What is a STEM gig?

What is a STEM gig?

gig

informal, noun gig; plural noun: gigs

A job, especially one that is temporary

"working on the sea and spotting whales seemed like a great gig"

"I need an awesome summer gig to get some real work experience!"

STEM gig

  • Internships 
  • Summer jobs
  • Work experience
  • Mentor programs 
  • Scholarships
  • Networking events
  • Awards, contests, competitions
  • What else? Any opportunity that encourages a young woman in STEM before her professional career begins...

 

 


 

Are you "geeky" girl? Studying math, chemistry, physics, computer science, engineering, social sciences, biology, etc?

Geeky Girl Reality is here to kickstart your career. If you majored in physics, maths, social sciences, chemistry, computer science or similar STEM subjects, we aim to have all the resources you need to start building your career. 

Still studying?

Currently enrolled in university and still learning about possible paths and careers?

Take part in the student survey » 

Gigs are all about balancing work and study - getting some real-world exposure to your field of study. 

Not yet ready for a full-time STEM job? You need a STEM gig, girl! 

We highlight short-term opportunities like summer programs, internships and mentor programs.

Through our Geeky Girl Reality research we found that young women are looking for short term opportunities to help them start out in STEM careers.

Search our STEM gigs to find the gig to kickstart your career!

- The Geeky Girl Reality team


Interested in joining our team? Send your CV and letter of interest to discuss@geekyreality.com

 


 

Join our STEM community and access the resources »

Quotes from our survey participants

In our annual Geeky Girl Reality survey we asked young women currently studying STEM about their in the field and where they might be in 10 years...

 

 

We hope to help them get there with our social mission to support "geeky" girls living their reality.

Take part in the student survey »

Take part in the professional survey »

Join our STEM community and access the resources »

 

