6 Tips on How to Succeed in STEM

05/27/2015 09:59 am ET | Updated May 27, 2016

Daniela Jorge is Vice President of AT&T's Digital Design & User Experience (UX) organization. Her team creates mobile and online user experiences that connect millions of people with the latest technologies every day.

People often ask what inspired me to pursue a career in STEM. I tell them it's a lifetime of inspiration. For starters, I've always enjoyed art and creating things. I've always been very analytical and a good problem solver. Both of my parents were supportive and successful in their careers. I never thought anything was off-limits.

When I was in the eighth grade, my dad introduced me to industrial design. It hooked me. I loved the idea of designing products that people use every day and I loved computers and creating in a digital space. Then, I met the Internet and it all coalesced. The Internet gave me the tools to create digital experiences that touch millions of people.

The same skills that foster effortless user experiences also fuel workplace success. A love of technology, science, engineering, and the arts led me to my dream career. Empathy, adaptability and a great team keep me there.

I've heard a lot about the lack of women in STEM careers since it's an issue that regularly makes headlines. My team defies that notion in two ways: first, the art-science discipline required for my job challenges the notion that careers in technology are dry; second, five out of the six people who report to me are women!

Recently, I asked them to each give me a tip about how they succeed in STEM. Here's what they told me:

1. Be Curious: Cultivate three traits: curiosity that inspires creative thinking, an interest in reading, and listening to and asking questions of others." -- Andrea Sutton, Executive Director, Digital Design & User Experience, Business Customers

2. Adapt and Grow: "Be able to accept and adapt to change. STEM careers, by nature, evolve constantly. When I was in college, the Internet was barely a whisper. Cell phones hadn't gone mainstream. PCs were the exception. Today, all three demand my attention 24/7. Beyond that, love your career. It should be more than a paycheck. It should be a passion that keeps you engaged and pushes you to grow." -- Mary Garcia-Durkee, Executive Director, Digital Design & User Experience, Consumer Experience

3. Find a Mentor: "Search out mentors who help you grow and challenge you to take your skills to the next level. Be creative. Look for lessons. There are always opportunities to innovate. Help others become leaders and you'll learn, too. Never be afraid to fail. I've learned the most when I failed. Finally, embrace change. Technology is constantly changing: we either keep up or we get left behind." -- Tricia McKinley, Director, Digital Design & User Experience, User Experience Content and Operations

4. Continue to Learn: "Be open to changing career directions across industries, departments, or roles. Keep learning, whether it's formal education, certifications or anything new." -- Miriam Ynocencio, Director, Digital Design & User Experience, Business Customers

5. Have Perspective: "Look at things in new ways, take innovative approaches to solving problems and look for trends on the horizon that others don't see." -- Kimberly Sutherland, Director, Digital Design & User Experience, Design Standards

6. Empathize: "In analytical, technical fields, empathy can be your most valuable asset. Knowing where people are coming from, finding common ground and building relationships are hugely important, especially in fields like user experience, where we focus on understanding customer needs and creating simple solutions." -- Daniela Jorge, VP, Digital Design & User Experience

These skills can be applied to how you get things done in the workplace. You have to be open to taking on new challenges. Throughout my career, I've often agreed to take on projects that seemed impossible. But I always know that with some research and the help of great teams, I can accomplish anything.