Non-Academic Careers

Graduate school and the post-docs that follow provide great freedom, both personally and academically. The opportunity to earn a living, albeit modest, while earning a PhD is an amazing privilege. Enjoy it, right now! Don’t blow it by stressing about the future.  Heed the wise words of Luis Serrano (UM PhD 2011), whose first job was a post-doc at the University of Quebec, but who has since worked at Google, Udacity and Apple: “If I had known how easy it is for a math PhD to find a fascinating 6-figure job in an amazing city, I would have worried less and enjoyed my academic career more.

The culture of elite Math PhD programs like Michigan often emphasizes preparation for academic careers. And being a professor is a great job. But it is only one of many great jobs for PhD mathematicians.  It is completely reasonable for highly trained mathematicians to seek to live in a particular city, or to want to make a lot of money, or to make an impact on society working on some issue about which they are passionate, such as cancer research or climate change. Michigan math PhDs are in high demand! This is true now more than ever: the data revolution has rendered high-level mathematics and problem solving stamina indispensible in virtually every human endeavor,  including computer vision for a robotic exoskeleton for paralysis patients.

All mathematicians should know something about these twenty-first century applications of mathematics: professors  need to understand the tremendous opportunities for their students and graduate students should be aware of the wide range of meaningful career options for math PhDs. Please check out some of these resources so that you will be informed!

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