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Career Opportunities

Most people who study mathematics initially have very little idea of the sort of career they wish to pursue. A survey of third and fourth year mathematics students at TCD in 1992 found that twelve had started with a definite career plan while thirty-two had not and many of the twelve changed their plan while at College. Recently, a student about to start first year who wanted to become an actuary, was seriously concerned as to whether to accept an offer of direct entry to an insurance company from his Leaving Certificate or to do a degree first. We advised the degree and to keep his options open. He has since graduated and gone on to a well paid position in the Financial Analysis department of a London bank. Should he decide this is not for him, he still has the option of studying to be an actuary but with a mathematical maturity that his earlier starting colleagues will never attain. He is also considering obtaining a postgraduate qualification in applied statistics. The best advice is:

Unless and until you are very sure, keep your career options open.

Careers chosen by mathematicians fall into three categories.

Those directly related to mathematics. These include all forms of teaching and academic work, and a variety of positions in industry or the Civil Service which involve using the mathematical, statistical, and computing knowledge they have acquired. Increasingly this includes positions in information technology and in finance where deep mathematical results are used and even derived.

It is widely accepted that for such careers the path should be mathematics in depth first and then finance, information technology, or other applications.

Those that involve thinking logically and quantitatively. Typically these include actuarial, accountancy, banking, etc.

Careers that are open to graduates of many areas.

What gives mathematics graduates a head start in competition for posts in categories two and three is that employers are aware that regardless of the particular courses that have been taken, all such graduates have highly developed problem-solving skills. It is recognised that success in maths requires the ability to master complex and difficult problems; a characteristic that gives mathematicians an edge in acquiring other skills quickly and efficiently.

Here are some quotes from a U.S. survey of mathematics graduates about their degrees and their career choices.

``I think the keys to success in any mathematics job are a love for problem solving, an inquisitive mind and willingness to learn new skills.'' A mathematician with the National Science Agency.
``Experience in mathematics allows for a way of thinking in a structured format. Corporations realise that many types of problems can be solved using the analytical thought processes that mathematics requires. A degree in mathematics provides the analytical skills and methods of decision making that are necessary in the working place today.'' Financial Analyst.
``I could have pursued the same career with a degree in Computer Science. Since Computer Science is constantly and rapidly changing, you always need to learn new things. These you can learn on the job. Studying mathematics gives you the tools to analyse problems and think logically, which helps in whatever profession you choose. People have great respect for a degree in mathematics.'' Self employed Computer Marketing Consultant.
``The real astonishment about my career is how deeply the study of mathematics has informed its every turn. Studying poetry or philosophy I find myself thinking in a mathematical way, not arithmetical, but full of love of analogy, mapping, abstraction and clarity.'' Cultural Critic, New York Times.
``I majored in mathematics because I liked the subject but I have used my training in more ways than I ever imagined possible.'' Marketing Manager, I.B.M.
``In the end you must do what really turns you on and not necessarily what is the most lucrative.'' Applied Mathematician, Rockwell Science Center.

Many referred to their mathematics degree as a gateway or jumping off point to a wide variety of careers. Disciplined study leading to unlimited opportunities is what a mathematics degree at Trinity College is all about. We encourage students to diversify their course choices. Opening doors in your mind will enable you to open many other doors in your life.

Next is a list of where all of our graduates went in the last four years. [Updated comparted to the printed Prospectus.]


1996 (18 graduates)

Further study (10)
Cambridge Maths dept., Manchester Maths dept., Trinity Maths dept. (2), U.C.D. Business dept., D.C.U. Accounting dept., Oxford Engineering dept., T.C.D. Computing Science dept. (2), T.C.D. Statistics dept.

In Employment (6)
Computer related (4) [3 in Dublin, 1 in UK], Currency trading (Dublin), School teaching (Dublin)

Travelling in Australia

Unemployed (1)

1997 (26 graduates)

Further study (8)
MIT Applied Mathematics, University abroad MSc in Operational Research, TCD MSc Computer Science (3), TCD MSc Numerical Analysis, unknown (2)

In Employment (10)
Actuary/Financial (5) [Actuary (3) in Dublin, Trainee Broker, Financial consultant], Computing/I.T. (3), Host manager Club International, Donegal Count Council.

