Where I Am and Where I Am Going

Teach for America did not invite me to a final interview.  I’m disappointed because I think I could have done very well in their program.  Thanks to my wife, Leah, I have been asked to interview for NYC Teaching Fellows and I am awaiting a response to my application with DC Teaching Fellows.  They are like localized versions of Teach for America.

I am in the process of making sure I get myself to New York City for the interview with NYCTF.  I am very excited about this prospect.  This is such an incredible opportunity for me to make a difference and improve the chances of success for both Leah and I while she finishes her final two years of pharmacy school.  This little bit of hope has got me thinking more about my future and what I really want to do with my life.

Outside of teaching, I have been unsure what I wanted to do.  I am floundering around in a sea I don’t know how to navigate and these teaching opportunities are beacons I can look to.  They can guide me in a safe direction to go.  Yet, I know I can’t make worthwhile efforts to move too far onward because I don’t have a solid foundation to start from.  Sure, I have my B.S. in applied math, but I don’t have any real experience to supplement it.  I know the theory behind applying math, but I’ve never actually practiced it in any meaningful way.

I am trying.  I find problems and look at them, and even come up with something resembling solutions, but I don’t document it and I don’t pursue it as far I could.  I’m helping Leah with a project for one of her pharmacy classes.  That will end up being an application I can be proud of.  I plan to write that up and add it to my tiny portfolio.  Maybe some Project Euler problems will make it in there too.

This is not the deep foundation I want and need, though.  As I’ve turned it over in my mind, ever since I graduated, I could never really decide what my next step should be.  There are so many paths seemingly open to me.

Now I think I have decided.  Well, I HAVE decided!  I am going to pursue a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics.  Before or when I get accepted to a program I do need to take courses in advanced statistics and real and complex analysis.  Once I have that remedial material out of the way–it should take no more than two terms, possibly only one–I will also enroll in a software engineering program.  Thus I will simultaneously pursue a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics and a second B.S., this time in software.  I hope to find a synergy between the two that reduces the burden to less than their sum.

That is my plan for my more immediate future that I feel very confident about.  It will allow me to build the foundation I’ve been hoping to find.  But what will this foundation support?  Looking hazily into the future, I do have a rough estimate of my long-term goals.

From what I’ve read and inferred, a major aspect of graduate school and doctoral work is networking and getting yourself familiar with and in the field.  Hopefully, through hard work and good decisions, I can find some interesting work that I can get invited to join.  My areas of interest are theoretical physics, robotics and artificial intelligence, and algorithm design and development.  Working in any of these fields would be very fulfilling.  The major reason I want to stay in applied math is just so I can go into interesting work no matter what field it’s in.

I won’t go into big, ultimate career goals because, that far out, the future is in constant flux.  Suffice it to say, I do have a single, large ambition that I am still deciding how best to pursue.  But these foundational and initial career goals should put me in a good position when I’m closer.

Getting this written down and out of my head feels good.  It makes it more concrete and not just something I’m considering.

Now that I’ve laid out the path for myself, I just need to follow it.

Here I go.

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6 thoughts on “Where I Am and Where I Am Going

  1. just a thought: I’ve heard that getting a second bachelor’s is somewhat useless, because a lot of master’s programs accept people from all different undergrad backgrounds so you may as well get a master’s degree instead. I don’t know if graduate software degree programs have prereqs or required undergrad degrees, but it might be worth checking out some different schools and seeing if you can get a master’s in software instead of a second bachelor’s. also, you’d get better financial aid if you were to do a master’s instead of a second bachelor’s.

    • Actually, in my reading, I’ve come across the same sort of opinion. I probably could pursue a master’s after getting some prerequisite coursework taken care of. I will definitely be checking in to those sorts of options when I get there.

  2. who offers a PHD in applied math?

  3. Two comments to make. 1) “Paging Dr. Brockey” does roll off the tongue rather nicely, in my opinion :-) (Not that mathematicians frequently get paged the way that M.D.’s do, but whatever. That’s not the point). 2) As far as which school you should choose, my vote is decidedly obvious. But, being that I am a hearty supporter of democracy, I will voice it anyway: GO DUCKS! :-)

    • I’m sure Leah would be happy with me going to UofO too. But, I kinda like the Computation and Applied Mathematics Ph.D. that Portland State offers.

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