St. Olaf Alumnus - Tom Dow

Tom Dow
  • Student's name: Tom Dow
  • Undergraduate institution: St Olaf College
  • Position: Programmer Analyst
  • Company name: University of Southern California
  • Industry sector: Science and Research

What he does:

  • Tom graduated from St Olaf College in 2002 majoring in both Mathematics and Econmoics. Tom is now employed by the in the Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy department at the University of Southern California as an Analysist and Statistician. He works with two PhD's to assemble papers for publication, reports for drug companies and analysis for new government grants. Nearly everyday, Tom is faced with a new programming or statistical problem which he must use cutting edge technology to solve. In addition to the research which consumes most of his time, he also assists graduate students at USC. As Tom says, " This feeds myteaching side and gives me a nice break from time to time. I really love my job and the life style that it affords me."

Math on the Job:

  • As a programmer analyst, Tom spends most of his time solving problems reguarding research projects at USC. These complex problems entail that Tom uses all of his inuition to take the nessicary steps to get the job done. This requires the use of abstract thought processes required in theoretical math classes such as abstract algebra. Along with the skills from his math major, Tom's position requires him to also use knowledge from computer science classes. The integration of two subjects yields career skills giving anyone an upper hand in the job selection process. As Tom says, "A programming background will allow you to adapt and learn new programs and new processes much, much easier than if you had none at all."

Tom's background:

  • Tom received a BA from St Olaf College in Northfield, MN in the spring of 2002 majoring in mathematics and economics. After graduation from St Olaf, Tom continued his education at the UCLA school of public health, receiving a Master's degree in biostatistic. For a short time, Tom worked a production job in which he had little interest. He was told about a position at USC by the mother of a friend and latter applied for and received his current job.

Advice for students:

  • Math is a great subject for all students and, as Tom says, "Math applies to every field so it's important to have a foothold in as much as possible...My advice to Math majors is to broaden your horizons when it comes to your education. I was blessed learning at a place like St. Olaf where I got the liberal arts education and was able to major in both math and Economics."