Resources for Students
Graduate School Resources
Information Sources On The Web
- The American Mathematical Society has an impressive collection of resources.
- The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics also provides a lot.
- The American Statistical Association has an Education section on its website. Click on the "Graduate" tab on the left.
- The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences covers a broad range of math-related careers that undergraduates may not be familiar with.
There are several national fellowships that can be applied for over the web, although these are highly competitive and available only to U.S. citizens.
- The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.
- The National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowships (funded by the Department of Defense).
- The National Physical Science Consortium Graduate Fellowships in Science and Engineering (funded by the national labs and the NSA).
- The Society Of Industrial and Applied Mathematics has information about fellowships. Scroll down to "For Graduate Students".
- This site has a wealth of information based on data collected by the National Research Council. While survey data is not the most reliable sort of data and fine distinctions between programs are particularly unreliable, this is a helpful place to start your search. Once you narrow your choices, web sites for individual departments and programs can help as well: http://www.graduate-school.phds.org/rankings
Information Sources Not On The Web
Another useful source of information about individual programs is the yearly article ''Doctoral Degrees Conferred'' in the August issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society, which is available in the Science Library. For example, if you plan to work on a doctorate and one of your initial choices is not producing many Ph.D.'s or not producing them in areas that interest you, this might be valuable to know.
A visit to one or more of your top choices can be very helpful. Talk to students there and visit the graduate adviser. A Grinnell student who went to that program could be a valuable resource; if you do not know any, department faculty and the Career Development Office may be able to help.
Graduate students in the sciences can generally count on substantial financial aid. Although the national fellowships mentioned above are hard to get, you should inquire about a fellowship or teaching assistantship at all the schools to which you apply. Research assistantships often become available to students who do well in their initial years.
The American Statistical Association provides some explanation of the multiple types of careers a statistician may have.
Every December, a list of statistics internship opportunities for students is published in the education area of the ASA's website, along with additional listings as they come in.
Students interested in careers in Statistics or Biostatistics are encouraged to speak with Professor Shonda Kuiper or Professor Jeff Jonkman. The ASA provides career profiles, education and training information, and tools and resources for a career in biostatistics.
The association's website, Be an Actuary, provides a very nice explanation of this career choice. The Casualty Actuarial Society has a website called CAS Student Central that is for students interested in becoming a Property/Casualty Actuary. On it there are resources including study aids, skill-building tips, access to free job-specific webinars, invitations to networking events, etc.
Each year several Grinnell students take the actuarial exams, and sometimes there are study groups prepping together for these exams. We do have study materials for these exams on reserve for students as well. Recent Grinnell graduates who work in this field have offered the following suggestions:
- Courses containing exam material include: Probability and Statistics, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Corporate Finance, Econometrics.
- Take Computer Science courses. This is a very important skill set that we use all of the time particularly in running actuarial models using various modeling systems and developing macros using Visual Basic for Excel.
- Two exams is what most companies look for in interns and full-time hires.
- Do not underestimate the actuarial exams. Everyone attempting them believes they are smart, and most of the time rightly so; yet pass ratios are very low. A lot of time and effort needs to be put into studying even if you are excellent at math. Be ready to put the time in.
- Try to take exams while you're in school.
- In the absence of two exams, Grinnell students must find ways to highlight strengths like communication (written or oral) and critical thinking, which are hallmarks of a liberal arts education and vital in our profession.
- Some roles are less about actuarial exams and more about a background in statistics, quantitative analysis, and presentation of such work.
- An alum at a small insurance company recommended students uninterested in taking exams should look for openings in "pricing" at small carriers.
- Keep up with the actuarial community and hiring time frames:
- Be looking for internships early. I have seen a handful of Grinnell students requesting an internship in the spring, which is well after we are done with our recruiting.
- Join an actuarial group at one of the nearby universities; or at least get on their mailing lists so that you can stay in the loop. Drake and the University of Iowa both have thriving actuarial communities.
- Stay abreast of recruiting events at Drake and The University of Iowa. Both schools have actuarial career fairs.
- Prepare for your interviews. Polish your selling points.
- There is a ton of opportunity in Property and Casualty Insurance as a career field.
- For job searching, use the alumni network.
- Take advantage of externships.