From a very young age, I was interested in design. Toys that could be infinitely reconfigured like Legos and SimCity captured my imagination for hours. Interests at home influenced my interests at school, and by age 13, they had coalesced into the goal of becoming an engineer. This drive grew, and propelled me for over a decade, to graduation day at Boise State University. I had done it. I had become a Civil Engineer and had landed a job in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).
Looking back at my childhood, I can’t remember how old I was when I first heard the acronym STEM, although today it's a difficult word to miss in the education world. In a day and age where technology moves the world forward by leaps and bounds and cities are larger than ever in history, the demand for both STEM professionals and innovation is increasing exponentially. STEM programs and messaging have increased in schools to help meet this demand. However, spending time in the workforce uncovered another message for me that hadn’t been drilled in: understanding business is critical to success in STEM.
Why an Engineering Degree is not Enough
I loved working as an engineer, but in order to prepare myself for future jobs, I needed business acumen. Senior engineers and division and department heads all use more business skills in day-to-day work than engineering skills. My STEM education gave me a way to solve problems and think logically, but I needed to understand accounting tools, financial reports, and markets to compete. I hadn’t studied business in school, so I started looking. Free workshops to six figure master’s programs, I found HBX CORe somewhere in the middle of the range, at 12 weeks and a fraction of the price of a master’s degree. For me, it was a great fit to learn business fundamentals as a busy professional.
The Impact of HBX CORe
I took CORe in 2016 and I have great things to report. I am more confident in my current role and tackling the jobs that I want. I was even able to turn my photography hobby into a side business. HBX CORe offered an amazing opportunity to learn from the experts at Harvard Business School, interact with students all over the world, and, in my case, reconnect with my local university.
CORe provided a new lens to understand the world that I didn’t experience while studying engineering. Regular tasks in work are now easier to navigate: requesting budgets, managing expenses on construction projects, using data to drive decision making, and communicating with coworkers in finance. Business fundamentals helped me contribute more to my organization, during meetings, and in general communications—it helped me do better work and stand out in my field.
Business is important to any STEM career. The blend of skills between business and STEM educations are formidable in today’s market place. Companies need to think differently to solve today’s problems and this requires increased versatility and innovation at the employee level to move the organization to the next level. Even if you don’t want to be CEO or CFO, you will need a business skill set. You must work with money, budgets, and financial teams to be effective and impactful. However, regardless of your career, most paths ahead of you involve business. The higher you work up the org chart, the more business skills you'll need to lead people and teams, and effectively run organizations.
If you’re working in STEM, I'm confident you want to change the world. Use my story as an example that knowing and understanding business significantly helps. Use business skills to compliment your education and stand out for the job you want. I’ve had great opportunities in my career to work in both private and public sectors—building the same sewers and roads that I simulated building 20 years earlier in a video game. And working for my hometown, the City of Boise, has proved to be an incredibly rewarding place to make an impact and the most satisfying time of my life. Thank you HBX for giving me a new tool to build and shape my life.
About the Author
Kyle Rosenmeyer is a practicing engineer in Boise, Idaho. He received his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from Boise State University and has spent over 10 years working on infrastructure in transportation and waste water collection systems. Kyle is an advocate for mentorship and community involvement, leading the professional development programs for the Boise Young Professionals Network and volunteering on a regular basis.