How Do I Get Started?
Choose a major
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.
Use your university’s resources
Many universities offer resources and counseling to students through their career services and human resources departments. At the very least, services such as career assessments can help you narrow your search to suit your personality and interests. Other resources offered may include resumé help, interview preparation, and job opening announcements.
Arnie Kohen is a career counselor at Drexel University’s Steinbright Career Development Center. “The career center has several events throughout the year at which students can make contacts and network with employers: they can receive employer resume reviews, go to career fairs, participate in on-campus recruiting, attend various networking functions and information sessions, and access our online job postings,” says Kohen. “If a student doesn’t take advantage of these services, they are probably missing out on understanding the current job market.”
Explore internships, summer jobs, 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? Internships and work-study opportunities are a great way to start on your career path by allowing yourself to get a realistic feel for the field in which you are interested. They provide opportunities to network and forge connections for future job possibilities. Many internships turn into permanent positions, and even if they don’t, the experience will broaden your perspective and help narrow your career search. 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.
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. According to the NSF, these projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or projects. A directory of active NSF REU sites and contact information can be found at: http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/reu_search.cfm.
Build a network of contacts
Join a professional organization. Attend conferences, symposia, lectures, and meetings to connect with other individuals in your field. SIAM conferences provide venues for meeting with mathematicians and computational scientists working in industry, and hearing about their work. Volunteer for committees or community service opportunities.
The SIAM Report on Mathematics in Industry 2012 details the types of industries using computational scientists, job requirements, work environments, and future opportunities. It can be found at: http://www.siam.org/reports/mii/2012/index.php.
Published research articles, which can be accessed through university libraries and academic databases, provide a window to the research and activities that take place within an industrial organization.
View a list of organizations and societies related to applied math and computational science here: http://www.siam.org/careers/thinking/amcs.php
You can view a list of books that give guidelines and ideas on careers in mathematical sciences here: http://www.siam.org/careers/thinking/books.php