Job Hunting Advice
Your career will grow in unforeseen directions, but the first moves are
important. Before you can build the groundwork for a satisfying career you
must understand the lay of the land. You need to research employers who
intersect with your skills and interests, determine which occupations are
attractive, and learn what starting a job is like.
Employers look for specific qualities in job candidates -- you should be
just as selective in evaluating them. Resources in your career placement
office, the library, and on the Internet will help you identify
interesting employers. Research that list in depth to find the employment
situation that will fit you best. In addition to the type of employment
offered and how you will be compensated for your work, you should consider
the size of the employer, its culture, and its location.
A company's size will
impact your job satisfaction. Large organizations tend to offer stronger
benefits and professional development opportunities, but also come with a
certain amount of bureaucracy. You would probably have less opportunity to
be recognized for individual contributions, but greater resources to draw
on for your work. Smaller employers may provide more client contact and
greater exposure to upper management, but your individual successes and
failures are more visible. There is less of a chance that you would be
able to transfer to other assignments within the organization, but you
might develop a more diverse range of skills.
The personality of an
organization is difficult to pin down from the outside. You will want to
understand how the employer treats its people, what kind of formalities
exist between employees and their supervisors, how different departments
are valued, whether the organization sponsors sports or other after-work
activities, how people dress, if there is a structured mentoring program,
Employers are located
across the country, so you should evaluate the role geography plays in
your plans. When contemplating a move to a new location, consider the cost
of living in that city as well as its demographic make-up, access to
cultural and recreational activities, the quality of the local school
system, its climate, and your own feelings about being far from family and
develop theories to predict traffic patterns on the internet, create
models to optimize routing at call centers, chart financial markets, and
counsel corporations on health benefits. They are designing flight
simulators for Boeing, managing development teams at Intel, and
forecasting the economy at the Federal Reserve.
Accounting and Finance
Occupations in this area include financial analysis and engineering, the
preparation and verification of financial reports and taxes, and work with
systems that provide information about financial institutions and markets.
People in this field construct trading models for Wall Street firms,
design mathematical tools to assess risk, and forecast cost estimates for
write and maintain code that computers must execute to perform their
functions. Programmers often follow descriptions prepared by systems
analysts who have carefully studied the task that the computer system is
going to perform. The code may be used to solve a very specific problem on
one project or it may become part of a library of codes used by many to
solve similar problems.
Sales and Marketing
Occupations in this
area are driven by research related to the promotion of products or
services. Market researchers design surveys, perform analysis on the data
from surveys, and report on their results and recommendations. An
individual in sales helps customers determine what resources they need to
meet their requirements.
Management and Related Positions
coordinate and direct the many activities required to bring a project to
completion. This includes research, development, design, production, and
computer-related activities. They determine scientific and technical goals
within broad outlines provided by top management; they hire, assign, and
supervise staff, as well as forecast costs and manage budgets.
Actuaries build and run
mathematical models, and collect and analyze data to answer risk-based
questions by putting a financial value on future events. They work for
insurance companies, investment firms, employee benefits consulting firms,
and other types of companies that need to quantify financial risks.
Computer Systems Analysis
Analysts implement the
means for computer technology to meet the individual needs of a product or
organization. They study scientific and engineering data processing
problems and design new solutions. They make sure an organization's
computer code meets certain specifications for speed and efficiency.
Engineers apply the
theories and principles of science and mathematics to the economic
solution of practical technical problems. They design machinery, products,
systems, and processes for efficient and economical performance.
Statistics is the
collection, analysis, and presentation of numerical data. Statisticians
design surveys and experiments, then collect the resulting information or
data. In some companies statisticians help other scientists design their
experiments and train managers how to use statistical tools in decision
Mathematics / Operations Research /
economic, scientific, engineering, and business problems using
mathematical knowledge and computational tools. Operations Research (OR)
analysts help organizations coordinate and operate in the most efficient
manner by applying scientific methods and mathematical principles to
organizational problems. Modeling enables complex systems to be understood
Other Computer Science
solve problems related to the design of computer hardware and networks.
They help determine the specifications new systems should meet and test
new computer products.
Other Sciences / Health / Social
There are other
occupations within the sciences where an education in mathematics may be
applied. Included in this group are those working in meteorology,
pharmacy, and biochemistry.
Other Technical Areas
require technical skills that a degree in mathematics provides. Included
in this group are land surveyors, draftsmen, and electrical technicians.
There are other
occupations outside the sciences that hire graduates of the mathematical
sciences. Included in this group are occupations such as law clerk, air
traffic control and legal assistant.
Transitions are always unpredictable, but the start of your first job is
perhaps even more so. Many employees receive formal training or become
part of a mentoring or coaching program when they start a new job. Other
organizations simply introduce new hires to the people they will be
working with and the group takes the responsibility of explaining the job
and getting new members started. In any case you should be prepared to
learn the ropes and become a fully functioning member of the team as soon
Some resources in this section are provided by the
American Mathematical Society,
Mathematical Association of America,
Society for Industrial and Applied
and the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.