft schaffen“. Every year schools can apply for the signets and I have the honour of helping to evaluate those schools that put emphasis on STEM values. Many school offers amazing STEM and digital concepts, and start wonderful projects for boys and girls to get them exposed to different aspects of digitalization and STEM. Digitalization and STEM play an increasingly important role in the realm of education and will have an even larger impact in the near future.
What inspirational message would you give young girls to inspire them to pursue STEM?
Age-related STEM events are a great way to spark young people's interest in a STEM profession. I advise young girls to get a first impression of the STEM fields by discovering. Internships are a good opportunity where they can talk to professionals who can give them tips. So you can learn from them and know what you will expect in your studies, which career prospects there are and already test whether this is the right job.
And don’t give up! Truly, you can succeed in STEM despite your gender, racial background or your economic situation. Believe in yourself!
Thank you for contributing, Susanne!
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