What have you been up to since Bowdoin?
After graduation, I struggled to understand just how I could apply my “Math”-y background to professional life, and started out as a Revenue Analyst for a hotel chain. As is wont to happen with time, I discovered that crunching numbers on an Excel wasn’t for me and quickly moved onto a more challenging role in the Consulting Services wing of World Wide Technology, where I have been working for 2 years now. An interesting example of a project at WWT is one we did with NASCAR, training neural networks to categorize images of the cars taken during the race so our client could easily examine their car without unnecessary pit stops.
My current role echoes my college days in many ways that I enjoy the nostalgia of – I continually have to apply fearlessness in learning complex concepts since I don’t have a tech background; this almost always reminds me of how I would find myself in Professor Levy, Taback and Zeeman’s offices in the same afternoon wringing my hands about the day’s lecture and then pushing through with them; I often need to storyboard and simplify very convoluted content to clients that I had to learn afresh myself, and this reminds me of those late nights in H-L figuring out how to write a concise hypothesis on how a differential equations system modeled the resurgence of the Yellowstone wolf population.
Believe it or not, I came to Bowdoin thinking I was going to study something very abstract, like Sociology. I went to school in Bangladesh, where I focused heavily on Math and Business, and the curriculum was very memorization-heavy. The monotony got me seeking something very different – in fact, I took an Economics class to fulfill my Bowdoin STEM credit. By pure coincidence I filled up a last minute canceled course slot with Professor Taback’s Advanced Integral Calculus class, something I had already learned in Bangladesh, and it changed my college career. I grew to love this new, totally different way of learning that made the material seem so different from what I knew – for the first time, I was diving deep into the concepts behind the equations and understanding the logic behind each “=>” I wrote.
It was very clear to me that I was not, in fact, the smartest person in the room – I learned alongside many gifted students and struggled to grasp concepts that they seemed to somehow pick up inherently. However, this meant I visited my professors at every opportunity, trying to answer every nitpicking question I had at the back of my mind from lessons, and every time I would find my eureka moment, the reward felt incredible. It is these hours that I so treasured with my professors, where they would coach me not only on numbers but on my approach, self-esteem, and even lifestyle, that made my Bowdoin journey. So in short, I chose Math because of the incredible instructors who guided me and encouraged me to hone my curiosities. And as for that “abstract” piece to soothe my soul, I did end up minoring in Visual Arts, too!