Latest from the Geeky Girl Reality Blog

You’ve probably heard about LinkedIn being a social network for professionals but, unlike Facebook, getting to grips with using it isn’t as easy as posting some holiday snaps for likes. With so much information out there, it can be difficult to know where to start, and many beginners get bogged down trying to primp their profile to perfection. George Khalife of Samford Advisors recently posted his top tips for students looking to use LinkedIn to kick-start an early career, and the post generated quite a great conversation. In this article, we use  George's advice to give you go-getter geeky girls the rundown on how you can take your first steps towards snagging that all-important first job, all through LinkedIn. 1. Build your brand, not your CV Fleshing out your CV with qualifications and skills is important, but save your search for internships for another day. At this stage, you need to focus on promoting who you are and what you stand for, so when you do apply for jobs, the people in your circle know you’re dedicated to their cause. You’re not just another face in the crowd; make sure everyone sees this. 2. You have a voice - use it! The internet is full of amazing content, but we’re willing to bet you have something even better to offer. It might be tempting to share an inspiring video or blog post, but anything that’s already out there is old news. George says  it’s time to ‘get creative and talk about what’s on your mind’: whether you draw upon events in your life or bounce off news articles to give a fresh perspective, your voice has power. 3. Variety is the spice of life Everyone loved your long-form blog last week, but they might not love the next 20 as much if that’s all you ever post. Get out of your comfort zone and experiment with video, voice recordings, and shorter attention-grabbing posts. 4. Be true to yourself It might be tempting to jump on the bandwagon and use trending topics to inspire the content you create. After all, if everyone’s doing it, it must be important, right? What’s more important is that you stay authentic and stand by what you believe in, so don’t be afraid to showcase your love for STEM and reach for success! 5. Students welcome Networking can be daunting when you’re reaching out to people with way more experience than you. Take heed and listen to great advice  from folks like George - he wants you to know that ‘everyone has a story, everyone has an interesting past’, meaning that your words have as much value as anyone else’s. Getting yourself out there on LinkedIn can lead to some really great gigs, whether that’s a proper job or a few days shadowing someone impressed by your presence. So what are you waiting for?  Oh, and when you join make sure to connect with us on LinkedIn !   ----o---- Geeky Girl Reality shares career tips to help young women kickstart their careers in STEM and relevant fields. Make sure to  view the available 'gigs"  on our site: internships, scholarships, and other entry-level opportunities.
Name:  Phylis Makurunje Role/Occupation:  Materials Engineer Country:  South Africa Phylis Makurunje’s work revolves around one of the biggest concerns facing the materials industry when it comes to building hyper-fast aircrafts- creating aircrafts using the appropriate materials to withstand the high temperatures experienced at hypersonic flight. At hypersonic speeds most metals melt. “As such, the aim is to have reusable materials that give the planes as many flights as possible before replacement. That is why I work on ultra-high temperature composites (UHTCs),” says Makurunje. Makurunje’s childhood dream was to make a helicopter one day. She was not entirely sure how to achieve her dream but pursued a career in STEM. She achieved a BEng (Bachelor of Engineering) in Chemical Engineering from the National University of Science and Technology. She then worked in the metallurgical industry for a few years after which she enrolled for MSc Materials Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand. It was here that the doors to outer space world opened for her and she began an incredible journey of working on UHTCs for rockets and future hypersonic space aeroplanes which can travel across continents in just one hour. She reached the realisation that she, “had incredibly leaped into [her] childhood dream field with the opportunity to work on aerospace materials.” And hence she proceeded with doctoral studies, following her MSc and has also been simultaneously working in the armour materials industry. With time, the “Materials Engineer” label has replaced the “Chemical Engineer” one. She wakes up every morning and asks herself, “Why can’t it be from Africa?” “Why can’t it be inexpensive?” “Why can’t it be accessible to all?” Makurunje thinks on these questions as she handles the challenges that come her way. She feels, “Just like the Internet of Things revolutionised the globe and essentially how everything is running our lives today, the Space of Things as I call it, is the next revolution and it is already here,” and is constantly driven by the potential impact that space technologies have on humanity. She describes her experience as a woman in the STEM field as having “been fun, fascinating and, of course, one’s fortitude has to be continually put to the test.” Makurunje believes one of the biggest issues facing women in STEM is mentorship, “Mentoring efforts that have gathered significant momentum are mostly directed at school-going girls. When young women try to reach out to women in STEM who have made it, they usually get no response at all or a passive one.” She feels that good mentoring at this level should be modelled and promoted and that senior STEM women should volunteer as dedicated mentors. Makurunje believes like many others that the 21st century may belong to Africa, “It is up to Africa to shake off the historical narrative of perpetually trailing on technological issues.” Many African countries have already increased the number of school students taking STEM subjects. Her message to the continent is simple and succinct yet insightful, “Enlarge your capacity. Spread out. Think big. Spare not.” Read more about our Geeky Girl Phylis Makurunje as she travels through the STEM world faster than hypersonic flight, setting the STEM world alight with her bright ideas. 