Graduate profile - Mark Skipper
"All through school my strongest subject was mathematics and I continued my studies in this area all the way through to degree level.  Plymouth was not my first choice of university however I am glad that events lead me to study here.  Plymouth as a city is lovely, big enough to have everything you need (including nightlife) but small enough for you to generally not need to use a car.  My time spent here I remember as the best three years of my life.  The easy going culture of this city and the people within it made studying that much less stressful.

With regards to studying at Plymouth, I found that the staff were supportive and nearly always available which was a relief after hearing horror stories of absent lecturers with bad attitudes from my friends at other universities.  I really cannot fault the teaching staff who were willing to go well out of their way to help out.  

Between my second and third year I took a year out and undertook a placement at the Department for Communities and Local Government within the Housing Markets and Planning Analysis division.  Here I worked within the planning team publishing statistics and working within the team designing a new publications system.  My studies up to that point had prepared me well for the work that was being carried out here and it took me very little time to integrate with the team and get working.  It was a shame to leave after the year but the experience would prove invaluable (plus the pay was pretty good too).

My third year focused a lot on statistics with my final year project involving the modelling of financial time series.  I came out of my third year with a 2:1.  Initially I was unsure whether I would be disadvantaged over some of my colleagues who got came out with a first to their names.  This was not the case at all. I did however start my job hunting early, starting half way through my third year.  One thing I found was that a mathematics degree is truly about as flexible a degree as there is.  The variety of jobs available meant that I was spoilt for choice when it came to applying for positions despite all the media coverage about the national shortage of jobs.  After lots of interviews with a variety of companies an offer came out of the blue from the Ministry of Defence on one of their graduate schemes.  

I am now on the Defence Engineering and Science Group (DESG) graduate scheme.  Within two years I am to re-grade into a permanent post within Air Command where I shall resume my career as an operational analyst.

I am 6 months into my scheme and enjoying every minute of it.  I spent the first four months at RAF Coningsby in Lincoln working at 17 squadron Test and Evaluation unit within their operational analysis team.  Here I was working alongside RAF personnel in a squadron environment.  My role was to aid statistical analysis and modelling for trials on the Eurofighter Typhoon and the multitude of upgrades being undertaken.  I worked on height ranging as well as modelling Radar accuracy against missile performance.  Working on a military base where you have some of the most advanced aircraft in the world parked “out back” was a truly great experience.  I am currently on placement in London within the Capability Theatre Airspace team carrying out a stock take of all last year’s research within the Air Defence domain.  

The combination of my placement year and maths degree at Plymouth University has allowed me to get this great position which I am currently enjoying but also allows me the flexibility to move into other areas should I so please.  As such I would definitely recommend doing a maths degree at Plymouth."