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Maths student, don't know what to do with my life watch

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    I'm a 4th year MMath student at a top 5 uni, and I don't know what to do with my life when I graduate. I'm on track to graduate with a strong first (80-85%), and some people in the department are recommending that I do a PhD in pure mathematics. Whilst I love maths, and that I'd probably enjoy doing research (as I am currently doing in my masters project), I don't know if I should do that or go for something which is financially more lucrative. If I did a PhD I can expect (if I received funding) about £16,000 per year. It's definitely enough for me to live on, but there's no guarantee I'll be able to get a post-doc job afterwards, not to mention that it'll be 3-4 years where I won't have the opportunity to get a job.

    Coming from a poor family, and having grown up with nothing, I learned to be frugal from a young age, and even today, I never spend any money on myself. I don't go on holidays, I almost never go out, and I only ever buy what is necessary to live on (essentials -- food, utility bills, toiletries, etc). In this frame of mind, I feel like I don't care what I earn as long as it is enough for me to survive on. On the other hand, that mindset could change in ten years time.

    I'm applying for internships in finance at the moment to do when I've graduated, to increase my employability. While careers in finance pay very well, I don't know if I'll enjoy it unless there is a strong mathematical side to it.

    Should I go on to do a PhD, earning enough to survive on but doing what I love, or should I just try to secure employment after I graduate and start saving money for the future (like funeral expenses or a house deposit)?
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    It really depends on what you want to do with your life. Do you want to work in finance or do you want to work in academia or do you want to do that PhD and then see where it takes you? A PhD doesn't necessarily mean being an academic and there's plenty else you can do with it. Either way you will definitely earn enough to survive.
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    (Original post by alleycat393)
    It really depends on what you want to do with your life. Do you want to work in finance or do you want to work in academia or do you want to do that PhD and then see where it takes you? A PhD doesn't necessarily mean being an academic and there's plenty else you can do with it. Either way you will definitely earn enough to survive.
    That's the thing though, they don't really know what to do next. the details are in the post


    (Original post by Anonymous)
    I'm a 4th year MMath student at a top 5 uni, and I don't know what to do with my life when I graduate. I'm on track to graduate with a strong first (80-85%), and some people in the department are recommending that I do a PhD in pure mathematics. Whilst I love maths, and that I'd probably enjoy doing research (as I am currently doing in my masters project), I don't know if I should do that or go for something which is financially more lucrative. If I did a PhD I can expect (if I received funding) about £16,000 per year. It's definitely enough for me to live on, but there's no guarantee I'll be able to get a post-doc job afterwards, not to mention that it'll be 3-4 years where I won't have the opportunity to get a job

    Coming from a poor family, and having grown up with nothing, I learned to be frugal from a young age, and even today, I never spend any money on myself. I don't go on holidays, I almost never go out, and I only ever buy what is necessary to live on (essentials -- food, utility bills, toiletries, etc). In this frame of mind, I feel like I don't care what I earn as long as it is enough for me to survive on. On the other hand, that mindset could change in ten years time.

    I'm applying for internships in finance at the moment to do when I've graduated, to increase my employability. While careers in finance pay very well, I don't know if I'll enjoy it unless there is a strong mathematical side to it.

    Should I go on to do a PhD, earning enough to survive on but doing what I love, or should I just try to secure employment after I graduate and start saving money for the future (like funeral expenses or a house deposit)?
    As a third year maths student I don't really know about phds etc but if if I were in that situation I'd think twice about a PhD unless there was an area I really wanted to study and enjoyed the challengh, I wouldn't see it as an alternative to working just to avoid work... if that makes sense.

