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Disillusioned math major

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

I graduated with a MS in math in August 2018 and I having trouble finding a job. I will write in bullet point to make my journey more clear.

-I have MS mathematics high gpa
-I have bs in mathematic with a minor in cs high gpa
-graduated last year in August with my MS
-spent close to 7 years in State public University
- have been looking for more than a year and cannot find a job
-have done hundred of applicationss

-have applied to data analyst, software developer, bank teller, analyst, grocery store stocker
-system admin, underwriter, assistant underwriter, insurance company jobs,insurance analyst,actuary,assistant accountant
-market researcher

-quantiative analyst at some banks, credit analyst, finance type of jobs
-almost never hear back

-not sure what to do with my degree
-My degree was too focused on math but it not related to actual jobs on the market.
-feeling like my degree is useless
-cannot do anything with a math major by itself aside from teach and that requires a license and certificate
-Feel like I wasted my time in college might as well been in prison all these years.
-every job requires a skill and experience I simply do not have
- nobody want to employ me
- not smart enough to start my own business, do not have any other how to make money



-have used indeed, my college job board, and I think some other job boards google boards
-most job advert have so many different requirement that I cannot hope to learn them all in one lifetime.
-tons of scams out there some job you apply do not even exist
-have done probably dozen of phone interview at this point
-have spoken to recruits but it has never gone anywhere

-I make little money and often work very few hours. Only make 15 an hour at both jobs.
- Do not make enough to support myself live on charity.


- despite my education the only job offered to me in my one year of searching paid 12 $ an hr answering phones. Declined it.
-have done several interviews
-some of these interview were quite lenghty several hours
- only realistic job I could get right now is a tutoring job that pay 10 dollar near my house and does not have fixed hours.

-considered doing tutoring online
-too few hours and rather tough math exams
-would have to review calculus more closely
-it seems to much effort to make so little money

-went to a grocery store interview at dollar general
-never heard back from dollar general (I do not think they like people with college education).
-got rejected from a bunch of retail stores like 5 interviews at retail stores home depo, kohls,dollar general


- have done interviews for positions including software developer at a indian company
-the guy said he liked my coding but I do not know design patterns well enough to be hired.
-have done analyst interview for a medical device company
-have done interview for slot machine gaming company as a game desgginer
-have done interview for analyst at state purchasing deparment
-have done interview for a goverment lab that does computer simulations for the army.
-have two interview for community colleges to teach basic algebra as a limited term faculty and part itme faculty
-rejected because even though I have an MS in math and was a math ta for years because" I lack face to face touch"
-not sure what that means

- I have done an interview for a call center go rejected I am not sure why, they never called back

-was accepted as part time faculty at one community college but was far away from my house
-the job also paid very little something like 2000 per class per semester you can make more working at grocery store

-rejected by all.


-usually after most interviews I never hear back or get a rejection email
-If I ask why they did not hire me they usually mention expirience or lack of skills
-applied to a phd in parallel computing at a good engineering school
-did not get accepted

- have no network
-do not know anybody in stem jobs.
-I tried talking to some people about stem jobs friends of friends never recived a response
-tried talking to university proffesors told me they do not know anybody in industry
-went to several job fairs (both university and private)
-many private job fair only intended to sell you thing and not actually provide jobs.
-considering joining the university alumni group



-some people gave me their contact info told me they had a job for me
-called them never heard back
-or told me to apply online

-have a basic knowledge of java and c but cannot code very well.
-have knowledge of control strucutres
-have knowledge of method, objects, and some data strucutres
-I however have trouble coding in itself as in solving a problem and translating it to code.
-have some computer science project I did in college but they are several years old by now
-Do not really have a cs portfolio time consuming to make and learn to code well.

- to get a job in programming I would have to PRACTICE a lot for years
- no company want to train anybody for stem job either in my expirience.
-you must have skills and expirience before you enter the job.

-have been trying to teach myself java better earlier this year but decided to focus on actuary
-my reasoning was that becoming a programmer could take several years
-learning several languages and algorithms and data structures would take me years.
-in contrast actuary exams are more focused on calculus something I studied more closely in college

-thought about doing a phd in comp sci or math my college
-I think I could get in but I am tired of studying thing that have no use outside of academia
-have no desire to return to college or give that institution any money

-studied and reviewed probability
-decided to stop studying actuary
-because even I pass the two basic exam I lack experience



-dissappoitned with college what they teach you (linear algebra, calc, abstract algebra) has no relation to job skills.
-feel like college is a big scam
-the most sought after skill seem to be programming
-wishing I did a bs in CS
-or wishing I studied air conditioning repair it is only 2 year and pays 50,000 or more a year.
-regret using my scholarship on college
-completely disappointed in college and in myself for chosing something so completly useless

-feel I might end up homeless or working at burger king mcdonals


Right now I am living on my mothers charity but she has an illness and I feel I might end up homeless because she cannot work.

Any advice is welcome
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
I am also depressed about possibility ending up homeless and underemployed for an entire year.
 
  • #3
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Since you had so many interviews and no follow ups I wonder if you are coming off poorly in the interviews. Maybe you can work with someone to practice interviewing skills.
 
  • #4
symbolipoint
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Your post is very very long, and contains both impressive and discouraging data - very much discouraging data.

Have you been employed often, in anything no matter what kind it is/was? If you seem excessively qualified, some people in hiring postions might believe you are "overqualified" or they are themselves too narrow in what they're looking for. You should appear qualified for some work in your field, obviously due to computer knowledge and skills.

Could you afford to donate voluntarily some of your time and skill in any community or nonprof. organization? This may increase your experience although probably not to immediately earn any income. Do it long enough, and you might earn some social credit in the form of some people who are familiar with you and your work.

I wish I had better suggestions. MS in Mathematics and undergraduate concentration in Computer/something ; you must be intellectually smart as well as more than adequately educated.
 
  • #5
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Part of your post hints at you being overwhelmed by the magnitude of work you anticipate needing to qualify for a relevant job. I encourage you to have a larger overall goal (seems to be doing actuarial work from your post) but to focus on daily/weekly/monthly goals, whichever time frame minimizes your sense of the magnitude of the task before you. The smaller victories snowball into larger ones. You've recognized that you might lack some relevant skills but don't throw out your entire education; you've shown you can understand abstract and technical material. Good luck and don't despair!
 
  • #6
Choppy
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Well, it certainly doesn't seem that you're unemployed for lack of trying. On the surface of it, it seems that you're stuck in that place of being overqualified for the non-STEM positions you're competing for (the assumption being that you'll leave as soon as something better comes along) and can't get the experience needed for the STEM jobs.

One issue is that of geophysical constraints. Have you tried applying in other cities?

Another thought is follow up. When you contact the people who interviewed you after the interview, have they offered any useful feedback? Even at the end of an interview, when you have the opportunity to ask questions, have you requested feedback? They usually can't tell you whether or not you got the job, but you can ask them things like:
- Based on the interview, how do you see my strengths and weaknesses?
- Is there something I lack that an ideal candidate would have?
And if you've been told you didn't get the position... What can I do to improve my chances at obtaining similar positions?

In the context of job-hunting, network is not a noun, it's a verb. Have you tried contacting other students you went to school with? Sometimes just following up with a "what are you up to now" kind of question can show you how they got into the position they are currently in from where you were.

Another idea on this front is attending conferences in the field you're trying to break into. I realize this can be a substantial investment, but this is a place where you can sit down with people in the relevant companies and ask them how they got their jobs, who's hiring, when is the best time to apply, etc? Just because a person doesn't have a job available right now, doesn't mean that they don't know of one coming up. And remember, a lot of jobs aren't even advertised - or if they are, only minimally to meet legal requirements. This is because a lot of positions are filled by internal candidates, or interns, or volunteers, or people who for whatever reason have a foot in the door. Spending time with people in a particular field just might give you that "foot" in the door that you need.

Anyway, hopefully something here is useful.
 
  • #7
StatGuy2000
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To the OP:

I have a question for you. During the time you were in university, did you ever seek an internship or a research opportunity? In your original post, you made no mention of that whatsoever.

I think part of the reason why you are not hearing back is precisely because you do not have such experience, which is expected of STEM graduates, including those in math.

As for next steps, @Choppy and others have given you some good suggestions. I would add the following:

1. If you are lacking specific skills for a job that you want, focus on getting those skills on your own. For example, you mention that you "do not code well". This is something you can practice through open-source projects, which you can post on your own Github page. This is something that you can demonstrate to employers.

2. You mention that one employer said you lack "face to face touch". I suspect that means that they feel that you do not have especially good one-on-one communication skills (or that's the way it comes across in interviews). Perhaps you speak in a monotone. Perhaps you don't look people in the eye.
I would suggest that you use your college/university career centre and see if you can work with some counselors or coaches on interview techniques or communication skills. Because communication skills is among the most important skills you need to develop, and this isn't usually taught in universities.

3. I assume that you live in the US. One option you might want to consider is joining the Peace Corps. Your MS would be looked upon favourably by them, and could give you a valuable international perspective which employers value quite highly.

4. I know you have already spent 7 years in school, but perhaps as a last resort, consider going back to school to pursue either (A) a second degree in areas like engineering, or even (B) a community college diploma in specific skilled trades (you did mention air conditioning technician earlier). If you choose option A, make sure you pursue an internship while you are in school!!

5. As for pursuing a PhD (which you had mentioned), one option you might want to consider is in statistics. A PhD in statistics is often considered the equivalent of 2-3 years work experience, and will open numerous doors for you in a variety of career areas. Given how competitive graduate programs are, you will need to apply to many schools, but given you said you had a high GPA, you do have a chance at being accepted.

Just my 2 cents worth.
 
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  • #8
OP here.

I will try to answer all the questions other poster have asked.

1. My only work experience thus far has been Math TA, Math tutor at my college, and working as an office clerk as a temp.
2. I did not do any internships while in college, I went to an internship for ups in November 2018 after I graduated but they asked me so many questions do you have experience in predictive modeling, all these things, some I think I never learned as math major. I regret not doing an internship.
3. Considered a phd in statistics in my college. I already have a application filled out but I am not sure whether to send it or not. I think I honestly might do it, its just that I hate to spend more time in college.
3A. I think statistics is a good field of study. I wish I studied more statistics in college. I studied instead classes like probability,abstract algebra,linear algebra, real analysis, differential equation and all that stuff.

4. One thing I forgot to mention is I am considering joining the United States Army as an officer and seeing if can be a signal analysis officer. I been studying for the ASVAB. I spoke with a recruiter and they said they are looking for officers.
5. I have tried applying to other cities. I think my geographical location works against me I live in a suburb . I do not have the money to go live in San Francisco or New York.
 
  • #9
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cannot do anything with a math major by itself aside from teach and that requires a license and certificate
Teaching at the K-12 level requires a certificate, although I have heard of schools where that wasn't required, due to their inability to get qualified people to teach.
A teaching certificate is not required for teaching at the 2-year college level. I spent half of my career teaching math at a community college. The only requirement was a Masters' in math. Of course, preference is given to people with experience, so you might consider teaching part-time at a CC. I don't recommend it as a permanent option, though, given that part-time instructors don't make much money, and often wind up teaching classes at different colleges to make ends meet.
4. One thing I forgot to mention is I am considering joining the United States Army as an officer and seeing if can be a signal analysis officer. I been studying for the ASVAB. I spoke with a recruiter and they said they are looking for officers.
That's an option. I'm retired from my other career in the software industry, but have returned to teaching at two nearby community colleges. One of my students retired from the Army as a warrant officer in intelligence. He's back in school working toward a degree in Software Engineering. Another of my students retired from the US Navy at the rank of Captain (equivalent to a Colonel in the Army).
I think my geographical location works against me I live in a suburb .
If you're in a suburb of a large city, there are more opportunities than if you live out in the sticks. You don't have to go to NYC or the Bay Area to find a job, and besides, the cost of living in those cities is so high that an entry-level position would be difficult to live on.
 
