Seeking a satisfying career in BIG (Business, Industry and Government) is a multi-stage process.
- You start by identifying your goals and personal values.
- Then you plan what courses to study, craft a great résumé, and try out an internship.
- You learn more about career options, and research and apply for full-time jobs.
- You interview with confidence because you know the job matches your skills and values.
- After getting the position, you develop a network of mentors, and continue to grow your career.
The BIG Jobs Guide takes you step-by-step through these stages, and includes practical checklists and advice from mathematical scientists in industry. We recommend investing in a copy of the BIG Jobs Guide.
Following are some online resources that help you get started, and complement the material in the BIG Jobs Guide. The online resources are broadly aimed at college students. For specific guidance for mathematics, statistics and operations research majors, you can consult the BIG Jobs Guide.
Who you are: your “special sauce”
- Know yourself
- Create an elevator pitch
- What employers may not know about your skills as a math major
What you should study
If you are an undergraduate student, you have or will have taken required courses for your major. Beyond those, we suggest taking courses in other departments, for example, computer science, engineering, business, and economics. These will be helpful to connect your mathematical sciences knowledge with applications.
For graduate students, we also suggest taking advanced undergraduate level or graduate level courses in other disciplines.
- Suggestions for Mathematics majors
- Suggestions for Statistics majors
- Suggestions for Operations Research majors
Computing and data analytics are essential for BIG jobs. We suggest taking programming and data science courses. There are good online courses available, for example:
- Python Courses at Coursera
- Data Science Courses at edX
- Or see courses listed on page 41 of the BIG Jobs Guide
Some are free and others require payment; some lead to certification while others do not. Read the reviews and be an informed “consumer”.
What to put in your résumé
The career office at your institution should be able to help you prepare a professional-looking resume. You can also jump start the process by reading material provided at this site.
- Résumé advice
- How to include teaching experience on a résumé: see sample résumés
- College student and graduate résumés advice
Why do an internship?
- Do I really need to do an internship? Yes!
- Types of internships for mathematics majors
- How to find an internship – advice from a working statistician
What jobs are out there?
Four popular options for students in mathematics, statistics and operations research are:
- Data science (and try this career simulation)
- Defense agencies and contractors
- Financial and insurance industries
AMS also provides a useful book, 101 Careers in Mathematics, which gives a more extensive list of job opportunities!
What it is like to take a BIG job
Read the articles at the BIG Math Network!
Winning at the job search
- Visit your campus career office for an individual consultation.
- Go to career fairs at your home institution and at your town.
- Create a LinkedIn profile.
- Make a Github site for your code samples.
- Network, network, network
- Connect with alumni from your program.
- Ask the director of your undergraduate or graduate program for suggestions of whom to contact.
- Ask your friends, family, and neighbors.
- Tell mentors you are interested in BIG careers, and see what connections and advice they can offer.
- Read this article and watch the video on networking advice specifically for math undergraduate students, courtesy of AMS
- Practice your interviewing skills (e.g. through campus career services, or an online site such as BigInterview.com)
Useful Books and Articles
- BIG Jobs Guide: Business, Industry, and Government Careers for Mathematical Scientists, Statisticians, and Operations Researchers: Rachel Levy, Richard Laugesen, Fadil Santosa. Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Philadelphia, PA, 2018. The Guide offers insight on topics such as: What skills can I offer employers? How do I write a high-impact résumé? Where can I find a rewarding internship? What kinds of jobs are out there for me?
- Putting Your Science to Work: Practical Career Strategies for Scientists. Peter S. Fiske, American Physical Society, 2012. This free online booklet includes interview advice and a summary of stereotypes held by academics about business people and by business people about academics.
- Great Jobs for Math Majors. Stephen E. Lambert and Ruth J. DeCotis, 2nd edition. McGraw-Hill Education, New York, NY, 2005. Aimed at undergraduate mathematics majors, this book offers practical job-hunting advice and anecdotes from professionals in a variety of fields.
- She Does Math! Real-life problems from women on the job. Marla Parker, ed., Classroom Resource Materials Series. Mathematical Association of America, Washington, DC, 1995. Career histories are presented for 38 women, along with examples of mathematical problems solved by them in the course of their jobs.
- How to Become a Data Scientist Before You Graduate. Anna Schneider, Berkeley Science Review (online). The author provides a lively, short practical guide to the ten things she did during graduate school in biophysics to prepare for a career in data science.
- 101 Careers in Mathematics, 4th edition. Andrew Sterrett, ed., Mathematical Association of America, Washington, DC, 2014. Over 101 brief profiles are included of people who majored in the mathematical sciences and now work (mostly) in government and industry.
- Build a Career in Data Science. Emily Robinson and Jacqueline Nolis. Manning Publications, Shelter Island, NY, 2019. “You are going to need more than technical knowledge to succeed as a data scientist. Build a Career in Data Science teaches you what school leaves out, from how to land your first job, to the lifecycle of a data science project, and even how to become a manager.”
- You’re Really Going to Ask Me That in an Interview? Part 1: Grad School Edition. Rachel Levy, Deputy Executive Director of Mathematical Association of America, discusses a personal anecdote on inappropriate interview questions and tips on interviewing for graduate schools.