I wanted a job that would use my mathematical and problem solving skills to solve real, interesting problems.
Coming in as a maths graduate, I had to sit a maths test. This was quite challenging… but knowing we weren’t expected to answer every question perfectly helped. And I really enjoyed the interview, because it focused on the maths test… It gave me time to explain my answers and expand on them. The vetting process was fairly intrusive into my life… but it was just a case of talking though my upbringing, friends, hobbies and motivations.
There’s a huge learning curve when you join… And with so much work going on, initially it’s hard to figure out where you fit in the jigsaw and how all the parts work together. All the acronyms are scary, but after a while you begin to use them like a second language.
I had very little programming knowledge when I joined… But now I can program efficiently in Java, R, and UNIX, with more languages on the way – so technically my skills have really improved. I’ve also been introduced to fascinating new areas of maths that aren’t taught at undergrad level.
In terms of development, I’ve attended academic conferences where state-of-the art techniques are introduced… And I spend some time every week reading academic papers, open source code websites and forums to ensure I keep up to date…
I’ve also been on a number of internal and external courses in maths, machine learning, programming and understanding the internet and networking. It might sound like you’re swamped with lots of courses… but you‘re introduced to new ideas one at a time... And they’ve all helped with my research projects. And I’ve had great support from senior colleagues who are so experienced in the topics I’ve been looking at.
When I joined, I thought all of the maths that went on was to do with cryptography… but that’s far from the truth. There’s lots of work in graph theory… statistics… probability… and machine learning, all of which I find interesting.
What I like most about my role is being challenged… and having to think and solve problems every day… It makes each day interesting and different. I also really enjoy the flexible working hours… it means you have a great work-life balance.