A few years ago I wrote and published a book with the American Mathemat-
ical Society called A Mathematician’s Survival Guide [KRA3]. This volume
was intended to help the student learn how to become a mathematician.
Feedback from readers has indicated that this book has found an apprecia-
tive audience, and it has been successful in mentoring young mathematicians.
The book helps the newly minted Ph.D. to find his/her place in the math-
ematical firmament and to learn how to get along in the profession. My
motivation for writing that book was a commonly held belief or observation
that mathematics is traditionally a sink-or-swim vocation; there is nobody
to tell you what you are supposed to (or are expected to) do in your new
position, how you are to learn the ropes, and how you are to advance and
realize your potential. There is some truth to this claim, but two comforting
facts are that this differs little from the challenge facing most people as they
embark on their careers and that there is guidance to be found for those who
seek it.
Certainly the transition from the intensity and often solitary activity of
getting a thesis written to the sociopolitical structure of an academic or
industrial job can be a shock to the system. Nothing in your formal edu-
cation prepares you for the many nuances and loopholes of your new work
environment. You will have many new choices as to what sort of working en-
vironment you should select; if you are fortunate, you will find one that suits
your interests and proclivities. This could be a first-rate academic/research
environment, or it could be a primarily teaching environment, or it could be
in a genome lab, or with a computer firm, or with a branch of the federal
government. In every instance you will face similar questions: What am I
supposed to do (on a daily basis, and also in the long run)? How do I function
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