  • #10
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It looks to me like you are trying, and have solid ability and academic achievement; however, your overall tone strikes me as overly morose and defeatist. I understand that it can be difficult to present yourself as 'personable' when your fruitless job search has steadily led you to the brink of despair, but you must remember that you're looking for a job that requires demonstrated ability in specific applications of abstract reasoning abilities, and that it's important to recognize that you must not seem sad or depressed at an interview even if that's how you're feeling at the time. You're probably not sad when you have a meaningful job with good compensation, so it's probably not dishonest for you to show them in advance, without being giddy, a bit of how elated you'll be when you're hired. Let them know, not necessarily by your explicitly saying so, that you're excited to have been granted the interview and that you hope for a successful conclusion of the process.

If you are being rejected at the HR interview level, please bear in mind that HR doesn't have the authority to hire you; only the option to reject you, so you must focus on presenting yourself as friendly and pleasant, without being obsequious. Do some research on the company with which you are interviewing, so that you will have some idea of their sense of mission. Ask questions that show that you're interested in how you could apply your abilities toward their achieving their goals.

If you get past the HR interview, and you are being interviewed by a person with power to hire you, as you listen, become prepared to present a dynamically composed response.

Such ideas and more are discussed in detail in:

What Color is Your Parachute​
A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters & Career Changers​
by Richard N. Bolles​

The following images are from http://www.parachutebook.com/

1576435369929.png


1576433498077.png


Best wishes to you for your achieving your goals.
 
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  • #11
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If you'll message me your resume I'll see if I can give you some feedback on how it's coming across.
 
  • #12
DEvens
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The comments people made about interview skills are important. I can pinpoint the exact remark I made that got me the job which led to the career I have had for 30 years. "I am not afraid of long hours." When I said this, I saw the interviewer grin, then put back on his poker face. I was pretty sure I would be starting work on Monday.

Of the several jobs I have had in my life, part time in school and full time after, more than half came through personal contacts. Hit up your profs, your guidance councilor, your department chair, etc. Know anybody in industry? Ask them for an intro.

Another thing that got me jobs at times was useful and relevant hobby activities. For example, in high school I got an early personal computer. (A TRS80 to be specific.) And in job applications I mentioned that I liked to program it in BASIC. This was 1980 or there-abouts. So it was not nearly so popular as today that everybody had their own computer on their desk.

Also, see if your university has a place where advertisers put up job ads. It is possible that these are employers who are more targeted to recent grads and so would be less demanding with respect to experience.
 
  • #13
symbolipoint
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The comments people made about interview skills are important. I can pinpoint the exact remark I made that got me the job which led to the career I have had for 30 years. "I am not afraid of long hours." When I said this, I saw the interviewer grin, then put back on his poker face. I was pretty sure I would be starting work on Monday.
Like finding a key to a job and a career -
Sometimes a candidate sees a way to talk a way into a job but just be careful. Candidate better be able to do what he said or demonstrate what he said. That "long hours" thing is very real. Some positions will either allow or require spending longer than 40-per-week. If one can do this and say so in advance, then that is a candidate's way in. There are sometimes other "ways in", also.
 
  • #14
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After obtaining a Ph.D. in theoretical mathematics, I went through a discouraging job search, with no luck. In desperation, I entered a Masters program in Industrial Engineering, concentrating on Operations Research. It was the best decision I ever made. The experience was very rewarding and I ended up with a very satisfying job.

PS. I even took some classes in the Engineering department that I had taught in a Math department. It seemed as though companies were more impressed with the Engineering classes I took than they were with the fact that I had taught the same subjects earlier in a Math department.
 
  • #15
I am thinking of applying to a MS degree in Industrial Engineering but I am not sure.I would have to take out loans to pay for it.

Apparently operations research/Industrial Engineer is similar to data analytics. Apparently you have to learn tools like R and use statistics to figure out something from data, like try to figure how optimize data to make sure the company make more money. I think that is the case but I could be wrong.

If industrial engineering is similar to data analytics then I do not want to go back to college for that degree. I think I could teach myself statistics and programming languages like R. Of course in a university setting you can network and maybe get an internship. My fear is taking out loans and since I do not have much loans right now be in a even worse situation that will make me even more anxious and uncertain about the future.


I do not really know much about statistics I know more about probability. Statistics seems kind of boring to me its all about making tables with number, long computations. I am not that interested in data analytics.

I am more interested in things like Boolean algebra and how it can be used to create logic gates which can do things like addition and shifting bits. But I am not sure what kind of degree that would be maybe electrical engineering computer science.


I dont know what do go back to college or try actuary or build up a coding portfolio. Choosing a career is too stressful I kind of wish the government assigned college graduates job based on some sort skills test.
 
  • #16
What is the difference between Operations research vs Industrial Engineering vs Data analytics vs Data Scientist.
 
  • #17
StatGuy2000
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What is the difference between Operations research vs Industrial Engineering vs Data analytics vs Data Scientist.
Operations research is a branch of mathematical science/engineering that involves using advanced analytical methods (derived from various branches of mathematics, as well as probability and statistics) to make better decisions, often where there are specific constraints or limits on resources.

Industrial engineering is a branch of engineering concerned fundamentally with optimizing of processes, systems or organizations. Please note that operations research is considered a sub-branch of industrial engineering.

Data analytics is a vague description to describe a collection of methods or techniques to both organize and analyze data in various forms.

Data scientist is also a vague term, but you can essentially think of them as those who are involved in the full gamut of working with data, from the curating, extracting, cleaning, and (most importantly) analyzing data, using tools from statistics and machine learning.
 
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  • #18
StatGuy2000
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I do not really know much about statistics I know more about probability. Statistics seems kind of boring to me its all about making tables with number, long computations. I am not that interested in data analytics.

I am more interested in things like Boolean algebra and how it can be used to create logic gates which can do things like addition and shifting bits. But I am not sure what kind of degree that would be maybe electrical engineering computer science.


I dont know what do go back to college or try actuary or build up a coding portfolio. Choosing a career is too stressful I kind of wish the government assigned college graduates job based on some sort skills test.
I am a statistician, and I can tell you that statistics is much, much more than simply making tables and long computations. (I admit that I'm a little offended that you think all we do is make rows and rows of tables!)

Statistics is a mathematical science involved in deriving or inferring reliable conclusions from data, subject to uncertainty inherent in the data and inherent in the scientific or technical question at large. In addition, statisticians are critically involved in the design and analysis of experiments in various areas (e.g. clinical trials, industrial processes, etc.) to help answer such key scientific or technical questions.

Also, statisticians don't just make tables -- they are often involved in developing various graphical displays of data, often using tools developed such as R. Also, statisticians work closely with other people (scientists, engineers, physicians, etc.) in translating the results of statistical analyses into results that actually address the question of interest.

If you want to know more about what I do day to day as a statistician, feel free to PM me.
 
  • #19
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I suggest that you go to a university bookstore and take a look at the required textbooks for the majors you are considering. That should give you a better idea of the material that they study.
 
  • #20
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I suggest that you go to a university bookstore and take a look at the required textbooks for the majors you are considering. That should give you a better idea of the material that they study.
That sounds like a great idea, no matter whether you're intending to enroll or self study.
 
  • #21
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Apparently operations research/Industrial Engineer is similar to data analytics.
Maybe, but the curriculum and expected knowledge set is pretty different. The operations research folks I work with know a lot more stats than the stats folks I work with know OR. Both tend to be weak in the type of software engineering that the machine learning engineers tend to favor. So there are similarities between those areas, but they often end up doing pretty different work. Their education impacted what they do every day.

To your point, almost all mathematical disciplines intersect at various points - for instance, predictive models contain optimization models at their core, so OR background can assist in understanding how many statistical or machine learning models work. However, most statisticians know very little about this optimization process precisely because it just isn't needed. As long as you have a feel for roughly what's happening in the background when your matrix isn't full rank or you're using a distributed system to calculate your coefficients, then you're good.

The specialization is not a barrier, but it isn't without meaning.
 

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