Preparing for Your Career While in Graduate School

Mathematicians pursue a wide range of careers. As a graduate student, there are different things you can do to prepare for different career paths, and this page contains a number of suggestions with an eye toward different career paths. However, the best advice is the same across any career path: talk to people who are doing the kind of work you are interested in! There are many UK PhD alumni working in academia, business, industry, and government, and they are always happy to help current graduate students learn about their career path. Attend any UK Mathematics alumni activities, and talk to faculty and the Director of Graduate Studies if you are interested in connecting with a UK alumni working in a career of interest to you.

Note that many careers involve more than one of these categories! For example, most academic positions include a mix of research and teaching. Some positions in business, industry, and government involve teaching or professional development leadership, for which academic teaching as a grad student is good preparation. 

In general, the best advice is to do things as a graduate student that you are passionate about so that you can build a record that reflects your authentic interests and skills.

What can I do to prepare for a career involving...

  • academic research?
    • attend research conferences, both as a participant and a speaker, including conferences specifically for graduate students
    • check the arxiv for new preprints in your area
    • practice giving talks about research-level mathematics, either in the GSC colloquium or department seminars or as part of a reading group
    • apply for workshops and summer programs for graduate students hosted by MSRI, IPAM, ICERM, IAS, SAMSI, and other research centers
  • academic teaching?
    • spend time as both a recitation leader and a primary instructor
    • apply for leadership positions such as MathExcel and Lead TA
    • attend the Teaching and Learning Seminar and learn about new ideas and teaching techniques
    • collaborate with faculty and peers on the courses you teach
  • business, industry, and government?
    • ​participate in a summer internship
    • learn about different career paths in industry -- some are more leadership-focused, some are more focused on software engineering, some are more focused on data analysis, etc
    • create a linkedin account (alumni tell us that this is actually quite important)
    • ask the DGS to connect you with alumni working in business and industry, so that you can get first-hand advice on how to find the type of job you are interested in
  • everything!
    • no matter what your career interests are, you will benefit from being engaged in student organizations and activities, both in the department/university and through professional societies or other organizations
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