Find Math Alumni

1. Was the degree you earned required for the work you do? How did you find yourself in your current position?
2. What skills or abilities do you find are most important in the work you do?
3. What preparation would you recommend for someone interested in entering your field? Are there any courses at State you would recommend?
4. What other career paths would you suggest a student explore before making a final decision?
5. If you had to do everything over again, would you do anything differently? Why or why not?

Chuyue Wang (Monica), Associate Analytical Consultant
Applied Mathematics and Statistics, May 2016


1. Was the degree you earned required for the work you do? How did you find yourself in your current position?

    My degree was one of the required degrees for my current position. I was exposed to topics in Analytics in my second year of college and then became very interested in the field. I learned that SAS Institute was hiring analytical consultants from career fairs and ePack. Then I applied and here I am.

 

2. What skills or abilities do you find are most important in the work you do?

    Knowing at least one computer programming language is very helpful. Good presentation skill is also important since my role is customer facing. The ability to learn is essential because you can’t learn everything from college and expect to use them all at work. You will be learning new technology and using new software solutions at work.

 

3. What preparation would you recommend for someone interested in entering your field? Are there any courses at State you would recommend?

    I would recommend taking R, SAS or python courses if you haven’t done any programming classes. Regression analysis and modeling is helpful too.

 

4. What other career paths would you suggest a student explore before making a final decision?

    Consultant, Data Analyst, Programmer, Actuary at companies in health, insurance, banking, and technology industry.

 

5. If you had to do everything over again, would you do anything differently? Why or why not?

    I wish I had a chance to take more courses in math electives. I didn’t have enough credits left due to double major. If I took more math electives, I would probably narrow down what I really like since there are so many different topics in mathematics. I had both research and industry internship experiences which allowed me to pick which path fitted me better (academia or industry). I definitely suggest to have exposure to both fields if you don’t have a clear career path.

 

 

 

 

Laura Barnobi, Senior Consultant at Deloitte Consulting
Mathematics, May 2013


1. Was the degree you earned required for the work you do? How did you find yourself in your current position?

    No, not explicitly. I’m a technology consultant with Deloitte Consulting. We hire great problem solvers, which can be found in any major (especially mathematics). I discovered technology consulting at the College of Engineering Career Fair back in the Fall 2012. At that point, they had a list of companies looking for non-engineering majors. I went down the list, googled them to prepare, and then headed to the career fair. I hit it off with a Deloitte recruiter there and ended up landing an interview. I highly recommend math majors to attend the COE and PCOM career fairs in your sophomore or junior year to check out what’s available for you.

 

2. What skills or abilities do you find are most important in the work you do?

    – The ability to learn. Consultants face different challenges every day, and that’s what makes it an exciting career. Consultants often find themselves in a situation that they’ve never been before, and they have to be able to use the resources available and catch-on quickly.
    – Communication. If you’re a math major, we already know you can solve problems. If you can articulate complicated situations simply, then you’re more likely to excel as a client-facing consultant. (Think: being able to explain your real analysis proofs to a friend.)
    – Interest in technology. As campus-hire consultant, you don’t need to be able to write code or use Tableau like a pro. However, you do have to have some interest in technology and be able prove it based on your classes, extracurricular activities, hobbies, etc.

 

3. What preparation would you recommend for someone interested in entering your field? Are there any courses at State you would recommend?

    I recommend focusing on doing well in the classes you’re already taking. (Heads up: Deloitte Consulting has a 3.4 GPA minimum for campus-hires.) To do this, I suggest taking classes that interest you, so you want to study and learn more. For me, that was abstract algebra classes (Hey Stitz!), my Italian minor, and PHI/MA courses. Also, follow those interests outside of your courses to show your leadership and communication abilities. For example, I was a student leader in the NCSU Italian Club and a math tutor at UTC.

