Thomas Akrigg studied BSc Mathematics at the University of Leeds

Thomas Akrigg

Why did you choose to study mathematics? 

I chose to study maths because I was good at it. I enjoyed learning about it and wanted to see how everything we are taught at school was ‘invented’ if you like, by some of the greatest minds that have ever lived.

I also knew that the job prospects for maths graduates are second only to the medical sciences in terms of job satisfaction and compensation. 

What attracted you to the University of Leeds?

Leeds is a unique city. The University has a good standing within the region, and the alumni are slowly but surely ensuring that it has the links in industry that build progress in terms of reputation among employers.

On the social side, it is chock full of students all with their own thoughts and passions.

It is an incredible environment to be in at times and the scope for debate with peers on social issues really lends to this environment.

Having come from a tiny village in rural middle England, it still amazes me that you can get anything you want at any time of the day in Leeds, and that there is always a good night out no matter what day of the week it is.

Has your course lived up to your expectations so far?

I would say it has. I perhaps expected it to focus more on pure (abstract) mathematics, and when I began studying as a naïve first year, I thought this is what I wanted to learn and concentrate on.

Slowly I have become a much bigger fan of the more applied modules, especially in statistics and finance.

The vast array of modules on offer means that in the second year, students can really ensure they are doing the style of mathematics they are best suited to.

Have you taken advantage of the flexibility of your course and enrolled in any modules outside of maths? 

This term I am doing an elective in computer programming from the School of Computer Science which I really enjoy doing the work for.

I would advise people to look broadly at the optional modules they want to pick. There are plenty of opportunities to try something completely different, and that is what university is truly about.

Can you explain a day in the life of a mathematics student?

There are around 4 hours of timetabled activities per day, usually fewer on wednesdays and fridays depending on module choices, made up of half lectures, half tutorials or a computer based sessions, and also PAL sessions where students are assisted with queries about their homework by more experienced students. 

I understand you are president of the Mathematics Society (MathSoc), can you explain your role and why you decided to do it? 

My role is to ensure the society is providing our members with lots of events throughout the year.

I also chair the committee meetings and ensure that all the other members of the committee are fulfilling their duties.

I would certainly recommend the role for anyone going into 2nd or 3rd year - it is great fun and you get to meet some great people that otherwise you might not have had chance to meet.

What kind of activities does MathSoc organise?

The majority of our events are socials. This year we have organised two Otley runs, the Rubik's Cube bar crawl, the Christmas ball, a weekend away to Amsterdam, bowling and an open bar.

One of my proudest achievements in my tenure is seeing 125 people turn up to the Christmas ball after a month’s planning, preparation and ticket selling.

We have also organised careers events with EY (Ernst and Young), PWC (PriceWaterhouseCooper), TeachFirst and DLA Piper in partnership with the Business and Law Societies.

We have sports teams for members to join including our league winning 11-a-side football team, two 5-a-side football teams and two netball teams as well as tennis and badminton sessions.

Are you involved in any other societies on campus?

I am the Social Secretary for the Trading and Investment Society and looking to run for the presidency of that society next year.

The society looks to make its members as employable as possible within the financial services sector by running careers events and trading games, whilst allowing students to naturally build their network with the working world.

Do you have an idea of what you might like to do at the end of your course?

My ambition is to become a trader at an investment bank in the city, but having tried to immerse myself in that particular environment, making progress anywhere is proving more challenging than I first thought.

I am currently applying for summer internships in a number of different roles including Sales and Trading, Risk, Actuary and Management Consultancy.