What are our alumni doing?
Graduation Year: ’19
Major(s) and minor(s): math and statistics majors
Current position: IT Project Lead
Employer: Auto-Owners Insurance
The most helpful aspects of my undergraduate education in mathematics were: One experience that stands out was my project-based industrial math class (MTH 498, I don’t know what it’s called now). In this class, I got to practice communicating professionally with “stakeholders” about a real project. I now do this every single day and am glad I got to give status reports and formal presentations to real professionals while still in college. My other favorite part of the class was working with a team. My team for this class had varying skills. Being able to scout out strengths and delegate tasks based on those skills is something that while not explicitly taught in class was a huge takeaways that makes me particularly good at my job. Being able to operate on a team that functions so smoothly (seriously, 2019 city of Grand Rapids team was the best!) has helped me identify disfunction on the teams that I lead now. I really loved collaborating with classmates all throughout my college career but that class was definitely my favorite academic experience.
The advice I’d offer to current undergraduate students in mathematics: I would advise people to think about what drew them into mathematics and look for careers that align with those passions. For me, I wasn’t terribly excited about writing proofs or derivatives. What I liked about math was challenging myself to think about things from unique perspectives, breaking down complex ideas, and collaborating with my peers. While I don’t do any math more complicated than addition and subtraction at my current job, I still use many of the skills that I honed during my math education.
I also would recommend that students talk to their classmates in school. It can be easy to keep your head down and grind through class without connecting with your peers. However, you would be surprised how much there is to gain from these relationships after graduation. You never know who is going to end up working at your dream company or in a role that you’ve always been curious about. Connect on LinkedIn now and benefit from those relationships for the rest of your career. Business students aren’t totally off when they say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!
In a typical day in my work, I: I support a team of IT and business associates in order to complete IT projects that meet the needs of our stakeholders. This involves communicating with stakeholders to understand business requirements, formulating a project plan with accurate estimates, keeping the project team motivated and focused, and facilitating conversations along the way to keep different teams on the same page. My favorite thing about my job is coaching and supporting my team through different successes and challenges. Since I work so closely with them everyday, I’m in a unique position to recommend my teammates for promotions and other opportunities.
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