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BYU Math Students go Abroad to Learn about Jobs

The Applied Math Study Abroad group saw the fjords in Norway and was in Oslo for Norway's Constitution Day celebrations. Mathematics student Austin Hannemann said he wanted the international experience so he could see job options available to math majors and see what an oversea job would look like. Turns out that jobs for math majors are multiplying.

Members of the Applied Math in Europe study abroad recently returned from an international experience involving eight countries and 11 company visits over the course of three weeks.

Mathematics student Austin Hannemann said he wanted the international experience so he could see job options available to math majors and see what an oversea job would look like. Most of the presenters at the companies Hannemann visited either went to BYU or a school in the United States and then ended up transferring to international offices, Hannemann said.

“It was cool to see how they ended up overseas and how they’re raising their families out there,” Hannemann said.

The students visited Google, NuSkin, Family Search, Nike, ING and Epic Systems Corporation — a healthcare software company used by more than half of the hospitals in the United States.

Statistics student Shelby Taylor said Epic Systems Corporation was her favorite company to visit, even though she plans to go into academia rather business. She said it was useful for her to see how important statistics and math are in the workplace so she can inform her future students about the need for statistics in a business setting.

The Marriott School of Management hosts other similar study abroad programs, which include traveling and visiting with companies, but this study abroad focused specifically on the needs of STEM students.

“There’s not really a study abroad program for someone majoring in math or a lot of the sciences,” said Michael Dorff, mathematics professor and department chair, who directed the program.

The presenters of the companies went into detail on the specific skills they were looking for in STEM majors, mentioning math classes students should take and computer skills and coding languages they should learn, according to Hannemann.

“It was definitely more geared toward math-y people,” Hannemann said.

Most people don’t understand the potential career paths available for math majors, Dorff said. Oftentimes the expectation is to go into academia rather than business, so Dorff wanted to make the options clear for his students on this trip.

“There are hundreds of jobs available for math students — it’s just that the word hasn’t quite gotten out,” Dorff said. “The explosion of data in the last 10 years has really just magnified the need for people who are good with analyzing data, finding patterns and things like that.”

Dorff said he hopes to continue this program in the future, including possibly visiting companies in southern Europe or Asia in coming years.

Students from the program said they were grateful for this short option compared to the standard semester or term-long study abroad programs offered by the Kennedy Center.