1. Describe what your work entails. My work involves answering the materials question in upcoming hyper-fast aircrafts. Hypersonic flight is the next-thing in aviation; it involves shattering the sound barrier and zooming travellers to their destination via the fringes of space. Such daring speeds mean that one can fly across continents in just one hour. However, the faster the aircraft/spacecraft moves, the hotter the surface of the body becomes, especially at the sharp and leading edges. Temperatures soar to ranges beyond which most metals melt. As such, the aim is to have reusable materials that give the planes as many flights as possible before replacement. That is why I work on ultra-high temperature composites (UHTCs).This motivates me to wake up every morning and ask, “Why can’t it be from Africa?” “Why can’t it be inexpensive?” “Why can’t it be accessible to all?” 2. Describe your engineering journey. I studied BEng (Bachelor of Engineering) Chemical Engineering at the National University of Science and Technology. I worked in the metallurgical industry for a few years and then went for an MSc Materials Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand. When I realised how I had incredibly leaped into my childhood dream field with the opportunity to work on aerospace materials, I proceeded with doctoral studies. I have been working in the armour materials industry as well. The “Materials Engineer” label has overtaken the “Chemical Engineer” one. 3. What excites you about your job? What motivates you to get out of bed every morning? I am driven by the potential impact that space technologies have on humanity. Just like the “Internet of Things” revolutionised the globe and essentially how everything is running our lives today, the “Space of Things” as I call it, is the next revolution and it is already here. Outer space is the next hotspot of business conversations. 4. How would you describe your experience as a woman in the engineering space? It has been fun, fascinating and, of course, one’s fortitude has to be continually put to the test. This is where the issue of mentoring comes into play. Getting female mentors when starting a career in STEM (outside the one an employer may assign, who's usually a man) seems very difficult. Mentoring efforts that have gathered significant momentum are mostly directed at school-going girls. When young women try to reach out to women in STEM who have made it, they usually get no response at all or a passive one from 10 out of 10 potential mentors. It is high time good mentoring got modelled and senior STEM women stepped out to be dedicated mentors. 5. What advice would you give to young women aspiring to enter the engineering field? I would say “Do you, all the way”. A number of young people get derailed from their areas of passion and dreams by the voices of the people around them who misguide them that if one is good at Science subjects in school then they have to become a medical doctor. I admire medical doctors; but each one of us has to find our individual element and run with it. 6. As a STEM woman in Africa, how do you foresee the growth and progress of STEM on the continent? Is Africa a “land of opportunity”? I found the future of Africa well described in a quote I read back in 2007 in a World Bank publication, by one of the former presidents, “The 20th century saw the stunning rise of countries like China, India and Japan. The 21st century may belong to Africa.” It is up to Africa to shake off the historical narrative of perpetually trailing on technological issues. The positive is that many African countries are taking significant strides on increasing the number of students taking STEM subjects in schools. These are the important steps that point to a brighter future. My message to the continent: Enlarge your capacity. Spread out. Think big. Spare not. 7. Have there been any milestone moments or eureka moments in your career? My eureka moment came when I got the opportunity to study aerospace materials at the University of the Witwatersrand. It opened doors for me to the outer space world and the journey has been incredible. Having to work on ultra-high temperature composites (UHTCs) for rockets and future hypersonic space aeroplanes which can travel across continents in just one hour connected me with my childhood dream of “making a helicopter one day.” 8. How do you maintain a work-life balance? My friends label me “Juggler”; but I am not sure if I am that good at playing the balancing game. I really liked the idea that I learnt from an article on Randy Zuckerberg “Accept that it’s impossible to tick all the boxes everyday so choose just three [out of the five things that would balance one’s life] – say work, sleep and family. If you focus on three [in a day] and achieve them to the best of your ability you will be more productive, more successful and kinder on yourself.” 9. Who is your role model? Who inspires you? I am always inspired by the hundreds of stories of darity, of defying odds and of finding purpose from people from all walks of life that I get to listen to or read about. It difficult for me to single out one; I like that variety. 10. Where can more information or insight into your work be found? https://www.linkedin.com/in/phylis-makurunje-b598741a/ Facebook:  Phylis Makurunje Twitter:  @makurunje_phyl Phylis Makurunje interviewed by Dhruti Dheda Dhruti Dheda is a Chemical Engineer with a strong interest in media and communication. She is the editor of the Engineers without Borders South Africa Newsletter and the Community Manager – South Africa and Regional Outreach for Geeky Girl Reality. If you wish to collaborate or network, contact her at  dhruti@geekyreality.com  or find her on twitter  @dhrutidd
