Advice from a BA graduate now in industry in Data Analysis
Informal Advice
 

last edit September 13, 2016

Some comments from graduated Mathematics student who in 2016 was currently working to help develop an app.
These are comments from a student . . . . . .

On the topic of how well my experience with the UBC math department prepared me, I'd say that I was happy with my education in that regard. I knew that choosing a BA degree (I double majored in economics and math) wasn't going to give me specific job skills, and it didn't, so that met my expectations. That being said, going through four years of coursework before really getting to apply anything I'd learned was a bit too long of a span. I worked part time in the position I am in now for my fifth calendar year at UBC and I can say that that added the most to my education. I was able to better tailor my course choices and effort within courses to suit my career interests at that point. I wish I would have had that on-the-job experience earlier on in my time at UBC. I think the co-op program is really genius, though the offerings through Arts Co-op are a little misaligned with what math majors should be exposed to. The courses I value most at UBC are:
  • More applied math courses like MATH 441 and MATH 307 (Prof. Donaldson was really great at encouraging students to try working in industry, and the topics in 307 are applicable to scaling algorithms)
  • MATH 302/303 have been very influential in the work I do now
  • Proof-heavy courses (MATH 320, MATH 442, MATH 312) while not applicable directly definitely taught me how to think mathematically and rigorously so I value them highly
  • The required computer science courses (I found CPSC 110 underwhelming but really found value in 210)
  • Some statistics courses (I didn't get much out of the teaching there but it was an important introduction to an important field)


  • You also mentioned that my experience in entering the work force might be helpful for other students. I was always very stressed while at UBC trying to figure out what I wanted to do with a math degree. I started down the actuarial track, which still isn't completely out of the picture for me, because it was a straightforward career choice. Now, as I mentioned, I do data analysis for a payments company called Eigen Development (http://eigenpayments.com) and a lot of what I do involves research and self-study on statistical and machine learning methods to apply to the business. I'm very glad that I found a job that interests me in the industry. I'm sure one day I'll want to go to graduate school to improve my skills but I love working on building cool tools and solving business problems. I feel like many of my friends entered into a "panic Masters" when they couldn't find a suitable job right away and I'm glad that I get to explore hands-on uses before deciding on further study. I'm happy to expand on anything I've mentioned above or answer any questions! And like I said, I really enjoyed taking 441 with you. My group partner and I had a blast on that gangster problem and I think working on larger scale projects like that is an important component of any undergrad degree. I'm happy to hear that you continue to offer it.