What should a math grad do for a year?
August 28, 2008 1:29 PM   Subscribe

I'll graduate with a BS in mathematics in June. I plan on taking exactly one year off before entering a PhD program. What should I do during this time off, and what steps should I be taking now?

I'm taking a year off because I feel my application will be much stronger at the end of this year.

I would like to strengthen it by finding a temporary, paid job (internship?) in industry that lets me work alongside applied mathematicians, and that would look fairly impressive to graduate programs.

My university is holding a career fair next month, which I plan on attending, but I feel like those companies are more interested in hiring for the long-term.

I'm also having trouble finding companies that hire college graduates for internship programs. It seems most require the student to continue attending school after finishing the work. (Regrettably, my last few summers were not very productive.)

Are there any programs or companies that cater towards students with plans similar to mine? I know taking a year off is common. What do students do during this time, besides travel? How can I make the most out of this break, and when should I start looking?

Some possibly-relevant information:
a) I am not interested in finance, accounting, or actuarial science.
b) My main interest is discrete mathematics, though I can be flexible.
c) I can program, and have experience using scientific software.
d) I do not plan on staying in academia if I do get a doctorate degree, so just a masters is also a path that is being considered.

Any advice/ideas would be greatly appreciated!
posted by alligatorman to Education (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Take all the necessary entrance exams (GRE, etc.) this year, before you graduate. I waited until a year after and I can tell that my math and verbal skills deteriorated quite severely. Even after I studied very hard and re-took the GRE, I still felt that I did not live up to my senior-year potential.

If you can work from July 2009 - August 2010, then I would just get a real, entry-level job? Seriously, it happens all the time. Of the 6 college graduates who started at the same time I did, 3 left after one year and one month on the job to go back to school (it is rather common for people to prevaricate about their long-term goals).
posted by muddgirl at 2:48 PM on August 28, 2008

Los Alamos hires some people on a short term basis. They have internships, but you might need to be enrolled as a student to be eligible for those.
posted by metastability at 2:59 PM on August 28, 2008

if your just looking for something slightly different to do in between, my sister went to south korea for a year to teach english at a private school. it offers cultural experience, looks good on resumes and they pay your rent and airfare so its a great way to pay off some of those student loans.
posted by docmccoy at 11:07 PM on August 28, 2008

Wolfram Research.
posted by hAndrew at 12:18 AM on August 31, 2008

Corrected link: Wolfram Research.
posted by hAndrew at 12:19 AM on August 31, 2008

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