Choose a major in the mathematical sciences
Consider degree programs in the mathematical sciences and academic disciplines that require mathematical and computational skills, such as engineering, life science fields, public health sciences, computer and information sciences, statistical sciences, financial mathematics, earth sciences, and physical sciences. Pairing math with a minor in any of these degrees can be a powerful combination.
Use your university’s resources
Many universities offer robust career centers. Services such as career assessments can help you narrow your search to suit your personality and interests. Other resources may include career coaches, résumé help, interview preparation, career development webinars, job boards, and career fairs.
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 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 find programs where you can work with a faculty member and other students on a research problem that originates from a business in order to get experience and learn approaches needed to solve such problems.
The National Science Foundation and other agencies offer programs such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs), Non-Academic Research Internships for Graduate Students (INTERN), and Mathematical Sciences Graduate Internships (MSGI) that support active research participation by undergraduate and graduate students in many research areas.
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 here.
Build a network of contacts
Join a professional organization like SIAM and get involved with student chapters, activity groups, and geographic sections. Attend conferences and events, and participate in webinars, discussion groups, and other programs and resources to connect with 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.
Be open to all sorts of jobs
Be open to job postings with titles that may not align specifically with your experience or career preparation. If you have training in the mathematical sciences and skills that apply, you can often learn the rest on the job. Do you need to have every skill listed on a job description? No, 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 in areas like differential equations, probability, combinatorics, and linear algebra, as well as the art of abstraction and advanced computing and programming skills. Preparation for a career in the mathematical sciences also involves being able to apply these skills to real-life problems and achieve practical results. Mathematical and computational skills are a huge career asset that can set you apart and open doors.