NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences
Job and Career Information
The Department of Mathematical Sciences seeks to help students develop an understanding of the concepts and applications of mathematics. This is not, in general, direct training for a particular profession, but can prepare students for a number of careers. As an added service to students, we try to help you learn about permanent or temporary positions, including internships, for which majors in the mathematical sciences are particularly well suited.
For more information about job and career opportunities, be sure to consult with an advisor in the department (for general information about career choices) and visit the Career Services in the Campus Life Building.
The internship and job fairs are held in the Convocation Center on campus, typically from 10 am until 3 pm. Students should dress professionally, and arrive promptly. Bring copies of your resume. (You will find the staff at Career Counseling to be helpful for this.)
Special note to employers: Lists of candidates available for jobs may be obtained from the Director of Undergraduate Studies. School districts seeking available certified teachers must contact our Coordinator for Teacher Certification, Ms. Renee Olsen for complete lists and credentials.
The Math Major and the Job Market
Recently, Wall Street Journal confirms again that mathematician is the best of all professions. Here is the article (Jan. 26, 2009): "Doing the Math to Find the Good Jobs" or, its printable version. Clicking the website cited by the article, we can find more than 2510 mathematician jobs.
Let's face it, no one is going to pay you to write calculus equations. Your goal as a math major should certainly be to discover as much about the world of mathematics, and its potential applications, as you can. Society has given you a break in the sense that you have some time at university to be responsible mostly to yourself and your own future. But you should be developing yourself so that, upon graduation, you can contribute something back to society and, you hope, get paid for doing it.
Students who have not prepared for any particular post-collegiate experience (teaching, graduate studies, actuarial work, etc.) bear the responsibility of explaining to a prospective employer why they should hire a math major. Don't be shy! You're head-and-shoulders above the other majors when it comes to being a potential asset to almost any company or organization!
Present your training background well and you will come across as knowledgeable and clever, hard-working, showing attention to detail and accuracy, capable of handling complicated and abstract situations, and able to communicate clearly. You see these qualities all the time because you hang out with math majors. Believe me, they are as rare as hens' teeth in the population at large!
Students have reported that of all the things they have worked on in our program, the one thing that piques interest among employers is their MATH 360 course. Do a good job on the projects, then bring copies to job interviews -- employers may not understand differential equations, but they do understand the concept of minimizing cost!
Don't forget to mention, among your job skills, the fact that you have learned ``real'' computer programming and ``real'' statistics. (Check out the difference some time between CSCI 240 and CSCI 205, or STAT 350 versus STAT 208. Make sure your interviewer knows the difference too! Be prepared to discuss or show samples of what you can do with these tools.) It's not for nothing that we make you take these courses!
One other thing employers want to see is some real connection with their industry or service. You would do well to think of this very early in your college career and get involved in volunteer or other activities related to that activity. A bright student who has organized a food drive is more likely to get hired in a managerial office than an equally bright student who can only report that s/he can integrate trig functions. Take advantage of internships whenever possible, even if barely connected with your studies. (There are Internship Fairs listed above.) We have, for example, had students take a summer internship with an actuarial company, but even if you can't swing that (they are very competitive), it's a lot better to show you took an internship with WalMart Inc. than to report that you were a cashier there last summer.
Director of Undergraduate Studies:
Dr. Qingkai Kong
Career information and professional societies:
- NIU Career Services Discover internships and full-time positions
- NIU Major Weblinks: Mathematical Sciences Explore careers in mathematics and discover valuable math-related career websites
- AMS - American Mathematical Society
- MAA - Mathematical Association of America
- SIAM - Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
- NCTM - National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
- ASA - American Statistical Association
- Information from the National Bureau of Labor Statistics. See the description and assessment of career opportunities for Mathematicians.
- Nationwide directory of Master's degree programs in the data science field
- Extra-curricular activities in the department of Mathematical Sciences.
- Undergraduate programs in the NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences