Five Things to do as a Graduate Student in Mathematics

I would like to share with you my first year experience as a graduate student in mathematics at Washington State University, and I want to give you some suggestions about what you should do as a graduate student in mathematics. In Spring 2015, I started my first semester as a Ph.D student in Applied Mathematics, and during that semester, I wrote two math textbooks in differential equations and linear algebra, and I also gave three seminar’s talks in Applied Mathematics, as well as, I participated as invited technical program committee (TPC) member and invited reviewer for many international conferences and journals in applied math, physics, electrical engineering, and computer engineering. Most of these conferences published their accepted papers in major trade peer-reviewed publishing companies such as Springer and IEEE Xplore. Therefore, the following is a list of five different things that I highly recommend you to do as a graduate student in mathematics:

  • Join professional organizations in mathematics and other related fields: When I started my graduate studies in mathematics, I joined the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). It is easy to become a student member in SIAM because they offer a free membership for graduate students in some universities. There are also several math associations and societies such as American Mathematical Society (AMS) and Mathematical Association of America (MAA) that can provide you with good discounts on the prices of their student memberships.
  • Create a professional website: If you are a newly admitted graduate student in mathematics, I recommend you to create a professional website that includes your research interests, curriculum vitae, work experience, and courses you are currently teach. The advantage of having your own professional website is that many people will contact you by your website email to invite you as technical program committee (TPC) member, reviewer, editor, math team member for conferences and journals in mathematics and applied sciences. If you are going to teach a class, it is a good idea to add a section in your professional website that contains your lecture notes, solutions to your class assignments and quizzes, and study guides for exams.
  • Teach a course you like to teach: If you have been offered a teaching assistantship position at your department, I believe that most universities give you the option to request the courses you like to teach. Therefore, I recommend you to choose courses that interest you more than others because if you like the course you teach, your students will more likely appreciate the way you teach.
  • Participate in research groups: If you are a new graduate student in your department, I recommend that you contact your department chair, coordinator, advisor, and graduate studies chair to ask them about any available research groups to join so you can participate in the group’s research publications and seminar’s talks.
  • Participate in extra-curricular and academic related activities: When you start you graduate studies in mathematics, you will face the stress of work and study load. So, what you should do to relief this stress?. The answer is simple; many universities and colleges have student associations and clubs such as a graduate student association and peer leadership program. For example, when I was student at Washington State University (WSU) and American University of Sharjah (AUS), I was an active member in a peer leadership program, and I had also taken part taken part in competitions such as The International Electronics Synopsys Competition.

In conclusion, from the fifth point I mentioned above, I would like to focus on one case which I consider a great achievement in my work as a peer leader. One day, while I was walking along the corridors of AUS, I saw a student wondering, knowing neither where to go nor what to do. That student was as perplexed as a person going astray in the desert without being able to decide his direction. I approached him and asked him what he wanted. He told me that it was his first day at AUS and he did not know where and how to start. I assumed him that everything would be alright. Then, that student released a sigh of relief exactly the same feeling of our friend in the desert when a plane out of the blue sky took him out of the mire. That freshmen student was like a ship in a rough sea beaten by high waves, sometimes taking it west and some other times right. Imagine what would that person feel when he suddenly finds someone to lead him to the shores of safety. I helped him throughout the registration process. Since then, that student became one of my best friends. Maybe you are still thinking of our poor friend in the desert? Relax; he was lifted by a helicopter. So my job strengthens relations and builds a highly cooperative community. During my work as peer leader, I oftentimes go around talking to students, familiarizing myself with their problems and offering them the help they may stand in need of. This is just to show you an example of how a successful graduate student can positively impact the lives of other students. Finally, I recommend you to follow at least most of the five things mentioned above to be successful in your career as a graduate student.

About Mohammed Kaabar

Mohammed Kaabar is a math faculty member (professor) at Riverside Community College District. He is the author of (A Friendly Introduction to Differential Equations) and (A First Course in Linear Algebra) Books, and his research interests are numerical analysis, differential equations, linear algebra, and real analysis. He is an invited Technical Program Committee (TPC) member in many conferences such as ICECCS 14, ENCINS 15, eQeSS 15, SSCC 15, ICSoEB 15, CCA 14, WSMEAP 14, EECSI 14, JIEEEC 13 and WCEEENG 12. He is a former editor for the American Mathematical Society (AMS) Blog, and he is also a certified peer reviewer and member of the math editorial board at Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) which is a program of the California State University System partnering with education institutions, professional societies, and industry.
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