 

4. What other career paths would you suggest a student explore before making a final decision?

    As I mentioned before, I recommend going to COE and PCOM career fairs early in college to see what’s out there. I looked into math PhD programs, math education, finance, and actuarial careers – but there’s unlimited options for math majors! Keep an open mind and talk to lots of people (e.g., family friends, professors) about their experiences and careers.

 

5. If you had to do everything over again, would you do anything differently? Why or why not?

    If I had to do it over again, I would explore double majoring in Computer Science and Math. Computer Science opens so many doors when looking for a career in technology and technology consulting – and it doesn’t mean you have to be a coder (like I thought). Also, I probably would have enjoyed based on my interest in languages and philosophy/logic.

 

 

 

 

Jasmine Frantz, High School Mathematics Teacher at Apex Friendship High School
Mathematics and Secondary Mathematics Education, May 2013


1. Was the degree you earned required for the work you do? How did you find yourself in your current position?

    I entered NC State in the First Year College knowing that I wanted to do something with math, but not quite sure exactly what. I thought that I would eventually earn a degree in Math or Engineering. Teaching was always in the back of my mind since my mother is a teacher. Also, my math teachers in high school influenced me greatly and instilled my passion and love for mathematics. Shortly after starting at State I realized that I could earn both a degree in math and math education. This way I could teach, have a deep understanding of math, and have a math degree to fall back on if I ever decided not to teach.
    I earned both a BS in Mathematics and a BS in Mathematics Education. Neither are technically required to teach high school math since there are alternate methods for earning your teaching license. I am very thankful that I have a degree in math because I truly feel that I have the background knowledge to teach all math levels offered in a high school. After graduating from State, I took a job teaching 8th grade math at the Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy. After two years at the Women’s Academy, WCPSS opened up Apex Friendship High School. I wanted to experience what it was like to open up a new school – starting traditions, developing the math department, and molding the basketball program (I also coach basketball); so, I applied and moved to Apex Friendship High School. I teach all math from Foundations of Math 1 to AP Calculus BC and couldn’t be happier!

 

2. What skills or abilities do you find are most important in the work you do?

    Besides understanding the math concepts, I believe that organization and communication are skills that are essential in teaching. You are constantly communicating with coworkers, students, and parents. In order to effectively work with these different groups, you need to be able to communicate with them all. Organization is also essential because you are constantly planning future classes, assessments, and wearing many different hats within the school.

 

3. What preparation would you recommend for someone interested in entering your field? Are there any courses at State you would recommend?

    If you are interested in entering the education world, you definitely should!  It is an incredible profession in which every day is different, and you are making differences in students’ lives every day. If you are interested, I would recommend that you shadow/observe in as many different types of classes and schools as possible. I would also recommend taking as many math classes as you can and tutoring as many students as you can. This will help you understand some aspects of the teaching field.

 

4. What other career paths would you suggest a student explore before making a final decision?

    I would suggest students look into going to grad school in order to teach at the graduate level. I also always thought actuary science looked interesting too.

 

5. If you had to do everything over again, would you do anything differently? Why or why not?

    I don’t think I would do anything different. I absolutely loved my time at NCSU. I had amazing professors that helped shape my views of mathematics and mathematics education. I am very thankful for my education and experiences that I had at State.

 

 

 

Josh Pearce, Software Engineering Manager
Mathematics, 2003


1. Was the degree you earned required for the work you do? How did you find yourself in your current position?

    My degree was not required for the work I do, though everyone here has at least a bachelor’s degree. I found myself in my current position when I was promoted from Sr. Software Developer.

 

2. What skills or abilities do you find are most important in the work you do?

    Critical reasoning, analytical thinking, communication, and interpersonal relations.

 

3. What preparation would you recommend for someone interested in entering your field? Are there any courses at State you would recommend?

    You can get a software development job with a Math degree, but it helps to have some Computer Science classes. Most math course work lends itself to writing code. For instance, you can do numerical analysis work with Liner Algebra libraries in Python or C++. Abstract Algebra and Theory of Numbers form the basis of modern cryptographic libraries and there are basic implementations of crypto algorithms that are fun and easy (for a math major) to write.
    Also, statistical course work is widely applicable to “Big Data” and “AI”.