    I would say try some internships and get the actual experience before deciding whether it's what you enjoy and how much maths is actually involved and whether there's something else that might surprise you in finance that's interesting. That's my experience anyway, I'm a placement analyst at the moment and there's some statistical modelling involved as well as some coding, so it's kind of maths, though there are bits interesting other than the maths.
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    unlucky mate
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    (Original post by SeanFM)
    That's the thing though, they don't really know what to do next. the details are in the post
    And it's something they need to sit down and think about and then work out where to go next. It's great that you have experience to share but that doesn't negate the fact that the OP needs to do their own thinking and make up their own mind
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    (Original post by alleycat393)
    And it's something they need to sit down and think about and then work out where to go next. It's great that you have experience to share but that doesn't negate the fact that the OP needs to do their own thinking and make up their own mind
    Of course it doesn't negate it by me sharing my experience of studying maths and having a job kind of related to maths, I hopefully gave them a kind insight and perhaps some more questions to ask me or you or anyone else who may reply I'm not sure what point you're trying to make but I'll leave it here and wish the OP good luck
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    I'm a 4th year MMath student at a top 5 uni, and I don't know what to do with my life when I graduate. I'm on track to graduate with a strong first (80-85%), and some people in the department are recommending that I do a PhD in pure mathematics. Whilst I love maths, and that I'd probably enjoy doing research (as I am currently doing in my masters project), I don't know if I should do that or go for something which is financially more lucrative. If I did a PhD I can expect (if I received funding) about £16,000 per year. It's definitely enough for me to live on, but there's no guarantee I'll be able to get a post-doc job afterwards, not to mention that it'll be 3-4 years where I won't have the opportunity to get a job.

    Coming from a poor family, and having grown up with nothing, I learned to be frugal from a young age, and even today, I never spend any money on myself. I don't go on holidays, I almost never go out, and I only ever buy what is necessary to live on (essentials -- food, utility bills, toiletries, etc). In this frame of mind, I feel like I don't care what I earn as long as it is enough for me to survive on. On the other hand, that mindset could change in ten years time.

    I'm applying for internships in finance at the moment to do when I've graduated, to increase my employability. While careers in finance pay very well, I don't know if I'll enjoy it unless there is a strong mathematical side to it.

    Should I go on to do a PhD, earning enough to survive on but doing what I love, or should I just try to secure employment after I graduate and start saving money for the future (like funeral expenses or a house deposit)?
    If you feel strongly about mathematics and really want to go on to study it further then why not do a PhD? Do whatever you want to do because you don't want to end up hating what your doing.
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    (Original post by alleycat393)
    It really depends on what you want to do with your life. Do you want to work in finance or do you want to work in academia or do you want to do that PhD and then see where it takes you? A PhD doesn't necessarily mean being an academic and there's plenty else you can do with it. Either way you will definitely earn enough to survive.
    I don't particularly want to work in finance, no. Not unless there is a mathematical/technical component to my job. I've been thinking about doing a PhD because I love maths rather than the opportunities it offers. However, there is plenty I can do already with a Masters in maths, and I don't want to spend 4 years working intensely on a PhD just to do a job afterwards which I could have got without a PhD.
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    (Original post by SeanFM)
    That's the thing though, they don't really know what to do next. the details are in the post




    As a third year maths student I don't really know about phds etc but if if I were in that situation I'd think twice about a PhD unless there was an area I really wanted to study and enjoyed the challengh, I wouldn't see it as an alternative to working just to avoid work... if that makes sense.

    I would say try some internships and get the actual experience before deciding whether it's what you enjoy and how much maths is actually involved and whether there's something else that might surprise you in finance that's interesting. That's my experience anyway, I'm a placement analyst at the moment and there's some statistical modelling involved as well as some coding, so it's kind of maths, though there are bits interesting other than the maths.
    Thanks for sharing your experience. You are correct that I may implicitly favour a PhD to avoid the risk of having a career in something which I don't feel very optimistic about. My own personal fears, I guess. As for doing a PhD, I've really enjoyed the last 3/4 years or my degree, and am currently doing a masters project in which me and my supervisor have proved some small number-theoretic results on an open problem. If I did a PhD I'd like to do more research in the field I'm working in.

