If you’re a maths fanatic at school or university, you might think there are only two career options for you: maths teacher or banker. The good news is that that’s completely not true. There are lots of careers that a passion for maths can get you into, and you don’t need a degree for all of them. Here’s just a few examples…
A Digital Analyst at a media communications agency is responsible for tracking the success of adverts that they have placed. We had a chat with Greg Giles who works as a Digital Analyst at UM to find out more about his job.
Greg has to look at data from ad servers (which is basically the place where online adverts live – this is obviously a very basic explanation and if you want to know more, you should read this) to find out how many people have viewed an advert on a website and how many people have clicked on it. This helps inform media buyers when they are feeding back to a client about how successful a campaign has been and can also inform decisions about where to place adverts for particular clients in the future.
As for the maths, Greg is a maths graduate but says that the maths he’s doing isn’t actually too complicated. “On a day to day basis it’s not completely mathsy,” he says. “It’s about having a logical mindset more than anything, which is a useful way of thinking about things.”
Greg says that the best thing about working as an analyst is that it’s far more laidback than working in finance and that he has freedom in the way that he explores the data he is given.
One of the most important things for analysts is to have a good grasp on the workings of Microsoft Excel. And we mean that in an ‘actually know what you’re doing’ kind of way and not a ‘sure, I can put numbers into a spreadsheet and add two cells together’ kind of way. “It’s a very Excel-heavy job,” Greg admits. “You’ll need to know your way around the programme – and not just the basic stuff, you’ll need to understand pivot tables and lookup tables.”
Digital Content Producer
You might be surprised by the amount of maths involved in being a Digital Content Producer. We caught up with Ceri Thomas, a digital producer at Bauer Media currently working on the recently launched football title The Equaliser. It’s Ceri’s job to produce the infographics for the daily email. “I’m given a page of words and numbers and I have to make them into something that’s visually interesting,” he explains.
The maths that Ceri has to do in his job can actually be fairly complicated as you need an understanding of why some things don’t work as you might expect – for example, if Ceri wants to show that one thing is twice the size of the other he can’t just double each side of the image as that would actually make it four times as big. “You have to have a bit of a head for maths,” Ceri admits. “But personally, my mental maths is rubbish – I always have to have a calculator handy.”
Ceri doesn’t have a maths degree, in fact he just has a maths O level, but he says that while studying for a degree in graphic design he found that he enjoyed working with data more than designing something where he was free to be creative. Ceri says that he enjoys the challenge of presenting data. “Say I’m trying to express the number of minutes each player has been involved in setting up a goal or scoring, in that case the smaller the value the better as it shows that they are more effective so it’s about visually trying to show that the smaller number is better than the bigger number,” he explains. “It’s trying to work out clever ways of showing which one is the more important value.”
An Innovation Analyst is someone who looks at the data that a company holds on its customers and uses it to suggest ways to target customers for new products that the company is promoting. We spoke to Alex Weighill who works as an Innovation Analyst at O2 to find out more about what the job entails.
It turns out that the maths required to do Alex’s job isn’t actually all that complicated – although he’s working towards a Maths and Business Management degree at Northumbria University, he says that “there’s no really complex maths” involved in his job with O2, “I’ve not really applied any of the actual knowledge into my job, but the skills I’ve learnt and the way of thinking has helped me a lot.”
But as well as having a mathematical brain, there’s definitely a certain level of creativity required to do the job well. “There’s not always an obvious solution about how you get to a result,” Alex admits. “It takes a bit of creativity to work it out sometimes and some good problem solving skills.”
Alex says that he enjoys the fact that in this role as an analyst he’s given a huge project or task to find something out from large amounts of data and expected to go away and get on with the task in his time. “I don’t have to rely on anyone else, there’s no waiting around for replies to emails. I can just get stuck into the data and get on with it.”
A lot of Alex’s job is actually done through various computer programmes so Alex has found that he’s had to learn a bit of coding to be able to do his job. So if you’re interested in being an analyst, learning to code will definitely give you a head start and impress employers when you’re applying for jobs. “There’s not difficult maths involved in the coding side of things,” Alex says. “But I do think it helps if people study maths and have the mathematical and logical approach to writing code.”
If you love maths but don’t really fancy working in finance, check out these opportunities with Capgemini.