 

4. What other career paths would you suggest a student explore before making a final decision?

    Software is eating the world, so good luck trying to get away from it. A math major can become a professional engineer, if they get a job at a company with other professional engineers and follow the track. Cyber Security is huge. Professional sales can be a great career if you commit to it and get proper training and mentoring.

 

5. If you had to do everything over again, would you do anything differently? Why or why not?

    I’m pretty sure I’d still go into software development. It’s so easy and satisfying these days to develop meaningful software. But, I would give careful consideration to which domain I wanted to work in. A progressive career in a single domain is more valuable than bouncing around.

 

 

 

 

Danny Long, Actuarial Analyst
Mathematics, May 2016


1. Was the degree you earned required for the work you do? How did you find yourself in your current position?

    a. For an actuary, the degree you hold doesn’t really matter as much as passing actuary exams. So, if you hold an art degree and have 3 exams passed, you’d probably look better than someone with a Harvard math degree and zero exams.

    b. I talked with people in the profession about good companies to work for. Then I narrowed down to locations that I’d be willing to live. Being willing to look in multiple cities was quite helpful, because I think it would have been more difficult to find a job if I limited myself to staying in Raleigh.

2. What skills or abilities do you find are most important in the work you do?

    a. Technical skills: Excel, Excel, Excel, SAS or a general programming background so that you can pick up another language quickly.
    b. Other skills: time management, logical thinking, not being afraid to ask questions.

 

3. What preparation would you recommend for someone interested in entering your field? Are there any courses at State you would recommend?

    a. There are four main branches of the actuarial profession: Health, Life, Casualty, and pension/employee benefits.
    b. I would recommend trying your best two get two internships in two different disciplines to try and hone in on which field you like the best.
    c. I would take and pass 2-3 exams while in college to be competitive. It’s probably fine to pass more while in college, but I don’t think there’s a need. 3 exams will make you very competitive.
      i. I took MA421, which is a mathematical probability class. It covered all of the background for Exam 1/P, but I would also recommend doing practice problems because the questions are asked in a much different form on the exam than in MA421.

      ii. I don’t know if any other classes cover an exam syllabus, so I’d just take challenging courses that make you think through difficult problems. MA425/426 and graduate courses would be good for this.

    d. You also need to take something called VEEs to become certified. You can look up if State offers courses that fulfill these requirements on the SOA website or the CAS website.

 

4. What other career paths would you suggest a student explore before making a final decision?

    a. Financial Math – banking or mutual/hedge funds. These will probably require a masters or PhD.
    b. Data science
    c. Research – this will require a PhD

 

5. If you had to do everything over again, would you do anything differently? Why or why not?

    a. This is completely unrelated to being an actuary, but I would have studied a language and studied abroad in a country that spoke that language.
      i. There’s more to life than just having a career and I think it’s important to make strides to expand yourself to be involved with more than one thing in your life. It’s very easy to study math at State and do nothing but math for all four years, so try and be proactive about doing something different every now and then.
    b. Not everyone can afford to study abroad, so alternates include:
      i. Still learning another language

      ii. Playing a sport, learning a form of art, or some other hobby that isn’t related to your degree.

 

 

 

 

John Haws, CEO, Taurus Math and Technology, Inc.
PhD Applied Mathematics, 2002


1. Was the degree you earned required for the work you do? How did you find yourself in your current position?

    My PhD allowed me to advance through a series of roles in my career. I was initially an individual contributor as a software developer and applied mathematician, and later managed teams and eventually became an executive. My education provided me with the experience and skills to tackle extremely complex and technical problems. Also, the credential (PhD) frankly provides authority in a technical field as well.

 

2. What skills or abilities do you find are most important in the work you do?

    * A strong foundation in engineering. In software, this is no different than anywhere else: ability to build robust software, that someone else can understand, and that is easily maintained.
    * Understanding and translating complex and esoteric problems and requirements
    * Identifying the best methodology and technology for solving problems
    * Knowing when we reach the point of diminishing returns in a development effort, and it’s time to release a solution and begin iterating.

 

3. What preparation would you recommend for someone interested in entering your field? Are there any courses at State you would recommend?

    * Linear algebra is absolutely fundamental in my field.
    * Statistics and Probability are also both very important.
    * In terms of preparation, hands on software development experience in a production environment is extremely valuable.

 

4. What other career paths would you suggest a student explore before making a final decision?

    * Definitely explore something like the Peace Corps, Teach For America, or some other challenging service work for a few years after you finish your undergrad. The growth and friendships you form in that kind of experience are unparalleled.
    * Startups are extremely exciting and energizing environments to work in. If you can find a way to work in a startup early on, it can be extremely valuable experience, since you will gain hands on experience in many different areas.

 

5. If you had to do everything over again, would you do anything differently? Why or why not?

    It’s easy to look back and say, if I had chosen a different path, things would be so much better. I considered a research and academic path, and that would have also been rewarding, but my experience and trajectory have been excellent preparation for my job now running a technology company.

 

 

 

 

Albert Hopping, Senior Manager, Risk Consulting at SAS
Mathematics, 2002


1. Was the degree you earned required for the work you do? How did you find yourself in your current position?

    I have a long answer to this that I could give over coffee. I’ll give the short version:
    My Mathematics BS degree made my Physics BS more approachable and marketable. Recruiters understand the benefits of math more easily than physics as they are rarely technical people. I needed the Master of Financial Mathematics do get into my current field. Immediately prior to applying for the FinMath program I was told I could not be moved into a Quantitative Analyst role without a masters. I got into my current role by raising my hand and asking to try management.
    I got my first job by going to the Engineering career fair. I moved into risk and quant role by teaching myself new programming skills and automating any boring or tedious work I was given. I then asked for more work (with my new free time) directly from the quants I wanted emulate.

 

2. What skills or abilities do you find are most important in the work you do?

    In my current role, it is analytical problem solving, prioritizing, leaning quickly, and communicating. Prior to management, my programming and technical skills were more important in the process of analytical problem solving. Management pushing the balance to softer skills and more “big picture” thinking.

 

3. What preparation would you recommend for someone interested in entering your field? Are there any courses at State you would recommend?

    First find out if you would actually enjoy working in the field. Try to talk to folks in BUS 429, MA 528, and MA 548 or take them. Also make sure you like programming or at least Excel and VBA. Other masters common to my field are economics, analytics, and statistics.

 

4. What other career paths would you suggest a student explore before making a final decision?

    Consider anything you think is fun. Consider teaching, we need more passionate STEM teachers everywhere. Study machine learning and AI. The labor market will be disrupted by AI. Learn about it and move with it, not against it.

 

5. If you had to do everything over again, would you do anything differently? Why or why not?

    No, one must look into possible futures and not possible pasts.  I certainly had options that would have changed my life and they may have been great (or not), but I love where I am.

 

 

 

Emily Gordon, IT Project Manager, SAS Institute Inc
B.S Applied Mathematics, NCSU, 2009
Masters Global Innovation Management, NCSU College of Management, 2010


1. Was the degree you earned required for the work you do? How did you find yourself in your current position?

    The answer to this question is most definitely less, and I would say my degree in mathematics is required for 2 large areas of work I touch on daily- complex problem solving and project control and reporting.
    First, I’ll touch on complex problem solving, which is the core of my undergraduate degree from NC State. NC State College of Sciences trained me to become a creative, efficient solver of complex problems. I encounter a wide array of complex problems every day at work. My degree gave me the knowledge of different methods for approaching problem solving and I continue to learn more methods and more solutions as I have more experiences. My degree also gave me the confidence that I can solve complex problems. This confidence is really vital as someone who works in the technology industry which is constantly changing and creative new problems but also new tools for solutions all the time. The confidence I built as I was able to master calculous, real analysis, complex analysis, and modern, linear or abstract algebra really did create a foundation for my job because I believe the problems I encounter at work are possible to solve. And not only are they possible to solve, but I am confident that the teams I work with can find creative, simple, efficient ways of solving these problems. This confidence continues to build with experience in the work place of course but the foundation I had from my time at NC State gave me foundation that allowed me to take risks earlier in my career and take opportunities that allowed me to take on more responsibility and more strategic projects.
    In the second area of project controlling and reporting I will say it’s a rare day that I use calculus 3 at work but I do often use data analysis and statistics based calculations in my job to report on project metrics so that I have a quantitative way to track projects. In my role I have to keep track of all the different variables at play on a given project so that I can report on our progress and assess how the team is tracking towards our goals in terms of deliverables, time, cost, and quality. Especially if we encounter a change or a significant risk I use concepts I learned studying mathematics to develop the different possible outcomes and scenarios and the impacts each scenario would have on our different project variables. I use these figures to help management make important project and business decisions.

 

2. What skills or abilities do you find are most important in the work you do?

    In my answer to the previous question I touched on how the ability the creatively and efficiently solve complex problems is a key skill for my job.
    Another key skillset for my job is communication. In project management, I do a lot of managing expectations of project stakeholders and managing the people on the project team. This requires many communication skills. To name just a few I need the communication skills to:

    • Communicate highly technical information in concise more layman’s terms for project stakeholders.
    • Communicate project achievements, risks, dependencies, and status is clear concise terms.
    • Communicate information about proposed solutions, project roles and responsibilities, project meetings, to the wide array of team members on the project in a way everyone clearly understands.
    • Communicate risks and harsh truths when projects are off track in clear, concise ways that management can make quick decisions and act on.

    Another skillset I use often in my job is leadership. As someone who is managing a cross-functional project but does not usually have staff reporting to me in terms of organizational structure leadership skills are very important because that is where I draw my authority and respect from the project team from. I need the leadership skills to:
    • Lead meetings and bring groups to a consensus
    • Ensure that each team member is participating in project according to how they have had their time, skills, and expertise allocated
    • Work with other leaders to negotiate resource and identify and coordinate dependencies and integrations with other projects.
    • Lead project day to day activities and track how the project aligns with larger more strategic goals at the company.

 

3. What preparation would you recommend for someone interested in entering your field? Are there any courses at State you would recommend?

    I have an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and a graduate degree in international business. I became interested in project management during my business studies because it appeared to be a good fit for my different skills that was a role that exists at many enterprises. I don’t think anyone who eventually wants to get into project management needs a business degree but taking some business courses in project management, or entrepreneurship, or anything where you would do a group project in a business course would be a good extra course to take. Also taking any summer jobs or internships at companies that have project managers where you might be able to work with one would be helpful too.

 

4. What other career paths would you suggest a student explore before making a final decision?

    I did explore continuing my studies in Mathematics or in Physics, the area where I did my applied math course work during undergraduate career. I mostly considered graduate school in these fields. I also considered some careers right out of undergrad in the financial and insurance industries, I learned about these through some of the career fairs we have on campus and the career services office. I did take graduate school entrance exams and took interviews with some financial and insurance companies during senior year and was able to decide those options were not the right path for me at the time. I think the important take away here is not to get blinders on and just pursue one path, keep your options open some, you don’t have to go full steam after 3 different careers but keep a few options open for research or on the back burner.

 

5. If you had to do everything over again, would you do anything differently? Why or why not?

    I would study abroad during undergraduate to be able to gift another cultures perspective and approach to mathematics study. I was able to do this during graduate school and I think it would have been interesting to study math in a different culture. I would also take more physics classes just for fun maybe just have audited a few because while the physics department has really difficult tests that is where some of my passions for continuing to learn and explore still lie.