Name:  Yashodani Pillay Role/Occupation:  PhD Candidate: Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (UKZN) Country:  South Africa Yashodani Pillay  is completing a PhD in Toxicology and Molecular Biology at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN). Her current research focuses on toxin contamination in food, which disproportionately affects developing countries such as South Africa where food transportation and storage infrastructure is limited, as a possible etiological agent in non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs have risen rapidly in recent years, particularly in developing nations to become the leading cause of mortality worldwide. Although the current strategy used to address NCDs focusses on healthy diets and lifestyle changes, her research indicates that food quality is also an important consideration when tackling NCDs. Pillay has always been fascinated by the complex relationship between humans and disease. When she began her career as a scientist, she was unsure of how to combine her love for the innovation and problem-solving of the science field with her passion for social justice. Pillay completed her BSc in Biomedical Sciences at UKZN. She undertook additional research assistantships in parasitology and ecology during her undergraduate years as she was uncertain of what she wanted to specialise in after graduation. To get a feel for the different avenues available to her, she selected final year research projects in the fields of Biology and Medical Biochemistry. She found that she thoroughly enjoyed the variety of molecular techniques and projects in Medical Biochemistry and chose to complete her honours, from which she graduated summa cum laude and then master (which she has now upgraded to a PhD) in that field. Whilst at university, she had the opportunity to work with different NGOs, government and international agencies in health, policy and education. This gave her a chance to use her acquired skills for real life applications. Pillay hopes to eventually go into public health and use this knowledge in evidence based policy and initiatives or to enter a graduate medical/public health integrated program to combine these interests. Pillay says that one of her strangest experiences as a woman in the STEM space has been that, “people often mistake me for a man over written correspondence and are then surprised when we meet or chat over the phone.” She hopes that her presence as a female scientist goes some way towards breaking down that perception. Her advice to young women aspiring to enter the STEM field is to not be afraid to speak up, “sometimes people fail to realize that women make up half the world’s population and bring with them half the world’s problems and half the world’s solutions too. Your unique perspective brings innovation to the field.” She feels that African scientists are under immense pressure to produce high level, competitive research with far fewer resources their foreign counterparts. But she also feels that “this forces us to be innovative and to collaborate and I think we are slowly eroding any stereotypes that still exist.” Pillay believes that the continent has great potential for growth and that the key would be to “engage more youth in STEM, dismantle preconceived ideas about the sector [that it is] too difficult, just for academics, western ideology, “out of reach” – all of which are simply not true as scientific concepts underlie all our day to day lives, make it more relatable to more groups in our country and provide better support structures for youth entering STEM…” She is really encouraged when she sees that research done here is on par with international research. For instance, her oral presentation was nominated for an award at the Eurotox2016 conference in Spain. Over time, she has realised that a better work life balance leads to better work and wellbeing in the long run. This means prioritizing what she refers to as the productivity pillars in her life: sleep, exercise and fresh food. She says that this may “sound elementary but when working under deadlines and time dependent experiments these can easily run away from you.” Combine the use of all your senses, your love for knowledge and your support for women in STEM as you delve further into this interview on how this enamoured Geeky Girl, Yashodani Pillay combines her love for science and her passion for social justice. 1. Describe what your work entails. I’m doing a PhD in Toxicology and Molecular Biology using an in vitro model. Basically, I test food borne toxins on human cells grown in an artificial environment. We can alter this environment to simulate different conditions in the body. We then isolate different cellular components (DNA, protein, RNA for example) and run a variety of downstream tests that can tell us about changes to their integrity or the system. It’s a lot of lab hours but also a lot of office-based hours too, which most people don’t expect. Planning experiments and experimental design, grant applications, writing articles, analysing data, troubleshooting, maintaining admin and organization are also important parts of being a medical scientist. In more technical terms: the incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) (diabetes, cancer, heart disease) has risen rapidly in recent years, particularly in developing nations to become the leading cause of mortality worldwide. My current research focuses on toxin contamination in food (which disproportionately affects developing countries where food transport and storage infrastructure is limited) as a possible etiological agent in NCDs. While current strategy to address NCDs focusses on healthy diets and lifestyle changes our research indicates food quality is also an important consideration. I hope to eventually go into public health to use this knowledge in evidence based policy and initiatives, or go into a graduate medical/public health integrated program to combine these interests. 2. Describe your STEM journey. The complex relationship between humans and disease has always fascinated me. I began my career as a scientist with a love for the innovation and problem-solving in science and passion for social justice, though uncertain of how to bring them together. I completed my BSc in Biomedical Sciences in 2012. I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to specialise in for honours and postgrad so undertook additional research assistantships in parasitology and ecology during my undergraduate years and selected my final year research projects in Biology and Medical Biochemistry (to get a feel for the different fields available to me). I really enjoyed the variety of molecular techniques and projects in Medical Biochemistry and so decided to stay for honours (summa cum laude) and then masters which I upgraded to PhD. While at university studying the science behind disease I’ve worked with different NGOs, government and international agencies in health, policy and education. This has given me a chance to use the skills acquired in my training for real life applications and impact and has been greatly rewarding. 3. What excites you about your job? What motivates you to get out of bed every morning? I’d say I have a top 3. I love how science is at the forefront of innovation, discovery and solutions. That we can learn from laboratory data and the scientific method and improve real life situations, applications and the lives of others. I love that science has a place for creativity and design – both at experimental level and communication in images and presentations. 4. How would you describe your experience as a woman in the STEM space? People often mistake me for a man over written correspondence and are then surprised when we meet or chat over the phone – that’s probably been the strangest thing for me. I hope my presence in the field goes some way towards breaking down that perception. But in terms of day to day laboratory life; I have an incredibly supportive supervisor. He constantly encourages me to pursue my interests and has been my main pillar of support during the thesis write up. Our department is certainly female dominated (of the 14 post grads and post docs, 3 are male). We’re all passionate about our field and sharing that with people who want to learn more. 5. What advice would you give to young women aspiring to enter the STEM field? Firstly, there’s a lot more failure than success (literally) in science and research– so be ready for that. You learn quickly not to take yourself too seriously, that each failure is pointing you in a direction you may have missed before, and to take every opportunity you can to learn. Secondly, there will always be people telling what you should be and how you should be. But the best thing you can be is yourself – for you and your field. Don’t be afraid to speak up –chances are that others in some way connect with your experience or it brings something new to the table. Sometimes people fail to realize that women make up half the world’s population and bring with them half the world’s problems and half the world’s solutions too. Your unique perspective brings innovation to the field. 6. As a STEM woman in Africa, how do you foresee the growth and progress of STEM on the continent? Is Africa a “land of opportunity”? I think African scientists are often under immense pressure to produce high level, competitive research with far fewer resources than institutes abroad. If anything, this forces us to be innovative and collaborate and I think we are slowly eroding any stereotypes that still exist. It was really encouraging to travel and see that our research is on par with what’s out there internationally (My oral presentation was nominated for an award at the Eurotox2016 conference in Spain). I believe we have great potential for growth and are fertile ground for such. In my opinion the key would be to engage more youth in STEM, dismantle preconceived ideas about the sector (e.g too difficult, just for academics, western ideology, “out of reach” – all of which are simply not true as scientific concepts underlie all our day to day lives), make it more relatable to more groups in our country and provide better support structures for youth entering STEM/STEM training and early STEM careers. 7. Have there been any milestone moments or eureka moments in your career? I don’t think I’ve had that one defining moment many people describe. I’d say my honours year was a pivotal one for me. I’d always thought I’d go straight into Public Health after honours but instead ended up doing my PhD. At the time my project was based in drug discovery and I really enjoyed the novelty and creativity in building on and executing my project from start to finish. My supervisors encouraged this and progressive thinking. It was my first proper experience of research and had a lasting impact on my outlook. 8. How do you maintain a work-life balance? This has taken some time to learn but I’ve realised a better work life balance leads to better work and wellbeing in the long run. For me this means prioritizing productivity pillars in my life (sleep, exercise, fresh food). I know this sounds elementary but when working under deadlines and time dependent experiments these can easily run away from you. Then creating time for the things I enjoy – time with friends, family, travel, trying new restaurants, going to the beach (Durban beach is one of my favourite places in the world and wonderful to destress), live music or theatre performances. I think it’s important to have that balance between work and play – even if it’s something short, like a coffee date or beach walk I try to incorporate at least one per week. 9. Who is your role model? Who inspires you? Ms Jurie Thavar  – currently works for the Department of Public Works Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) but gives freely of her spare time to community initiatives and helping others. Public figures:  Thuli Madonsela and Caster Semenya – for their principles, resilience and commitment to excellence. 10. Where can more information or insight into your work be found? Researchgate:  https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Yashodani_Pillay Twitter Handle:  @Yash_P Yashodani Pillay interviewed by Dhruti Dheda Dhruti Dheda is a Chemical Engineer with a strong interest in media and communication. She is the editor of the Engineers without Borders South Africa Newsletter and the Community Manager – South Africa and Regional Outreach for Geeky Girl Reality. If you wish to collaborate or network, contact her at  dhruti@geekyreality.com  or find her on twitter  @dhrutidd  
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