What he does:
- Brian works on the Retail Deposits team, which handles various kinds of analysis for Consumer and Small Business deposit accounts (savings and checking accounts, CD's, Money Market accounts, etc).
Math on the job:
- Examples of math on the job involve using weighted averages and equations to calculate interest expense. He has made use of regression and correlation to find trends of statistical significance. He also used a linear optimization model to forecast month-ending balances for a type of savings account.
- Some of the work done so far is similar to work done in some of his math classes--gathering data, doing some analysis of the data, finding anything statistically significant, making graphs and writing reports of the findings. The ability to analyze and solve problems is an essential skill he learned from his math background.
- Brian graduated with a Bachelor of Science, Applied and Computational Mathematical Sciences (ACMS), in Spring, 2004, with a concentration in numerical analysis and scientific computing.
- Brian had originally intended to major in computer science. After failing to be admitted to the program at UW, he chose ACMS. He thought he would still choose programming as a career, but after taking the classes for the ACMS degree, he decided to do something more with his mathmatical abilities than computer science.
- Originally, Brian had thought about being an actuary and had researched this area extensively. When he didn't pass the first exam, he decided to change his search and starting looking for similar positions in business and finance, where he could utilize his math and computer skills. He would review the job postings sent to him as an ACMS major. One of these was a position for Risk Analyst at Washington Mutual. He didn't get this position, but wound up working for the company in his current position through personal contacts.
Advice for students:
- Courses in mathematical modeling are useful. Examples are AMATH 352, 381 and 383. Modeling events mathematically has many applications in many different industries. There are some optimization courses that are usefull as well, MATH 407 and 409. He also suggests taking some basic programming courses like CSE 142 and 143. Take a class or two in probability and statistics, MATH/STAT 390 and 394.
- Programming is always a useful skill to know, and if you can learn how to code in one language, you can learn other languages quite easily. It is also good at teaching you how to solve problems and to be detail oriented. Basic courses in finance and economics are also helpful. Finally, be sure to take several writing courses, and possibly a speech course as well. If you cannot speak or write effectively, it doesn't matter how smart or talented you are. Pointing at a graph and grunting won't serve you well in most jobs.
- His words of wisdom regarding the career search are not to wait until graduation to begin. There are a lot of resources available to you as undergraduates at UW. See a career counselor, as they can get you started on the right path. Learn how to network, which is how he learned about his current job. He was working part-time at a bowling alley and discovered some of the regulars were Washington Mutual analysts. They put him in contact with the right people to get him a job.
- Keep your grades up and get a part-time job while still a student. It may not be relevant experience, but it shows initiative and responsibility.
- Don't give up. Looking for a job can be very frustrating, with setbacks along the way, but if you persevere, it will pay off.