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Junior as Applied Math Major/CS Minor needs career guidance

  1. Oct 15, 2015 #1
    Hi all!

    I am a junior at a University of California going for a major in Applied Math and a minor in Computer Science. So far I have been a TA/Discussion Leader for Calculus for a year, and I've done a presentation at a math conference for community colleges about a school-implemented study program that helps students be more successful in their math classes. I have a 3.5 GPA mostly due to my first year of not being ready for college - I've maintained a 4.0 for the last two years.

    As far as what I'm interested in for prospective jobs, I'm really not sure! I loved being a TA - my grandma taught grade school and my mom's a professor so I feel like it's in my blood to teach, but I don't know how much I would love grading homework all the time, and am wondering what else I could potentially do with my degree. I'm pretty open to anything, and I plan on getting involved in some research and internships next quarter. I also was considering applying to a few internships at the NSA either this year or next, but don't know what my odds are or if I'm qualified.

    I have loads of questions and am willing to hear any answers/opinions on any of them:

    Are there any suggestions on types of research or internships that I should look into?
    Should I focus more on looking into experience for CS-related jobs? (It seems like there's a much bigger job market for software/programming jobs, especially near the bay area.)
    Am I kind of stuck with going to grad school if I want to do anything with my major? It seems that any entry-level math-related jobs require at least a Masters degree.
    Is a Masters in math a waste of time? I keep hearing that if I'm going to go to grad school for an MA then I might as well just go straight for the PhD. Unless I just want to teach at a community college. But then would I bet limiting myself?
    Anything else?

    I know that I can get plenty of answers to these questions from career counselors, professors, TAs, research advisors, etc., from school, and I've done my own research and been on all of the math-career websites, but I wanted to see if anyone out there has any advice they could share based off of personal experience or experiences of friends/acquaintances. Thanks a ton for your time in advance! :-)
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2015 #2
    I'd recommend applying for those internships. It will help you figure out what you like and what you are good at.

    In the CS world, actual ability counts more than your degree. Develop a can-do track record and reputation. There are plenty of CS jobs where a BS or MS in math can be a big bonus, but only if you integrate the education into real problem solving in ways that other CS applicants can't.
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