Learn about Industry and Government Careers

  • Browse Jobs on Toast.com, skim the discussion boards at the Versatile PhD, read some transition stories at From PhD to Life.
  • See career possibilities at WeUseMath.org and the SIAM careers brochure.
  • Correspond or talk with alumni online and at the departmental reception at the AMS Joint Math Meetings (JMM).
  • Talk with the Director of Graduate Studies about your interest in industry or government careers.
  • Join the SIAM or INFORMS chapters on campus.
  • Talk with as many people as possible among your friends, family and academic network - many people will help and offer advice if you explain what you want to know. 

Prepare for Careers

Resumes and interviewing:

Technical skills:

  • Acquire basic coding and statistical skills – take some courses on campus at whatever level gets you started. Possibilities include:
    • STAT 200 Statistical Analysis
    • STAT 207 Data Science Exploration
    • STAT 425 Applied Regression and Design
    • STAT 440 Statistical Data Management
    • STAT 448 Advanced Data Analysis
    • STAT 542 Statistical Learning (highly recommended). Theory and proof of popular machine learning algorithms, with practical implementation homework. The end-of-semester project is good for your CV.
    • CS 307 Modeling and Learning in Data Science
    • CS 446 Machine Learning
    • CS 512 Data Mining
    • CS 598 Machine Learning for Signal Processing (topics course)
    • Machine learning courses in the CS department

      For students who need numerical methods:
      CS 101 – Intro Computing: Engrg & Sci (tools course, scientific computing, C, Matlab, Unix/Linux)
      CS 357 – Numerical Methods I (theoretical, Python, Mathematica, Matlab, course for large scale programming)
      CS 450 – Numerical Analysis (theoretical)
      CS 555 Numerical Methods for PDEs

      For students who need programming exposure and not numerical methods:
      CS 125 – Intro to Computer Science (Java, object oriented programming)
      CS 173 – Discrete Structures (prereq for CS 225)
      CS 225 – Data Structures (C++, object oriented programming)

  • Online training options include:
    • “Programming Foundations with Python” and “Design of Computer Programs” at Udacity. These free, self-paced courses are extremely well-structured and interesting. Highly recommended!
    • Free courses through Coursera, EdX, Udacity; search for courses on coding, algorithms, machine learning (e.g. the course by Stanford's Andrew Ng is highly recommended), and data science.
    • Math/coding problems at ProjectEuler.net - form a group with other graduate students to tackle some of the problems.
    • LinkedIn Learning - free to University of Illinois students. Search its playlists under "developer" to find series of courses on topics such as "Learn to Program in C++," "Learn to Program in JavaScript," "Learn to Program in Python" and others.
  • Data science training programs (most charge fees)
  • Software engineering career advice from a PhD alumnus


Summer internships get you experience and recommendations from people working in industry. Read about past internship experiences of graduate students from our department. Then start applying... 

Internship programs:

  • Inmas  - based at University of Illinois; industry placements.
  • IMSI - based at University of Illinois; scientific lab placements.
  • NSF - grant supplements for internships

Government labs:

  • MSGI - Mathematical Sciences Graduate Internship Program (NSF); national lab placements. 
  • National Lab links - apply for full-time and internship opportunities.
  • Pacific Northwest National Lab - internship programs and job board. If you apply, please alert our department’s contact at PNNL, Dr. Emilie Purvine.
  • Sandia National Laboratories - internships and postdocs. Contact Prof. Lee DeVille, so that you can tap into the Department's pre-existing contacts at Sandia. Prof. Lee DeVille is a point person for the institutional collaboration with Sandia National Labs.

Industry internships:

  • Handshake - companies post internship opportunities here
  • Internships.com
  • SIAM internship and career links
  • Job board and tenant directory for the UI Research Park - clicking on each company name gives contact information for the local site manager
  • Networking - talk with students, faculty and your other contacts to help find people with internship experience and companies wanting to hire interns.


But remember - submitting resumes online to companies where you know no-one is a low-percentage way of finding a job. Instead, put time into talking with friends, family and professional contacts to expand your personal network. That is a far more powerful means of getting a satisfying job. 

Miscellaneous links