How do you get started?
Choose a major, or consider a major/minor pairing
Look for degree programs in the mathematical sciences and academic disciplines that require mathematical and computational skills, such as engineering disciplines, applied and natural mathematical sciences, life science related fields, public health sciences, computer and information sciences, statistical sciences, financial mathematics, earth sciences, and physical sciences. Pairing math with any of these field can be a powerful combination.
Use your university’s resources
Many universities offer career services and human resources departments. Services such as career assessments can help you narrow your search to suit your personality and interests. Other resources may include resumé help, interview preparation, and job opening announcements.
Explore internships, summer jobs, industrial research opportunities, and work-study
What better way to determine the range of opportunities and explore possible areas of interest than to actually be in the workplace? Check with your university’s career center and online job portals, as well as the career and job resources on the SIAM website at www.siam.org/careers. You may also be able to work with a faculty member and some other students on a research problem that originates from a business in order to learn and to get experience with the approaches needed to solve such problems.
The National Science Foundation and other groups offer programs such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) that support active research participation by undergraduate students in many research areas. A directory of active NSF REU sites and contact information can be found at: www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/reu_search.cfm.
Build a network of contacts
Join a professional organization, for example SIAM. Attend conferences, and meetings to connect with other individuals in your field. Volunteer for committees or community service opportunities.
Learn to communicate ideas in a compelling, concise way to someone unfamiliar with the topic.
Fit for a job?
Don’t discount job postings for computer scientists, engineers or other titles that may not specifically be part of your career preparation. Often a person with training in the mathematical sciences has skills that apply and can pick up the rest on the job. Do you need to have every skill listed on a job description? You should meet at least a few of the criteria well and have ways to demonstrate your depth of skill in those areas. Think of ways to use the skills you have to approach new problems.
Are you ready?
Part of the preparation for your future is obtaining a solid foundation in mathematical and computational knowledge—tools like differential equations, probability, combinatorics, applied algebra, and matrices, as well as the art of abstraction and advanced computing and programming skills. Preparation for a career in applied mathematics and computational science also involves being able to apply these skills to real-life problems, and achieving practical results. Mathematical and computational skills are a huge career asset that can set you apart and open doors.