Karen's advice for maths students
Dr Karen Meyer (Mathematics 2008) recently participated in a 'speed networking' event with current students, part of the University's Alumni Insights project. We spoke with her about her time as a student and why she wants to volunteer her time.
Why have you chosen to take part in these events? Is alumni advice something you benefitted from while a student?
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the University of Edinburgh, and I believe that I received an excellent education and experience, so I’m happy to give something back. There weren’t any events like this when I was a student, but I would have appreciated the opportunity to chat to alumni about their career paths.
Why is it so important that students hear from graduates who have gone on to have successful careers?
When I was an undergraduate student I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I finished my degree and I can’t say that I was aware of the diversity of opportunities open to a mathematics graduate. I went to a lot of external events held by graduate employers in my final year. I was aiming to learn more about the types of career that would be available to me with my degree, whether I might enjoy and be challenged by the work, and whether it would make good use of the skills developed as part of my mathematics education. I think that returning alumni present current students with a fantastic opportunity to learn about the career paths and experiences of graduates with a similar education to themselves, to help them make more informed choices about their future.
Why would you like to help Edinburgh students? Do you believe our Edinburgh education is a unique one?
I loved my time at the University, not just during my studies, but also in the extracurricular activities available. The University and the city itself is very culturally diverse, compared to growing up in a small Scottish town, so I feel like my knowledge and awareness were expanded in so many more ways than just through my formal mathematics education. I met a lot of wonderful people through my degree and I’m sure that there are many wonderful people studying at the University right now!
Which moments or activities during your studies really influenced your subsequent career choices and opportunities?
The research staff at Edinburgh University really inspired me to pursue my current career as an academic. I had the fantastic opportunity to carry out a summer research project in the School of Mathematics with Professor Douglas Heggie. This gave me my first taste of research and I loved every moment of it. Professor Heggie’s enthusiasm and passion for his subject area was inspirational, and he gave me valuable advice and guidance when I decided to apply for PhD positions. The project was a great addition to my CV too – having advertised and interviewed candidates for PhD positions myself now, I know that experience like that helps a PhD applicant to stand out.
What do you wish you’d known as a student?
I wish that I’d pursued more varied work experience as a student. I enjoy what I do now, but I think that decisions about my career direction would have been easier if I had more of an awareness of what different types of job entailed.
The Alumni Insights events are only possible thanks to the generous support of our alumni who take part. If you are interested in participating in one of our events, please contact CJ Cochran, Alumni Manager: