Summer jobs add up to great experience for math majors

Posted on September 13, 2007 by Staff Writer

This past summer, Sweet Briar College math majors were on both coasts, working at jobs and research opportunities and gaining valuable real-world experience.

Amanda Beller ’09, a math and biology major with a minor in statistics, spent the summer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. She was a statistics intern, creating flowcharts for mathematical models.

“Learning about different mathematical models and creating flowcharts for them helped me realize the kind of work that goes into creating the models and explaining them to the general public,” Beller said.

“If I decide to create some mathematical models of my own in the future, I’ll have a better knowledge of what the work is like.”

On the suggestion of math professor Jim Kirkwood, Rachel Gotwalt ’08 found a research opportunity at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Gotwalt, a triple major in math, physics and computer science, researched fractals.

Carolisa Cheung ’08 worked for Startup Capital Ventures in Palo Alto, Calif. “They are basically entrusted with money to invest in early-stage businesses that will go on to be successful,” she explained.

Cheung tabulated raw data and converted manual calculations into Excel spreadsheets. “The job experience and potentially working in investment and or finance are what I got out of it,” she said.

“They didn’t give me any really intense projects because a lot of what they do is through experience and understanding the market outside of a textbook. They have to use their own judgment on whether or not they should give money to a company. My job was more like making the numbers easier to interpret [and] present.”