Besides good grades, internships, and entry-level job skills, employers are looking for applicants who stand out. We put together four tips to start the semester off on the right track and help you land your dream job that uses math.
Complete an extracurricular project or activity.
Extracurricular activities that highlight your passion for math and problem solving are the best way to stand out. According to Debra Mimbs, associate professor of mathematics at Lee University, “not everyone has made the extra effort to do something creative.” It can be a challenge to think of ways to be creative, but even going to math or STEM events held at a local institution, giving a talk on a topic that is math-related, or joining a math club are a few ways that can help, recommends Steve Cohen, associate professor at Roosevelt University. These type of creative applications show interest and dedication to the mathematics’ field, and set math majors apart from their peers when applying for jobs or internships.
Practice quantitative skills.
Along with learning how to write proofs and work through complicated problems, math students should also keep their data analysis and programming skills sharp. Professor Nicholas Jacob of East Central University suggests that “all math students (and STEM students) should have some programming languages under their belt. Be it Wolfram, Python, C, Matlab, Excel… you [will] need these techniques in the real world!” Finding classroom opportunities or seeking out programming resources in your extracurricular activities can help hone these marketable skills.
Get ahead of the curve.
If you do not already have a summer internship, don’t worry -get busy! Use this semester to get ahead on the next cycle of internship and job hiring. Cohen advises students to start researching opportunities for the fall or summer and make a list of upcoming deadlines, this way you can be among the first to apply for the next cycle of internship and job applications. However, if you want an internship in the summer. then there may still be some late spring deadlines too. Don’t wait to update your resume, and make sure that it is relevant to the job or internship to which you apply.
Students should also make an effort to build connections in the math community. Going to annual conferences, like MAA MathFest or the Joint Mathematics Meetings, and becoming involved with your local MAA Section can help build your network as you showcase your mathematics degree, according to Cohen. Another way to market yourself is to ask a professor to be a mentor for a research project. Building professional relationships with professors and mathematicians can evolve into future research opportunities and career connections, suggests Mimbs.
Actively pursuing one or more of these four goals can help advance your career interests and help you land your dream job.
Steve Cohen, Nicholas Jacob, and Debra Mimbs were all selected as PIC Math faculty to direct PIC math courses on their campuses. They received training during the summer of 2016 from the PIC Math program, and facilitated their research courses during the 2017 spring semester. The PIC Math program aims to provide research experience for undergraduates, while working on real problems from business, industry, and government sectors.
The PIC Math program is made possible by the support of the National Science Foundation (NSF-DMS 1722275).