No data (8)

1998 (21 graduates)

Further study (9)
Trinity Maths dept. (2), Trinity Computer Science dept. (2), Trinity Statistics dept., Durham Mathematics dept., Cambridge Statistics dept., LSE.

In Employment (10)
Computing/I.T. (7) [1 abroad], Finance/Accounting (2), Engineer (Ericsson).

Unemployed (2)

1999 (17 graduates)

Further study (4)
Trinity Maths dept. (2), Other Irish university, University abroad.

In Employment (9)
Financial (4) [Bank, Actuarial, Stockbroking, unknown], Computing/I.T., Travel consultant, Researcher, Civil servant, unknown.

Unemployed (3)

Two Subject Moderatorship

1996 (16 graduates)

Further study (8)
U.C.D. Maths dept., U.C.C. Maths dept., Abroad Maths dept., U.C.D. Business dept., Information Technology (2), Unknown (2).

In Employment (7)
Software Engineer, Banking, Business Analyst, Actuary, Trainee Manager, Clerical, Research Assistant.

Unknown (2).

1997 (7 graduates)

Further study (4)
MSc in Multi-Media Systems (TCD), MLitt (TCD), MSc in Evolutionary & Adaptive Systems, Grad Dip in Computer Engineering (UL).

In Employment (1)
Hibernian Insurance.

Unknown (2).

1999 (8 graduates)

Further study (3)
MLitt (TCD), HDip in Education (UCD), UCC.

In Employment (2)
Accountancy, Journalism.

Unemployed (1).

Theoretical Physics

1996 (4 graduates)

Further study (4)
Trinity Maths dept., Cambridge Maths dept., Trinity Physics dept., Trinity Genetics dept.

1997 (8 graduates)

Further study (6)
TCD MSc (4), Durham MSc Advanced Geophysics, USA.

In Employment (2)
Computing, Accountancy.

1998 (15 graduates)

Further study (8)
TCD, UCD (2), UCG, UU Coleraine, UK Universities (3).

In Employment (5)
Financial (2) [Actuarial, Derivatives], Computing, Administration (2).

1999 (10 graduates)

Further study (8)
TCD (4), Caltech, Rutgers, Durham, unknown.

In Employment (0)
Unknown (2)

Many modern careers involve further study beyond a Bachelor's degree, sometimes done while in employment, but frequently involving further study at a university or research institute. Academic employment in any form of third level college, almost always requires a Ph.D. By checking the above data you will notice that the proportion at study is very high, but far more interesting are the areas of study and universities chosen.

It should also be noted that the very high rate of Theoretical Physics students going for further study is not a reflection of their career prospects but their uniformly intense interest in their subject. It is also noteworthy that the low numbers graduating do not reflect a high dropout/failure rate as the quota was only recently raised from ten to twenty.

Graduates with any of the three mathematics degrees who show promise for teaching are usually welcomed into the H.Dip courses, and with a genuine shortage of well qualified mathematics teachers, they are far more fortunate than graduates of other subjects in landing permanent jobs.

The 1988 U.S. publication, `Jobs Rated Almanac', rates 250 jobs according to the following criteria: income, outlook, physical demands, security, stress, and work environment. Using these six components of job quality the top five in descending order were actuary, computer programmer, computer systems analyst, mathematician, statistician; all of these careers are open to our graduates.

Trinity College has a Careers Advisory Service which students are encouraged to contact in their final years. Much of the information contained here was furnished by them, and the Maths Department is very grateful for their support to the Department and to our students.

The combined Careers Services offices for all Irish Universities produce an annual survey of careers which includes a section on mathematics. Your School Careers Guidance Councillor should have a copy. `Your degree in Mathematical Sciences, what next?' published by the British Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, Crawford House, Precinct Centre, Manchester M13 9EP, is another helpful booklet. We gratefully acknowledge these sources in compiling this entry.