What/who inspired you to get into this field?
I didn’t even know about it while in school, but I sort of stumbled upon the field through the Orr Fellowship and KSM Consulting. I became inspired by the fact that it melds my undergrad interests into one profession beautifully – I use economics, math and Python/R everyday. I’m also inspired because the field is expected to grow in importance as time goes on.
What classes would you recommend for this field (high school and college)?
In high school, AP-level science and math courses are helpful, as well as AP Language [for communications skills]. Take courses that challenge you. Read a lot, and find out what the leaders and experts are working on. That’s how you become exceptional. In college, take plenty of math—linear algebra, graph theory, probability theory, statistics, computational science and operations research. Become acquainted with computer science—even a foundational course in Python or Java is valuable. And take those humanities! They make you a much more interesting and creative person.
What are some other companies that employ graduates in this field?
I don’t have too many examples, but the field really is catching on—I noticed several new companies at the fall career fair that were looking for data-science types. A lot of startups, like Silicon Valley, and big-name companies—Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Uber, etc.—are latching on early. Since the field is so new, you may have to brand yourself as a mathematician, economist, computer scientist or software engineer, but the opportunities are absolutely going to continue to grow in coming years.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Going all the way from a problem statement, to whiteboard sessions, to prototyping and then to a polished solution is an incredible process to be a part of. It never feels stagnant but rather fresh with each new challenge.