 

 

 

 

Kathryn Furman, Business Technology Analyst, Analytics and Information Management Consultant, Deloitte Consulting LLP
B.S. in Mathematics and Minor in statistics, May 2014


1.  Was the degree you earned required for the work you do? How did you find yourself in your current position?

    Yes, the degree (or any STEM-related degree) was required. Technology consultants need to have strong logic, problem solving, and programming skills, and the mathematics degree provided me with a great foundation to use when faced with new clients problems I needed to help solve. I applied to this Business Technology Analyst position at Deloitte through the Engineering career fair. I was excited about the opportunity to work on different kinds of projects since I wasn’t sure coming out of school exactly what industry I wanted to focus on. I followed Deloitte’s university recruiting process and ended up accepting the offer because of the talented individuals at Deloitte and the opportunity to get to work on different problems every day.

 

2.  What skills or abilities do you find are most important in the work you do?

    Problem solving, creative thinking, and willingness to take risks and challenge the status quo with outside-the-box thinking are extremely important when helping clients tackle new and old problems in what is becoming a data-driven world. It’s also very important to have a strong statistics and analytics background to understand the basics of different models and software in order to help advise clients on what model is best to implement and with what kind of software. However, a highly predictive or accurate model means nothing if a consultant is not able to translate the analytics results into meaningful and actionable insights in terms of their client’s bottom line. Lastly, consultants need to be able to develop relationships with clients and team members using strong communication and interpersonal skills. Working well with others is a huge difference maker in your effectiveness as a professional.

 

3.  What preparation would you recommend for someone interested in entering your field? Are there any courses at State you would recommend?

    I would recommend staying up to date with new trends in technology and advanced analytics techniques. Being able to understand a variety of solutions and when to use them is very helpful when working with clients and your internal teams. I’d also recommend taking as many statistics and programming courses (SAS, R, Python, SQL, etc.) as you can while you are at State if you are interested in advanced analytics consulting. Lastly, I strongly recommend taking the business communications course. I didn’t realize how import this course was when I was taking it until I realized I needed to know how to write professional emails as early as my first day on the job. Exciting results and findings mean nothing if you aren’t able to clearly and simply communicate them to people who may or may not have a technical background.

 

4.  What other career paths would you suggest a student explore before making a final decision?

    First, a student should decide if they most enjoy applications or theoretical problems. Although I majored in Mathematics (rather than Applied Mathematics), I always had a preference for math applications vs. research or more theoretical math. Math to me was all about solving problems and then finding the next interesting problem to solve. If there’s a course you enjoy in another department, explore applications in that field. The great thing about math is that the principles and problem-solving strategies you learn can be applied to any field or industry you find exciting.

 

5.  If you had to do everything over again, would you do anything differently? Why or why not?

    The only thing I would do differently is take more programming classes! I didn’t realize how important and essential they would be to the analytics work I enjoy doing. Being able to take a course in SAS, R, Python, SQL, etc. would have been incredibly valuable starting my career with those skills already in my toolbox.

 

 

 

Emily Bullard, Senior Associate Technical Support Engineer at SAS
Mathematics, May 2015


1. Was the degree you earned required for the work you do? How did you find yourself in your current position?

    No. The desired degrees for my job are Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Business Information Technology, or Management Information Systems. Most of the people I work with have a background in Computer Science or Business IT, but there is one person I work with that also has a Math degree and we had actually taken a class together at NCSU and both ended up at the same place, which is pretty cool.

    I kind of randomly got an internship at SAS during the summer before senior year. It was an internship in Product Management, so it really had nothing to do with Math at all, but they were just looking for students with some basic technical and social/communication skills. I did not really expect to hear back when I had applied, but next thing I knew I had gotten the job. After that summer ended, I was fortunate enough to stay on as a part-time intern while I finished up school. I really think this was a crucial piece that lead me to where I am now. After working at SAS for about a year, I knew I wanted to look for full time jobs here. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a full time role for me in the same division where I had been working, so I started looking for other opportunities at SAS. Because of my internship, I had a lot of work that I was able to show off during my interviews, and I had met a lot of people that could give me recommendations, so I think that made a big difference. I ended up interviewing for my current job towards the end of first semester, and got the offer right before Thanksgiving. So I finished up my spring semester, graduated in May, started working in June 2015.

