Where are they now?
A degree in mathematics from GVSU can lead to a variety of careers. In this section of the newsletter, we will be highlighting career paths of our recent or past alumni to provide a window to the world of opportunities awaiting our graduates.
Neil Biegalle '10
Career Path: Immediately after graduating with a degree in mathematics from GVSU, I began my career with Auto-Owners Insurance in Lansing, MI. I started as an entry level software developer in the IT division and worked on the mainframe team developing COBOL applications. In 2011, I was offered a position in the Actuarial division, where I worked as an actuarial analyst in our Commercial Property and Liability lines, and then later in our Commercial Auto and Garage lines. In July of 2016, I was promoted to Administrator of Commercial Property and Liability Actuarial, and am currently serving in that position. I am actively pursuing my Associateship designation with the Casualty Actuarial Society.
Job responsibilities: As an administrator, I oversee a group of 12 associates who are collectively responsible for developing and maintaining adequate pricing for the multitude of insurance coverages that our Commercial Property and Liability lines of business offer. We are a Fortune 500 company and our line is responsible for managing over $1 billion in annual written premiums. We review rates annually for each of our 26 operating states to ensure they are both adequate and competitive. We also work regularly with Underwriting and IT to develop and implement new product offerings to keep us at the forefront of the insurance industry.
The best part of the job: My job offers a unique blend of data analysis and consideration of the business implications that pricing changes have in the real world. My group serves as a bridge between the advanced statistical work that is being done in the Actuarial division and the work of selling and writing policies that is being done within Marketing and Underwriting. I find the interdependence of these groups to be fascinating. I get the opportunity to work with many different people and to see many different perspectives, and I still get the satisfaction of using the analytical and problem-solving skills that I acquired through studying mathematics.
Advice to students:Network. Do it early, do it often, and take it seriously. Establish relationships with fellow students, take advantage of the availability and generosity of the wonderful GVSU math professors, and keep an eye out for internship opportunities and on-campus recruiting events. Almost every professional opportunity that I have been given has come as a result of a relationship that I formed by putting myself out there and networking.
Another piece of advice that I have is to not underestimate the value of soft skills. Technical skills are obviously important, but the ability to communicate effectively and to work well with others is equally important in the business world, if not more so. People with strong technical backgrounds and the ability to effectively communicate complicated ideas to a variety of audiences are hard to find, which makes them very desirable for employers.
Tony Ellero '13
Career path: After graduating with degrees in Mathematics and Economics, I went on to obtain an M.S. in applied mathematics from the University of Dayton. I completed a rotational internship at State Auto Insurance the summer before completing my master’s degree, and became more interested in analytics than any other area of the company that I was exposed to. I realized that I missed the behavioral aspect of economics from my undergraduate classes. I started my current position, marketing analyst, at Meijer in Grand Rapids right after my master’s degree and this position has proved to be a great fit for me.
Job responsibilities: As a marketing analyst, I am primarily responsible for measuring the effectiveness of past marketing campaigns and providing forecasts for future campaigns.
The best part of the job: I really enjoy collaborating with other analysts or teams to think differently about a problem than I would on my own. This was also my favorite part of studying math, and I use a similar approach.
Advice to students: Worry more about how much you like your classes than how difficult they are. Choose broad enough topics to give yourself several options.
Colin Van Dusseldorp '16
Career path: After graduating with a B.S. in Math and a minor in Statistics, I transitioned from the restaurant I was working at to their corporate office in Columbus, OH. I started as an accounting coordinator, but quickly moved into the fixed assets role. I will soon be moving into a bookkeeper position, which will open up even more opportunities within the company for me in the future.
Job responsibilities: The fixed assets team manages assets that are recognized as capital to accurately reflect the company’s worth. I work with the new restaurant development team as well as the company’s procurement teams to ensure that we capitalize and expense items properly. We have strict deadlines each month so that the shareholders have a clear view of the profits and losses. In the future, in my role as a bookkeeper, I will be more involved in in-depth analysis of the company assets, working with the various planning teams to ensure that the plans for new restaurants came in at budget.
The best part about the job: I am given a lot of freedom for working in a corporate office. I wear jeans and a t-shirt to work. We do a lot of team building to help us all work better together. When I have an idea, I am given time to explore it. That idea can range from impacting my department to the entire company. We are encouraged to grow and explore everything my company has to offer. I do not have an accounting and finance background, but they believe in me enough that they do not make that requirement to become a bookkeeper, en route to a financial accountant.
Advice to students: When interviewing for any position, you're going to need to sell yourself. Most companies will not care what you've done with differential equations or complex analysis. Remember the types of skills you learned throughout your education. It's things like problem solving, teamwork, analysis, and communication that companies can really benefit from. When I graduated in May 2016, I had 5 job offers from different companies as well as an internship offer. All of these roles were very different, but could take advantage of the skills learned throughout my math undergraduate. I chose the company that I thought would fit me best, and it just so happened that I had a history with them. I couldn't be happier with my choice.
If you would like to appear in this section, please send your information to one of the editors.