    I've applied for some internships in finance, mostly actuarial ones, just so I'm not sitting on my butt over the summer looking for a job upon graduation. I've heard there is a lot of opportunity to use analytical skills in actuarial science, so I'll give it a try and see if I like doing it. My problem, however, is that I haven't done any statistics since A-level, unless you count probability from a measure-theoretic POV.
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    (Original post by Transitory)
    If you feel strongly about mathematics and really want to go on to study it further then why not do a PhD? Do whatever you want to do because you don't want to end up hating what your doing.
    My main worry is employability. I don't have any relevant work experience, because (being the idiot that I am), I did maths research projects over the summer with members of staff instead of seeking out internships (which probably would have been a better use of my time). If I decided to do a PhD, I wouldn't have the time to do an internship (unless it was a part-time PhD, but I don't want to do that). I feel that in some sense, if I made it out alive to the end of my PhD, I'd be in a similar situation to the one I am now -- with lots of mathematical knowledge but no relevant work experience.

    My other worry is that I'm not good enough for a PhD. My grades are good, and I have managed to do some original research in my thesis. On the other hand, I feel like I mostly got lucky thanks to my supervisor who gave me a project which I don't feel was particularly difficult. I don't know if I'll have the necessary resilience to do the same thing with a tougher workload and even more difficult problems.
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    What internships have you done in the 4 years you've been at university and what have you enjoyed?
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    My main worry is employability. I don't have any relevant work experience, because (being the idiot that I am), I did maths research projects over the summer with members of staff instead of seeking out internships (which probably would have been a better use of my time). If I decided to do a PhD, I wouldn't have the time to do an internship (unless it was a part-time PhD, but I don't want to do that). I feel that in some sense, if I made it out alive to the end of my PhD, I'd be in a similar situation to the one I am now -- with lots of mathematical knowledge but no relevant work experience.

    My other worry is that I'm not good enough for a PhD. My grades are good, and I have managed to do some original research in my thesis. On the other hand, I feel like I mostly got lucky thanks to my supervisor who gave me a project which I don't feel was particularly difficult. I don't know if I'll have the necessary resilience to do the same thing with a tougher workload and even more difficult problems.
    I hadn't read this before my post. It makes it redundant.
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    My main worry is employability. I don't have any relevant work experience, because (being the idiot that I am), I did maths research projects over the summer with members of staff instead of seeking out internships (which probably would have been a better use of my time). If I decided to do a PhD, I wouldn't have the time to do an internship (unless it was a part-time PhD, but I don't want to do that). I feel that in some sense, if I made it out alive to the end of my PhD, I'd be in a similar situation to the one I am now -- with lots of mathematical knowledge but no relevant work experience.

    My other worry is that I'm not good enough for a PhD. My grades are good, and I have managed to do some original research in my thesis. On the other hand, I feel like I mostly got lucky thanks to my supervisor who gave me a project which I don't feel was particularly difficult. I don't know if I'll have the necessary resilience to do the same thing with a tougher workload and even more difficult problems.
    If you feel that you will lack in grade and work wise for a PhD then you might as well get a job. At least once you have a job you will have more experience work wise and you can determine what sort of job you would like to do.
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    Economics PhDs fair head and shoulders better than maths in terms of employability. In the corporate, government and academic sectors, there are plenty of jobs. It's probably the one graduate degree that is worth getting besides the MBA for a career reset.

    Interested in game theory, stats, probability?
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    you clearly have a passion for maths and judging by your grades I would definitely recommend you do a PHD as it would be something you'd enjoy
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    (Original post by fefssdf)
    you clearly have a passion for maths and judging by your grades I would definitely recommend you do a PHD as it would be something you'd enjoy
    lifestyle PhDs (such as those in pure mathematics with no immediate transferable skills) have to be done with the knowledge and willingness that it is not entirely employable and will in either case live poorly for the next 3+ years, of course.

    Enjoying 4 or 5 years doing research is one thing - the question is whether that's what he seriously wants to do and if it fails whether he is willing to settle for a job he probably would have been able to get after his undergraduate degree.
 
 
 
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