The aim of this blog is to educate Maths PhD students (as well as their lecturers, career counsellors and the general public) on potential careers in industry available to them. The good news is that maths/STEM PhDs are in great demand in very attractive careers.
There’s no doubt that a vast number of career options are open to graduates with mathematical talent and education. A good example is this list of 85 job descriptions of mathematicians working in industry. I like this list because it gives concise descriptions of the various roles and as such gives a great insight into the skills required to do them. For this reason, finding the right career can seem like “finding a needle in haystack” situation. This is the main reason why this blog was created.
To further complicate this, I have noticed that most mathematician roles in industry rarely carry the title “mathematician”. They are often called various other names including but not limited to the following:
1. Business analyst
2. Software Engineer
3. Computer scientist
4. Research associate
5. Data scientist
6. Operations researcher
8. Basin modeller
13. Quantitative analyst
14. Financial Engineer
This is hardly surprising as applied mathematicians are so versatile and often find themselves in roles that are traditionally occupied by other science, technology and engineering graduates alike. Consequently, the general public do not have a true appreciation of what mathematicians really do apart from the glaringly obvious teaching of mathematics. The job titles are often a reflection of the work environment a mathematician may be working rather than the background/skills required to get the job done. Not surprisingly, a quick search on google looking for “mathematician jobs” in industry may not necessarily yield very much. My first advice for maths PhD graduates is not to dismiss any role based on its job title but to pay particular attention to the job description before making a decision. As a maths PhD student myself, I will be sharing my own discoveries which I hope will be of some use to other research students. I plan to update this page on a weekly basis so please do visit again for additional information.
1. The first resource I’m going to recommend can be found on the society for industrial and applied mathematics website. This website is packed with lots of useful resources on destinations of maths PhD students and a lot of case studies of mathematicians working in industry-definitely worth a look. You can also download their brochure and read in your spare time. It seems to me that a mathematician is a true jack of all trades and master of all! Alongside this, I would also highly recommend the American society of mathematics website.
2. This website is packed with lots of quality information about various career options for maths graduates. Although, some of the first few links are no longer working, don’t be put off by this. I really recommend the financial mathematics section for those interested in this line of work.
3. Internships: An internship experience can serve as a straight entry route which allows you to explore a company and indeed secure that dream job. Most internships for PhD students are paid and these are usually offered in the penultimate year. For example, here is a list of companies offering PhD students internships in quantitative finance. Some companies however offer off cycle internships meaning you can apply anytime even after completion of your PhD.
4. This is a general website from the university of manchester containing adverts for jobs outside academia-very useful if you don’t know where to start from.
List of Companies specifically recruiting PhD applicants
A Phd in mathematics is a very valuable qualification to have on a CV. However, as valuable as it is, not all companies specifically recruit PhD talents into industrial roles. This unfortunately means PhD graduates may have to compete with Masters or even undergraduates (very annoying if you ask me). Hence, it is worth targeting companies with specific roles and schemes for PhD graduates (Google, McKinsey and Co, PWC, companies recruiting quantitative analysts, pharmaceutical companies, data analysis and tech companies, GCHQ, etc)
All in all, I think it’s important to really make a list of skills that each PhD graduate feels they can offer and target companies who are after those skills. For example, google is very keen to employ PhD graduates who have strong skills in software development, machine learning and statistics.