Intent on getting pure math PHD, start plan B now?

In summary, the speaker is intent on getting a PHD in pure math and wants to have a plan for their career after graduation. Plan A is to become a research mathematician, but the prospects in academia are bleak. Plan B involves pursuing a career in either software engineering or financial mathematics. The speaker prefers financial mathematics as it intersects with advanced math topics and finds economics and finance interesting. They are unsure whether to start preparing for plan B now or focus on pure math for now and prepare for plan B later. The speaker is advised to start learning programming skills as it is important for both career options. It is also mentioned that getting a job in industry is the main goal, while a tenure-track position is a secondary option.
  • #1
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Basically what I mean by my title is that I am intent on getting a PHD in pure math because I love the subject, and am still young enough to do it without throwing the rest of my life into disarray. But beyond that I need to have a plan. Plan A is clearly to go on to do several post-docs followed by a tenure track position as a research mathematician. However, it has been made abundantly clear to me that the prospects in academia are quite bleak, hence I need a plan B.

The two career options I hear over and over again for math phd's are software engineer or financial mathematician. Of these two I think I would prefer being a financial mathematician, as, in contrast to software engineering, it seems to intersect non-trivially with some advanced topics in math, specifically measure-theoretic probability and real/fourier analysis ( please correct me if I am misinformed in regard to this assumption ). Plus I find economics and finance interesting subjects in their own right, although of course not hardly as interesting as I find pure mathematics.

My question is: should I start preparing now? I will probably be applying to PHD programs either next fall or the fall after that, depending on how many graduate courses I want to take before I apply, so should I just buckle down on the pure math for now and worry about preparing for plan B maybe as I'm finishing up my PHD? Or, should I begin studying finance and applied math, and learning to program, now?
 
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  • #2
It never hurts to prepare early. The programming is a good idea to learn
 
  • #3
Poopsilon said:
The two career options I hear over and over again for math phd's are software engineer or financial mathematician. Of these two I think I would prefer being a financial mathematician, as, in contrast to software engineering, it seems to intersect non-trivially with some advanced topics in math, specifically measure-theoretic probability and real/fourier analysis

Most people working in mathematical finance have to have both computer skills and mathematical skills. Measure-theoretic probability and Fourier analysis are heavily used in finance, but in most situations you are applying them to input data, which means that there are non-trivial software engineering issues.

Also the really, really valuable skills require deep knowledge of both math and software engineering. It's the difference between being able to program in Mathematica and/or Maple and being able to program Mathematica and/or Maple from scratch.

So should I just buckle down on the pure math for now and worry about preparing for plan B maybe as I'm finishing up my PHD? Or, should I begin studying finance and applied math, and learning to program, now?

It won't hurt to start learning to program now.

Also, getting a job in industry is plan A. Getting a tenure-track position is if you win the lottery and that's plan B.
 
  • #4
Also, getting a job in industry is plan A. Getting a tenure-track position is if you win the lottery and that's plan B.

lol, fair enough, so what you're saying is that the finance can probably wait as what is really important is that I'm a programming god by the time I start interviewing for positions?
 
  • #5


I can understand your passion for pursuing a PHD in pure math and your concern for having a backup plan. It is always wise to have a plan B in case plan A does not work out as expected. In terms of your question of whether to start preparing for plan B now or later, my suggestion would be to focus on your plan A first and give it your best effort. Pursuing a PHD in pure math is a rigorous and time-consuming process, and it requires a lot of dedication and hard work. So, it is important to prioritize your studies and make the most out of your PHD program.

However, that being said, it wouldn't hurt to start exploring your interests in finance and applied math, and learning some programming skills as well. This will not only give you a head start in case you do decide to pursue a career in financial mathematics, but it will also enhance your skills and make you a more well-rounded candidate for any job opportunities that may arise in the future. Additionally, having some knowledge and experience in these fields can also be beneficial during your PHD studies, as it can provide you with a different perspective and help you see the practical applications of your research.

In terms of your interest in financial mathematics, I would suggest doing some research on the current job market and the skills and qualifications required for these positions. This can help you identify any specific courses or skills that you may need to focus on in order to be a competitive candidate. You can also reach out to professionals in the field and ask for their advice and insights on the industry.

Overall, my advice would be to continue pursuing your passion for pure math, but also keep an open mind and explore your interests in other fields. This will not only help you in the long run, but it will also make your PHD journey more enriching and fulfilling. Best of luck in your endeavors!
 

1. What is a pure math PhD?

A pure math PhD is a doctoral degree in mathematics that focuses on the theoretical and abstract aspects of mathematics. It typically involves advanced coursework and research in areas such as algebra, geometry, analysis, and topology.

2. Why should I consider starting a plan B for my pure math PhD?

While pursuing a pure math PhD can lead to a fulfilling career in academia or research, it can also be a highly competitive and lengthy process. Starting a plan B can provide you with alternative options and backup plans in case your original plan doesn't work out.

3. What is a plan B for a pure math PhD?

A plan B for a pure math PhD can involve pursuing a related field such as applied mathematics, statistics, or computer science. It can also involve exploring career opportunities outside of academia, such as in industry or government.

4. When should I start considering a plan B for my pure math PhD?

It is never too early to start considering a plan B for your pure math PhD. It is important to have a backup plan in case your research or academic goals change, or if you encounter unexpected challenges in your PhD journey.

5. How can I balance pursuing my pure math PhD and preparing for a plan B?

Balancing your current PhD studies with preparing for a plan B can be challenging, but it is important to prioritize and manage your time effectively. This can involve networking, gaining relevant experience, and staying informed about potential career opportunities outside of academia.

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