From teaching to tech - updating resume and skills
April 4, 2011 10:22 PM   Subscribe

I have a Master's in math, and would like to get a job in the tech industry or a laboratory, but my resume is very teaching-oriented. I would like tips on retooling it to make myself more attractive. I also have several months to improve my skills.

I have done some basic undergraduate computer science classes - C++, data structures, assembler/processor design, and discrete math. I have also done some MATLAB and Mathematica programming in my grad program (primarily numerical solutions of ODEs and PDEs).

Here is my current resume.

This is the first time I have been looking for a job like this, so I may be a bit out of the loop on any unwritten rules. I do have four or five months before I would want to start this new job, so I would appreciate suggestions on improving my skills as well.

I have a somewhat cool idea for an app that would use some of my math and statistics knowledge - I have been planning on learning Python and coding it up. Is this worthwhile?
posted by Earl the Polliwog to Work & Money (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Just my suggestions:

I haven't redone my resume in a long time but tech industry/laboratory seems pretty broad to me. Do you have a more specific goal in mind? It's alright if you are testing the waters, just make multiple resumes tailored to that specific objective:

"My objective is to be computer programmer with an emphasis in C++, etc"
"My goal is to be a laboratory assistant working with etc"

You can bring out the characteristics of your previous work that applies to the objective of each resume. (Search online for other people's resumes for examples. Also ask yourself when you look at these resumes "Would I want to interview this person?") You will likely tweak your resume for specific job applications.

I would also suggest changing the wording of your experiences; those are also fairly generic. Put more adjectives/specifics/numbers/etc:

"Worked with students of varying ability and received excellent feedback." -> "Worked with over 300 students of varying ability (from basic mathematics to advanced calculus) and consistently received excellent ratings (4.5/5 average)"

In regards to programming languages, look around to see what the current job offers are and what languages they are asking for, just to get a feel for what would be good to know, then learning those languages that appeal to you. Maybe join the appropriate communities/collaborations.

And you should do your cool app idea. You can put that on your resume too after you've gotten something presentable done.
posted by Seboshin at 2:02 AM on April 5, 2011

Best answer: I think the first step is deciding what type of job you want to perform, in what industry etc. Then based on that determine the biggest gaps in your knowledge for that function to focus on over the next few months.

BTW, given that you're retooling for a new type job, you should have a function style version of you resume.

Good statistics knowledge has many applications in industry and research. It might be a good idea to use this as a base to identify particular jobs to focus your skills development on.

I think its always a good idea to pick up new skills and learning to write that app certainly qualifies. But time is not unlimited, so balance it out with whatever else you need to study.
posted by Long Way To Go at 8:44 AM on April 5, 2011

Tool your resumes to the job descriptions that interest you - but I think the function style comment is a good one. I don't know what kind of laboratory you're talking about, but I was at an industry event a few weeks ago where several life science leaders were on a panel, and there was huge agreement that math/programming types with some knowledge of biology have all kinds of opportunities available to them right now and moving forward - we're on the cusp of a bioinformatics boom & there just aren't enough folks with that combo of skills. Just mentioning in case it's relevant!
posted by deludingmyself at 9:32 AM on April 5, 2011

Lots of biological imaging labs benefit from programmers/statisticians to code custom tools for image analysis and data analysis, as well as come up with a way for them to analyze the data that they already have. It's surprising how many biological scientists have very weak statistical and general maths backgrounds.

Another possible line is in bioinformatics; but bioinformaticians tend to already have strong math/CS backgrounds.

Matlab is a general purpose tool that's pretty common; being able to write in it and coding user interfaces for Matlab programs are sought-after skills.

Maybe troll Michigan State's faculty pages. See if any of them are doing stuff that sounds interesting to you. Email them explaining what you're capable of and ask whether they could use your services. Even if a particular lab might not need your services, there's always word of mouth and potential introductions to other labs.
posted by porpoise at 11:01 AM on April 5, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, all. Every answer has been helpful/encouraging, but I'll mark Long Way To Go's as best because I think that's the most actionable and constructive.

Oh, and I'm not looking much in Michigan - thinking more of New England, or possibly Chicago.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 8:24 PM on April 5, 2011

Best answer: Maybe some of the answers to my question will help you out with respect to science related jobs in Chicago.

I want to program for science
posted by bleary at 9:53 AM on April 6, 2011

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