Today I’m here to share another Uni Life interview with you. The purpose behind this interview series is to give prospective and current students an insight into life at university, what it takes to get there and how to survive.
It’s hard to know what path to take when you’re in college. I hope that this series will give you a chance to learn from current students about the courses you’re interested in.
This week I’m sharing an interview with Samantha, a recent Mathematics graduate. I hope you enjoy the interview and remember to feel free to ask any questions in the comment section below.
What course did you studying at university?
I studied a BSc (Hons) in Mathematics at The University of Chester
Did you have to study specific subjects at college to get onto the course?
I had to have at least a B in A-level Maths at 6th Form but I also studied Further Maths. It’s not necessary but really helped me during the course.
Why did you decide to study mathematics at university?
I’ve always really enjoyed the subject and I think because I enjoyed it I naturally wanted to learn more from a young age. It’s so broad that every university offers a different type of course. Mine was a lot of algebra, theories and pure mathematics combined with statistics, which are some of my favourite types of Mathematics.
What did you enjoy most about your course?
I enjoyed the wide range of modules I did over the three years, I looked into game theory (I even had an assignment in 2nd year based on The Big Bang Theories “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard Spock”), mortgages, quality specifications in machinery and then huge giant theories that took over an hour and a thousand (ok 3) pages to prove. Infact we even looked into rocket science (that was hard though!).
What did you find most challenging about your course?
I think proving things were difficult, there were hundreds of lines that all meant something different and it took weeks to remember them all before the exams. Also at my Uni you studied 5/6 modules all at once and had all the exams in the space of 3 weeks. So exam season was always a long difficult one. Especially because each of my exams were 3 hours long and each carried 75% of the total module weight.
Are internships easy to come by?
In my second year we had a compulsory work placement that lasted 5 weeks, now I was lucky and knew someone in a finance roll that I could work as an assistant for, but many people on my course did struggle (there was only 45 of us!) and many had to take up the 5 week research programme that the University offered as a last resort. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. As everything sadly is these days!
Please tell us about an internship/work experience that you’ve gained something positive from.
The work placement mentioned above was really great for me. I got to put into practice all the data forecasting, figure analysis and Excel knowledge I’d built up in the first two years of my course and actually apply them to a real world job!
Did you have any career plans in mind before you graduated?
To be honest no I didn’t, I just knew that I didn’t have the patience to be a school teacher, I just couldn’t do that at all.
What have you been doing since you graduated?
I’ve been working five days a week in a retail role but starting next month I start my training as a finance assistant for the same company! I’ve also been putting lots of effort into my writing for my blog now I have a little more free time!
Is there anything you wish you knew about university life before you started?
I’m not sure if there’s anything I’d of liked to have known before hand as I really enjoyed the three years I spent there but I’d of liked someone to introduce me to all the different parts of the library a lot earlier on (I didn’t find the oversize books until the second year and I was convinced they didn’t exist even though the map told me they did). Also there’s so much you can do in there now, book space out (which thinking back would have been amazing for problem sheet solving in a group), hire all kinds of equipment and all the usual printing and laminating services!
What keeps you motivated when studying and planning for your future?
This is going to sound really geeky, but the things that kept me most motivated about getting to the end of a piece of work was knowing that I’d get an answer. That’s why I really like maths; there’s no ‘kind of’ answers. It’s either right- or wrong, but that probably says a lot about me as a person too! It is satisfying knowing that you will get to the end of a big problem though only to see everything matches up and works out!
In day to day life I like to set myself little goals, and I love looking forward to things like breaks away and set myself work related targets in the run up to them.
What advice would you offer to prospective maths students?
I’d tell all prospective students to really think about the decision to go to University, yes I loved my time there and I’d repeat it over and over again, but I did only pay a little over £3k tuition a year. At £9k a year however I don’t think I’s sensible for you to go if you’re not 100% sure that the course is what you want to do. Also I’d read into the course and the University, like I said above my course was statistics orientated but that doesn’t suit everyone so you need to know what kind of course you like and what way of teaching you prefer. Would you like to be sat in a room with 300 others that you don’t really know or in classes of 40 where you all know each other? It’s something worth researching!
Finally, what is your go to meal after a busy day?
I like all food, but either a nice big bowl of pasta or something Mexican like fajitas. I do love a good homemade burger but those kind of dishes are saved for when I have a couple of hours free to really prepare a good meal!
I want to say a big thank you to Samantha for taking part in this interview and wish her the best of luck in the new job. I love taking to people who have a passion for the subject they study. I also think her advice to prospective students is very important. You really must research not only into the course you want to study but also the university and city.
You can find Samantha over on her blog, Dairy of a Maths Student, Instagram and Twitter .
If you fancy taking part in a Uni Life interview then drop me a message on Twitter.