Selina Franovic has unparalleled experience in the world of STEM

Lynlee Derrick

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8.6 million jobs were in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field in 2015 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and senior Selina Franovic has already stuck her toes in what the vast field has to offer.

“There’s a lot of like bias against high schoolers [in internships],” Selina said, “so it was tough to get even an interview with different places. [I] ended up getting some pretty solid companies. I’m working at Steelcase in the IMO department; that’s [the] innovation management office.”

This internship at Steelcase, a reputable furniture company, would not have been possible without a small sheet of paper.

Back in eighth grade, a small poster caught Selina’s attention advertising something called STEM. She had never heard of it before, so she decided to take a leap of faith and investigate further.

“I was just kind of curious,” Selina said. “So I was like, yeah, I’ll definitely apply. But then I really went back and forth with my parents about whether I actually wanted to do it or not. I’m really glad that I decided [to join].”

By giving that unassuming poster a chance, Selina was introduced into the first year of the STEM program offered at school.

STEM allows for Forest Hills students to have a more math and science-based curriculum. Students from all three schools in the Forest Hills district attend a handful of science and math related classes for half their day at Northern that begin in ninth grade.

Changing what exactly the focus is every year, the goal of the STEM program is to introduce students into the field. By providing rigorous classes that immerse students, Selina knew it was meant for her

“I was in all challenge classes in middle school,” Selina said, “and it just seemed like the next challenge to do, like just an easy way to be ahead of the game in high school.

Challenging herself has led to Selina staying with the STEM program for all four years. For these four years, she’s been introduced to CAD (computer-aided design) classes, engineering, and her own passion.

“Up until I started STEM,” Selina said, “I had my options open for what I wanted to do for post-secondary education. But now I want to be specifically this, and I’ve learned what I want to be through STEM. It’s kind of showing me my talents and my weaknesses, and I decided to go into engineering, either computer science or electrical.”

Narrowing down through the courses and experimentations with STEM classes and learning what career she hopes to undertake, Selina has had to grow with the course. Having been the first batch of STEM students, Selina has experienced the learning curve with the course itself first-hand.

Taking on the required STEM senior task of an internship was no exception to this rule of learning as you go. Having fallen behind the estimated schedule of finding an internship, the STEM internships were not started until October, a month and a half later than planned; however, Selina used this time to keep researching companies and continuously interview.

“Honestly, that whole month and a half was still good learning time,” Selina said. “We had to build our own résumés [which] took a lot of time. Our teacher really critiqued [the résumés]. We did [around] 20 interviews, so it was another good life skill. You’re going to need to know how to do an interview.”

Despite being behind schedule and fitting in time for interviews with a sense of frantic rush, Selina was able to land an internship along with a couple of other classmates at Steelcase. There, she’s able to evaluate in real time what her future may look like along with creating an in-depth project.

“[We’re working on] this robotic box that you click; it’s supposed to be a different way of collecting feedback,” Selina said. “So rather than having a google form or something, now you’re going to have this box that has a screen on it, and it’s going to light up, and it’s going to ask you a question. Then you hit [one of the] sides [to rate it]. So then that’ll be collected to a database, and then you can access that data. It’s actually really complex. It’s tough to figure it out. We’ve been working on it for an entire semester now; we thought it would be done by November”

Collaborating in an internship is something crucial and beneficial to a career field in STEM. Being provided this opportunity through the STEM program offered is one Selina recognizes as irreplaceable.

“We go either two or three days a week to Steelcase,” Selina said, “which is just so unique and cool for us to experience actually being there. It’s a beautiful building, and [it has] great furniture all around because they are a furniture [place]. It’s a really cool atmosphere. Just to be on a job site with actual workers who work there– it’s [unrivaled].”

Being actually in the company working, she often interacts with people who work there. Whether it be questions over a sticky note or simple banter from being the “high schooler,” Selina immerses herself into her mature role at Steelcase.

These interactions and the very core of her internship have manipulated the way she thinks; having a leg up in the field of STEM, especially with her internship, has cleared copious uncertainties from her mind.

“I feel like the best part is just how far ahead it puts you from your peers,” Selina said. “So I was applying to [the University of] Michigan this fall, and I just didn’t have a doubt in my mind that I’d get into their engineering program because what high schooler has an internship? [STEM is also] ahead in all these classes, which a lot of kids are ahead, but it’s just something to really put you in front of the crowd [to] stand out.”

This reassurance about her future could not be possible without STEM; the classes and her internship with Steelcase have been an unforgettable experience for Selina. Having accumulated numerous hours of infield experience, advanced courses, and a love for what she does, being involved in the STEM program has effectively shown her what she hopes the future will hold.

“[STEM] just definitely helped me close the other doors [for my future],” Selina said. “I can focus on one thing that I’m really good at and that I actually enjoy it. This is my passion now, like engineering and robotics, and I’m really lucky that I got an internship that reflects that because I’m testing it out now.”