Dr Rana Moyeed
Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) and Employability Tutor
Many employers regard a degree in mathematics as a highly desirable precursor to many exciting careers; the range is by no means limited to roles where there is an obvious and immediate use of the technical skills you learnt during your degree. For example, attention to detail is often listed as a core personal attribute in the person specification of many graduate roles. By studying mathematics you are learning within a discipline that applies real rigour; statements have precise meanings and any deductions you draw are clear and unambiguous.
In addition to this, fully engaging with a mathematics degree means that you should learn to use your imagination when solving problems. This ability to be creative yet logical and rigorous when solving problems can make you attractive to many employers. And ultimately, being trained in mathematical thinking means that you should be good at abstraction – you learn to see the essential features of a problem and hence can identify whether the underlying properties are similar to other problems. If you find these patterns you reduce your problem space to one where you can apply a known solution rather than having to invent entirely new ones.
Taking a placement year gives you an unrivalled opportunity to hone all these skills in the broadest sense in a workplace. Quite often this can mean developing these competencies away from technique based mathematical problems. A placement will help you develop across a wide range of mathematical and non-mathematical aspects of working life. In this context you can see the value of attention to detail, creative problem solving and abstraction in a whole host of areas. This means these valuable skills can be more fully developed before you later enter the workplace as a graduate.
Developing these generic skills in the workplace also puts you in a stronger position for studying mathematics in the final year. In addition to this, all the usual reasons for taking a placement year apply; you get to work with an employer and demonstrate to future employers that you are a good choice for any roles they may have.
Martin Burdett's placement with Amlin
My career development has benefited enormously from undertaking my placement, I was fortunate enough to take part in numerous courses and qualifications to increase my knowledge and employability.More from Martin on his placement as a Catastrophe Modeller
Elizabeth Goult's placement with Plymouth Marine Laboratory
The placement has brought me a wealth of experience that I will be able to bring with me to the next role that I apply for. I now feel that I have the confidence to approach a new job knowing that I have been successful in the role I have filled this yearMore from Elizabeth on her placement as a programmer
Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Plymouth Community Homes
National Air Traffic Services