“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a question everyone should ask themselves at some point between the start of middle school and junior year of high school. But how to answer it? I struggled with that very question – even in my junior year of college!
You see, I loved math and science but wondered what I could do with them if I didn’t want to be a teacher. I tried majoring in electrical engineering but was one of only a few females in my classes. So, it felt funny – and I quit. (Looking back, I wish I had tried talking to someone, perhaps an older student or a professor, who could have given me a different perspective because I’m here to tell you – my thinking was all wrong. Pursuing an engineering career is a great thing for a woman to do, as evidenced by all the amazing female engineers at GE.)
So what was next? Instead I switched to my other “love” and majored in math. However, when I was getting ready to graduate with my math degree, I still was not sure what I wanted to do!
It turned out that a good family friend was an actuary (someone that uses mathematics, statistics and financial theory to measure, manage and mitigate financial risk and uncertainty) and I was offered a job at her firm working on pension plans (think of this as the way people get a paycheck after they retire). That job heavily utilized my math skills, which was really cool, but required me to take exams that I was not really interested in taking.
A few years later, I started working with retirement savings plans in that same firm. Although the new job didn’t require the same mathematical rigor, the analytical skills I had learned were a huge asset.
Eventually, I got the opportunity to work for GE using both sets of skills, and now responsible for managing one of the largest retirement savings plans in the US! I have enjoyed using my math skills to be able to predict the cost to the company for providing an attractive benefit to its employees so that people want to work for GE. I also love educating employees on the financial impact of their savings choices and what they need to do to be prepared when they are ready to stop working.
My career path was not at all clear to me when I was 18 nor did I follow a straight or traditional path but one thing is clear– I have used my math training and the related analytical skills throughout.
Who knew there were so many cool things you can do with a math degree??
So even if you are not sure what you want to be when you grow up, make sure you focus on something you love doing and I am sure you will find your way!
Denise F, GE Coporate