Laura-Alexandra Smith
Education Coordinator Royal Society of Chemistry

What was your dream career when you were younger?

I was a bit of an enigma, I was always more focused on the arts subjects. I was supposed to attend Sylvia Young Theatre School in London at the age of 16, but my family emigrated to the USA when I was 15.

Later in my school career I found that I enjoyed the logical thinking of the STEM subjects. It just made sense to me!


What subjects did you study at school?

I am a product of two school systems, I went to high school in North Carolina as well as Scotland. I studied chemistry in both places in the US I focused on algebraic theory where as Scotland was more broad focused maths. I also studied biology, technical drawing, RE, art, Drama, history, modern studies, politics and debate.


Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?

Sounds cheesy, but my mum. She left school at the age of sixteen because that’s what was expected of her generation. She worked in banks for most of her life and then finished her career working as a financial analyst for IBM. She worked her way up with no formal qualifications from university or college.


How have the subjects you studied at school helped you in your career?

I believe that a strong mix of subjects in school gives you more transferable skills that can set you up for later in life and your career. I always followed subjects I enjoyed rather than what was expected of me. This way I was always engaged and enjoyed school.


Please briefly describe your STEM journey since leaving school.

I left school and worked and studied all aspects of hospitality from professional cookery to catering management. This served me well for 13 years before I went back to university as a mature student and retrained as a food scientist. During this time, I volunteered as a STEM Ambassador and I worked closely with the Food and Drink Federation in the east coast of Scotland. During my 4th year the job at science connects came up and I applied for it so I had a job before I had properly finished University. Since October 2019 I've been an Edcuation Coordinator at the Royal Society of Chemistry.


What skills do you utilise most in your career? 

Logical thinking this is often seen as a soft skill, but it is so necessary, especially when dealing with the needs of different individuals and groups.


What advice would you give to any young people considering a STEM career? 

Your career will take so many different twists and turns, be open to all opportunities and let what interests you lead the way.