These STEM grads told us why you should go into teaching over any other job

You can keep your boring 9 to 5 grad schemes


Life is pretty sweet for STEM students. You’ll walk out of uni with that sought-after degree and stroll straight into the good life where every industry throws themselves at your feet, begging you to work for them.

So with countless employers offering you the world, why would teaching catch your eye? We spoke to the grads who took their STEM degrees into the classroom and asked them why teaching was worth ten times more than a flashy salary.

Unsure if teaching is right for you? Teach First’s paid two-week internship lets you see what teaching is actually like – apply to their Insight Programme here

Reaz, Imperial, Mechanical Engineering grad

Teaching Maths to Years 7-11

Had you ever considered a career in teaching while at uni? 

Admittedly I hadn’t, but I realised towards the end of uni there was a serious lack of jobs in engineering I actually wanted. Teaching had always interested me, but it was just something I never thought I’d actually do.

I applied to Teach First’s Insight Programme because I watched a show on BBC Three called Tough Young Teachers (featuring Teach First grads), and it looked like a challenge I wanted to take on. Doing the internship meant I could have a taste of what teaching is actually like, which was invaluable – I applied for the Teach First scheme off the back of it.

Has studying Engineering helped your teaching? 

Definitely – I learnt about so many different things, especially how maths is applied in the real world. So when I’m teaching something in maths, I can think of loads of examples of how it’s relevant to life, which combats students constantly asking: “What’s the point?”

Reaz, right

Why do you think there aren’t many Engineering grads going into teaching?

I just don’t think they consider it. People are interested in the idea of it, but they would never actually apply – I think the pay difference is a big factor, especially for what you can get in the industry.

For me though, I wouldn’t be in any other job. When I hear about my friends working at places like BP, Shell, or in banking, I never think: “I wish I could be doing that now.”

I think the main difference with teaching is that you really enjoy going to work every day – it’s not your typical ‘turn up to the office do your 9-5 and then forget about it’ kind of job. You’re having a huge impact on so many people, passing on everything you’ve learnt over your years in education. I think that’s pretty amazing. 

Teach First’s Insight Programme is a paid, two-week internship that lets you trial teaching to see if it’s right for you – penultimate year students apply here

Rachel, Hallam, Business and IT grad

Teaching Computer Science to Years 7-11

Why did you take your Business and IT degree into the classroom?

There is such a shortage of Computer Science teachers, particularly in more challenging schools. So for me, giving students from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to make a massive difference to the rest of their lives was a huge pull. 

By teaching kids to code, they can then go and set up their own business, without spending a penny on the tech. All they need is a computer, phone or a device to be able to build a website company or make an app. 

After finishing two years with Teach First, why did you decide to leave the classroom?

As much as I loved teaching, I couldn’t see any immediate options above me at the school I was at. So I left and went to PwC to work in Cyber Security.

What often surprises people is that Teach First helped me develop the skills to succeed at PwC. It’s essential to have people from a range of industries continuing to support the Teach First vision in different ways.

However, I quickly realised that I really missed being in the classroom and doing something that mattered. For me, delivering reports wasn’t life or death, but being there for pupils who often don’t have anyone else to turn was extremely important. So, I came back to teaching after 14 months at PwC.  

What was the jump like from teacher to consultant?

It was actually less intimidating than I thought it would be, especially in boardroom situations. I was used to presenting, planning for other people’s learning and taking people on a journey, persuading them to do what I wanted them to do.

Honestly, if you can convince naughty Year 10 boys to sit in their seat and do some computer programming when they’d rather be on Facebook, then you can convince a boardroom of executives which server solution is best for them.

Why would you recommend an IT or Computer Science grad go into teaching over joining a tech company or big firm?

I think it’s really important that as computer scientists, we are able to explain and share our knowledge, especially to the next generation. 

Also, you get really good holidays to work on your own projects. You do have to work during them to an extent, but if you are a computer scientist or a software developer, you could be freelancing on the side. You can have the best of both worlds.

Do something with your STEM degree that matters – apply here for Teach First’s paid, two-week Insight Programme and see if you have what it takes to be a teacher

Athi, Cambridge, Natural Science grad

Teaching Physics to Years 7-11

Did you go into teaching straight out of uni?

No – I actually did a few other jobs in STEM, but was feeling quite unfulfilled. I wanted a job where I could socialise with people and also engage with science. Teaching was pretty much perfect for that.

How did studying Natural Science help you to become a teacher?

Asides from all the Physics content, I was surprised by how many other skills I’d learnt during my degree. For one, communicating clearly to people and getting them to understand something as quickly and clearly as possible has been essential to my day-to-day.

Time management has also been crucial. At Cambridge, you had a lot of work to fit into very short terms, so I had to keep myself in check all the time. Teaching is similar – you don’t get extensions on deadlines and your lesson has to be ready when the bell goes otherwise you’re screwed.

Athi in the classroom

If you were to walk into a room filled with Natural Science students right now, how would you sell teaching to them?

I’m going to be incredibly cringe and use a quote. Carl Sagan said: “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

So I think as a teacher you’re doing a really important and fundamental duty to educate the next generation, not to become scientists, but to be at the very minimum scientifically literate so that they can think analytically, logically and critically.

You’re basically training people to be like you, which is just a huge ego trip, right? 

Get paid to see what it’s like to be a teacher – if you’re a penultimate year student apply here to Teach First’s two-week Insight Programme