 

2. What skills or abilities do you find are most important in the work you do?

    I think one of the most important skills for the work I do is the ability to effectively communicate with others. I am working with customers on a daily basis and good communication is a key factor in getting issues resolved. If the customer doesn’t communicate something clearly to me, or if I don’t communicate something clearly to the customer, that is what holds us back. Effective communication leads to quicker resolution and a better experience for everyone involved. Second to that is the ability to learn. For the job I do, really anyone is capable of doing the work as long as they have the ability and desire to learn new things. I am constantly learning new things every day in order to keep up, so it is important to have that skill.

 

3.  What preparation would you recommend for someone interested in entering your field? Are there any courses at State you would recommend?

    If you are interested in SAS specifically, or any software/technical company, I would take the time to develop some business and technical skills beyond what your major provides. These companies aren’t only looking for Computer Scientists or Computer Engineers, they want people who understand numbers and problem solving and critical thinking, so there are a lot of opportunities for us Math people…but, you will stand out if you have some of those business and technical skills that you won’t learn in your math courses alone. If you have the opportunity, take a business course on Marketing or Information Technology. Take some programming courses, learn how to write some code (SAS, java, C, python, etc.). Take some statistics courses, learn about data analysis. These types of extra skills will help you stand out and give you an edge.

 

4.  What other career paths would you suggest a student explore before making a final decision?

    It really depends on what you are interested in. There are so many industries that want to hire Math majors. Don’t think that you are limited to certain areas just because you majored in Math and didn’t get a computer science degree, or a business degree, or whatever is it. There are jobs for Math people in all industries, you just have to find them. Apply for all kinds of jobs too. You won’t get them all, but apply anyway. Give yourself plenty of opportunities and don’t feel like you have to say ‘Yes’ to the first offer you get. But even if you do, there is nothing wrong with doing a job for a few years and then changing your mind. Don’t feel like your first job will be your only job forever. It’s okay to try out a few different jobs before you really decide what you like.

 

5.  If you had to do everything over again, would you do anything differently? Why or why not?

    I feel very blessed to have gotten the internship experience that I did and to have been able to find a good job at a great company, but I sometimes wish I would have looked for more opportunities before choosing one. I got my job at SAS so quickly, that I didn’t really look at other opportunities to see what else is out there. if I could do things again, I think I may have applied for more jobs and done more interviews before deciding. Even if you feel confident about one job, it doesn’t hurt to at least get some interview experience and meet people at other companies or in other industries. You never know if you might run into that person again in the future.

 

 

 

 

Ben Pierson, Business Analyst at Valassis Digital (formerly MaxPoint Interactive)
Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics (Minors in Statistics and Music), 2016


1. Was the degree you earned required for the work you do? How did you find yourself in your current position?

    Not specifically. Valassis Digital, who acquired MaxPoint in October of 2017, is a digital advertising company. There is a person on my team with a Psychology degree and another with an English degree. A lot of my day to day was taught on the job since we use internal systems. My coding background has helped me in some aspects of my job. I learned about MaxPoint when they came to campus for a recruitment presentation one evening. I was an intern for a year then I moved into a full-time position after I graduated.

 

2. What skills or abilities do you find are most important in the work you do?

    About half of my team (including me) does a lot of coding work, so my experience with Python, R, and Matlab during college helped me transition into that more specialized role within the team. Communication, specifically email, is vital to my day to day as most of the work I do involves at least 1 other team within the company. A large part of my job is prioritization and time management since the work that I do involves real time data and high budget advertising campaigns.

 

3. What preparation would you recommend for someone interested in entering your field? Are there any courses at State you would recommend?

