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Math Math B.S. - no prior work experience

  1. Oct 8, 2008 #1
    Hello, I just graduated from Penn State this past May with a bachelor's degree in math and a minor in psychology. I tried out the NYC Teaching Fellows program for a few months, but I've recently quit my job there. As I'm still living in the city, I was wondering what sort of jobs might be available to a newbie with a math degree. Some specific questions:

    What sort of industries should I look into?
    What are some possible positions / job titles I could look for?
    What companies, if you know, are in the city and in need of math degree holders?

    I started job-searching on Monster.com, but I've been using it ineffectively since I don't really know where to begin. Any advice would be appreciated! :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 9, 2008 #2


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    As long as you keep your lower-division undergraduate concepts & skills strong, you should be able to find tutoring jobs very easily. Some private schools might be able to accept you (you'll need to check on any credentialing requirements).

    A best guess is that with a degree in Mathematics and minor in Psychology, you are set-up to prepare for teaching. Could you find another paying internship program?
  4. Oct 9, 2008 #3


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    NSA? They employ a lot of math majors at BS/MS/Ph.D levels for fairly good pay and benefits.
  5. Oct 9, 2008 #4
    Thanks for the suggestion. :) Ironically, I just left the teaching profession (high school geometry) and I'm not looking to go back. Any other options?

    I don't expect to start with anything grand. I could probably get a low-pay desk job in any industry, but I'm trying to figure out which ones might allow me to use my math degree (even slightly) and eventually "move up."
  6. Oct 9, 2008 #5
    a mathematics major can't be strictly limited to only teaching. Or at least I hope not. I would figure if you're majoring in math ed then teaching would be your direction. But if your majoring in mathematics I would figure that you would have a range of things that you could do
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2008
  7. Oct 9, 2008 #6


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    Having some intricate finance knowledge might give you an advantage. Mathematical skills are used in many, too many fields - not just finance. Did you study other subjects on your way toward the BA/BS degree? If you had any particular course concentration in other areas which use Mathematics, then you have something involving those as possible directions.
  8. Oct 9, 2008 #7


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    What do you like to do?
    What kind of problems do you like working on?
    What kinds of activities were you involved in outside of class?
    What things are important to you? (Money? Time? Fullfillment? Bragging rights?)
  9. Oct 9, 2008 #8
    I have plenty of friends working as programmers straight out of school with math degrees...never really having programmed before....

    Plus you have work experience..you just quit an internship..still counts..
  10. Oct 9, 2008 #9
    Unfortunately, I have never taken a course in economics, finance, business, or accounting. I have taken a few courses on Visual Basic (2 high school, 1 undergraduate).

    As an undergrad, I enjoyed number theory, combinatorics, and probability (not statistics!) more than other math subjects. I value having daily "me" time and would prefer to have a job that I wouldn't have to take home with me every night. I left teaching partly because I was working 18-20 hours every day.

    I do like the idea of programming, but I keep hearing that it's not really wise to start that now since those jobs are continually being outsourced...?

    Also, which would look worse on a resume: having no work experience or quitting a job after only four months?

    Thank you all for taking the time to respond! :)
  11. Oct 10, 2008 #10
    Don't believe everything you hear about outsourcing...all that means is that the company is hiring contractors...the thing about that is, you can get onboard with technical recruiters who will get you those contracts..

    Having no work experience is worse. Plus if you do something on your resume that shows the time you were there and they never ask why you left that job, then don't go out of your way to mention it...nobody in your current job will care that much anyways...you know they have all done the same thing
  12. Oct 10, 2008 #11


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    Oil exploration industry uses a lot of mathematicians.
  13. Oct 10, 2008 #12
    Software engineering is an extremely structured activity, involving a lot of delegation of responsibility. Generally, the jobs that are being outsourced involve relatively little creativity and a large time commitment with a lot of tedious implementation details. Personally I think it it is better to be a computer administrator --- the person who keeps the computers at a particular school, business, etc running smoothly --- then a software engineer (programmer).

    If computers are your favorite hobby, then you might consider becoming a certified administrator. Otherwise, I would suggest that you become a self-employed consultant i.e. a person who is hired to solve a particular problem or complete a study; your interest in probability would serve you well in this field.
  14. Oct 15, 2008 #13
    What about teaching made you leave?

    That might help identify or eliminate other possible career options for you.
  15. Nov 2, 2008 #14
    This is a good news for me. I was thinking of becoming a teacher in N.Y.C. and was interviewed by Teaching Fellows. They did not take me. So they harness you like a horse, right? I guess it is a good thing that I did not get accepted. How much did they pay you? Were they picky?
  16. Nov 2, 2008 #15
    If you had knowledge of statistics the prospects are endless, especially with a psychology minor.

    But you still have plenty of options in state sectors as well as in computing (which will require some rudimentary professional certifications atleast). That said, teaching isn't all bad, but finding a proper placement to suit your needs is difficult.
  17. Nov 12, 2008 #16
    A math degree is a good foundation, but unfortunately, outside of teaching, there's not a whole lot things you can just jump right into. Becoming an actuary involves passing at least two exams before you're likely to be considered for employment. Then you'll spend some years trying to pass an assortment of harder tests. The NSA is an option for certain personality types. But you have to be able to obtain a security clearance and that can be a long drawn out process. You best be able to pass a polygraph, have good credit, and have friends and family that will say you're a safe and stable individual.

    So the bad news is, you can't really jump directly into many careers. The good news is the math degree makes a great foundation for building any number of career skills on top of it. You could study for a CCNA certification and do computer networking, you could take some programming and computer architecture courses and press your way into software engineering, etc. And some other people mentioned finance and business, but you'll have to spend a year or taking courses in those areas most likely before you can find employment.

    My advice would be pick something that interests you and go take a few courses in that subject (you don't have to get another degree). Work any job you can tolerate that will allow you to go to school/study at the same time.
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