A college graduate in Math

A student wrote to me: “I will graduate in Mathematics next month and start to look for a job. My parents wanted me to work as a software developer but I do not like to work for a software company. Currently, I do not know what else I could do? What do I need to be happy? Please advise.”

Answer: Many college graduates focused on finding a job AFTER they graduated. That is too late because most good jobs were taken. I always advise my students to start looking and applying for jobs at the beginning of their fourth year or at least six months BEFORE they graduate. Unless your field of study is in high demand and there is a shortage, most companies begin to hire workers at least six months BEFORE the June graduation date.

Many students believe that having a degree in math, all they can do is either be a math teacher or if they have programming skill they may work as software engineer. That is NOT correct. Do not limit yourself to these traditional choices. There are more opportunities for people with math skills, so take your time to explore other opportunities such as Actuarial analyst, Finance accountant, Data analyst, and Investment analyst etc.

No matter where you work, put in your passion and do your best. New skills can be learned, the experience can be accumulated over time, but passionate attitude comes from inside. Approach every task as a new opportunity to learn and a new challenge that you must overcome then you will do well. Please remember that your formal education may be over, but learning is a lifelong journey so never stop learning . The knowledge and skills you have today will change in the future because soon some skills will be obsolete if you do not learn something new. My advice is to read more and keep an open mind to all changes that come. Keep asking questions of yourself and read more books to find the right answers. The lifelong learning is the best thing you can do in this fast-changing world.

Finally, and most importantly, is to understand that happiness comes from within. Be gentle with yourself and knowing that it is you who make a decision on your life. Your life is a journey with many ups and downs so do not expect it will always be clear or your destination will remain constant. Things will change and you will change with it because nothing is the same so your career must be flexible. You are responsible for yourself and have a responsibility for your family, your society, and your country so never do anything without thinking about the consequences.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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