How did you come to study mathematics?
The answer I would like to give to that: Numbers and patterns have always fascinated me and mathematics was already my favorite subject in school. But to be honest, I decided to study mathematics because I couldn't make up my mind about the huge choice of courses and because it was the subject that I thought would suit me best.
And would you now say that it suits you?
Yes, now after a total of 6 years of studying I can actually say that it was the right decision, but that wasn't the case from the beginning. In the first semesters, I was sometimes quite overwhelmed and often had the feeling that I wasn't doing the studies justice. I think more students feel this way than you might think, because studying math doesn't have much to do with what you learned in school. As a result, many have a completely different idea of what the degree program will be like.
What advice would you give to future math students?
The most important thing is not to give up right away. There will always be challenges, especially in the beginning, but also in higher semesters, that will present you with bigger problems. But that's also an important quality that you learn in your studies: solving problems. Of course, everyone has to find out for themselves whether logical thinking, puzzling and a structured approach is something they enjoy, but it's also okay if you need a few semesters to do it.
That doesn't sound so easy, so why study mathematics?
Mathematics is essential to understanding the world around us and is used in many fields such as physics, engineering, and computer science. Studying math helps develop critical thinking and analytical skills that are valuable in any profession. Among other things, one learns to work precisely and accurately. It requires a lot of self-motivation and the ability to work independently, but you also learn the importance of working with others in a team, whether it's working on practice problems, studying, or collaborative projects.
Mathematics is not about memorizing formulas, but also about finding new and creative ways to solve problems. You learn to abstract complex problems and generalize solutions to similar problems.
Studying math can definitely be challenging, but it can also be fun and open you up to many different career paths.
So what kind of career opportunities are there for mathematicians?
With a degree in mathematics, many doors are open to you, including in fields such as finance, technology, and science. For example, many technology companies employ mathematicians to work on data analysis and machine learning projects. Financial institutions such as banks also seek mathematicians to work on risk management and quantitative analysis. And of course, there are many opportunities in academia such as teaching and research.
So what are you doing now after your master's degree?
I am currently doing a second master's, the M.Ed. Physics and Mathematics after specialized bachelor's in mathematics. In my bachelor's degree, I first chose physics as a minor, but then switched to computer science. I have always found physics interesting, because it gives you a lot of applications of the often quite theoretical mathematics. That's why I decided to do a second degree in physics, and the M.Ed. also gives you the opportunity to become a teacher. After this study I want to work in the economy, maybe even do a doctorate, but I still don't exclude the teaching profession as an option later on. In any case, my second degree showed me once again what really interests me and that I was right to choose mathematics.
Do you have any final advice for first-year students?/p>
I can only advise everyone to make the most of their time at university and to get involved in something beyond their own field of study. There are many great offers at the university, for example from Stuvus, and life on campus in the dorms also has a lot to offer. Not only do you get to know a lot of people, but you also learn other important life skills.
Thank you very much for the interview!
Saskia Kemmer, M.Sc.
Graduatea award winner of th Robert Bosch GmbH for outstanding M.Sc. degree in the Department of Mathematics