I spent last Thursday and Friday at Inspirefest in Dublin. The conference is a celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Music (a.k.a. ‘STEAM’). It’s also a promoter of inclusion and diversity. The two days brought speakers from all over the world to tell their stories. There were some recurring themes.
Firstly, all of the speakers’ careers seemed to be an extension of themselves. Brenda Romera of Romera Games talked about how as a kid she loved to rewrite rules of games such as Dungeons & Dragons. 13 year-old Niamh Scanlon (EU Digital Girl of the Year in 2015) talked about how much she enjoyed spending time coding and designing apps. Filmographer Elena Rossini, who showed us her moving video about the Lottie doll Stargazer, spoke of her work with a personal connection as strong as a child’s to their favourite toy.
Secondly, in nearly all cases, the speakers spoke about challenges facing them in pursuing their chosen careers. For example, careers in STEAM have been traditionally more male dominated. While this is changing, speakers spoke of more still needing to be done to support females choosing, accessing and succeeding in career paths in these areas. It was inspiring to hear the speakers’ stories of overcoming these challenges, driven by a pursuit of a career they really enjoy.
Two things struck me leaving the conference. The first was just how important it is to have a career that suits us and that we really enjoy. The energy, authenticity and conviction with which the speakers spoke about their story was revitalising. If they could bottle and sell their positivity, they could retire very early from the profits.
The second was a reminder that it can be hard to make that connection to our career happen. Be us male or female, young or old, there are barriers that stand in our way. I say it with renewed conviction post Inspirefest, navigate your way past the barrier(s). We have one career. We should be moulding it so that is most suited to us.
But as we know, it isn’t easy. So as well as pursuing our desired career paths, we should be a support for others. Your encouraging voice could be the difference. To a friend, colleague, family member or loved one.
Pursuing career paths that suit us and that brings out the best in us is the right thing to do. Helping people on that journey is as rewarding. Enabling staff to pursue career paths that suit them is the right thing for businesses to do. Your business is going to work better for it.
Let’s make it happen.