    MA116 introduced me to Matlab which I used in lots of other courses. My general statistics courses (ST371-2) helped solidify some fundamentals that help with understanding data and charts. A Python course in the Physics department helped me get ramped up with Python which was slowly being incorporated at work, so I became a resource for my coworkers who were learning to code. In general, no specific courses were related to my field, but bits and pieces of my courses were relevant to my general understanding of data and mathematics.

 

4. What other career paths would you suggest a student explore before making a final decision?

    I think doing at least one internship (two would be better) during college can make a huge impact when it comes to deciding what to do after college. I only did one and I ended up staying at that company. I’ve been here a total of 2.5 years now and I was lucky to find such a good fit. Internships can help you decide not only if you are ready to work or stay in school and get another degree, but also to help you get an idea of what different fields will hold on a day to day basis in a company setting which is really difficult to understand while you’re a student.

 

5. If you had to do everything over again, would you do anything differently? Why or why not?

    I would’ve done an internship between my sophomore and junior year in addition to the one I did between my junior and senior year. It would have been nice just to see what else was out there and to make some more connections. I also would’ve joined an acapella group and played more basketball at the gym (don’t take the gym for granted, it’s nicer than any other gym you will ever be a member of), so don’t brush off those extracurricular activities! Try everything!

 

 

 

Jackie Steffan
Class of 2015
BS in Mathematics and BS in Statistics
Planning Analyst at Ballad Health


1. Was the degree you earned required for the work you do? How did you find yourself in your current position?

    Not at all! One of my favorite parts of the position I currently work in is that everyone comes from a different background. I have coworkers with business backgrounds, public health backgrounds, computer science backgrounds, and healthcare administration backgrounds. Having a team of people with different experiences has helped me to learn a lot about my industry, but also help the team to approach problems from multiple different angles.
    During college and through my internships in college, I discovered what I really liked about math and statistics was data and data analytics. When I was looking for jobs, I looked for jobs that had some aspect of data analysis. This led me to looking at jobs in many different industries, as everyone has data! I ended up in the healthcare industry because it mixed my personal passion of helping others with my professional passion of data analysis.

 

2. What skills or abilities do you find are most important in the work you do?

    The most important thing in the work I do is being a fast learner and being willing to continue to learn. Most industries are constantly changing, so it is very important to keep up to date on the changing of the industry and also to learn from your coworkers with more experience than you. I also find it important to have a good balance between the hard technical skills and the softer personable skills such as public speaking. It is a great thing to be able to find a solution or find something neat in a data set, but it is even more important to be able to articulate your findings to others and be an overall personable worker.

 

3. What preparation would you recommend for someone interested in entering your field? Are there any courses at State you would recommend?

    Definitely get as many summer internships as you can, get experience working in a professional setting, and learn what you like about each job. While at state I would definitely recommend taking classes outside of math. The math program makes it really easy to add a minor or another major and still be able to graduate on time. A statistics major/minor fits really well and the knowledge gained in these classes is a great supplement to the skills learned with a math major.

 

4. What other career paths would you suggest a student explore before making a final decision?

    With a math degree, you aren’t as much learning the hard technical skills as you are learning a way of thinking and learning to become a problem solver, so it can be kind of difficult to figure out what industry you want to go into. I would suggest looking at job descriptions for any role requiring a “technical degree”. Most of these will be analyst roles and will be in many different industries, then looking into the industry and what people do in that industry to see if it is a place you could work in and thrive in.

 

5. If you had to do everything over again, would you do anything differently? Why or why not?

    I think I would have tried to explore more internships in different industries. My first internship was in banking, which led to my first full-time job at the same company. I took that job mostly because I didn’t want to have to search for jobs while finishing up school. I ended up not enjoying that job, and not enjoying the industry as a whole. I knew at the end of my internship that I did not want to work in banking for the rest of my life. Looking back, I wish I would have tried some other industries before jumping into a job.