Data analytics grads see the big picture behind big data
If a 21st-century organization wants to remain relevant and profitable into the future, the people who care about it must be able to recognize data that is useful, and know how to use it.
People working in data analytics can analyze raw data, find trends and draw conclusions that can improve performance. It’s a newer program and growing field of study at Augustana College, where a liberal arts education prepares data scientists to see the bigger picture that data can show us.
For their data analytics careers, these graduates were launched by their Augustana education and experience. From human resources to sports analytics to digital optimization, their careers took off because of the skill sets, leadership opportunities and close relationships they gained at Augustana.
M. Brad Henry ’03
Expert data scientist at Allstate
Computer science and mathematics majors, minor in philosophy
Ph.D. in mathematics, Washington University
What drew me to data science was that there’s a very strong creative element to it. You’re not simply writing application software to perform a well-defined task. You’re having to sift through, in our case, mountains of data and find meaningful and actionable trends in the data.
You have to see a big picture, and I think what differentiates those who come out of state schools or specialty data science programs, and those who have a background in the liberal arts — when you scratch the surface of the data, you find they [with liberal arts backgrounds] have a deeper knowledge of how it can improve a work experience, or life, or so on.
Really, we’re looking for solid creative thinkers.
Bethany Wotal ’02 Dohleman
Director: People Insights, AbbVie, focusing on analytics in human resources
Mathematics and psychology
M.S. in statistics, Ph.D. in quantitative psychology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
The unique combination of my two very different majors played out very well for me in graduate school…. I think I had a leg-up over others.
I was allowed to explore enough to figure out what niche I wanted and get ahead of what was being offered…. And it was because I was able to explore two seemingly different areas of study and find a way to combine them.
When I was writing applications and getting letters of reference, it was from full tenured professors who were well respected in their fields and knew me on a personal level. To be perfectly honest, my graduate work was so highly specialized that my peer group was three or four people. I know a few people had been trying to get in for a few years, and I got in on the first try. I got multiple offers and was paid to go.
Valerie Kroll ’07
Director of optimization at Search Discovery, a data consulting agency focusing on digital optimization
Business administration–marketing and psychology
I was so thankful that I went to a small liberal arts school where there were so many leadership opportunities. When I applied to be on a digital marketing board, I was the youngest board member they had. I had one month more than the required time of work experience thanks to the work I did while I was at Augustana.
I still draw on those formidable experiences at Augustana, where I got the one-on-one attention and leadership opportunities that were available there. It was incredible. I didn’t recognize it for what it was at the time, but I feel so much more prepared because of that.
Bryson Adcock ’20
Graduate student in business analytics graduate program, University of Iowa
Applied mathematics and computer science, minor in data analytics
I created my own internship with Augustana’s football program. I want to pursue a career in sports analytics, so this internship gave me an opportunity to gain valuable experience to help reach that goal. I used Augie Choice to pay rent, since the internship was unpaid.… This was both valuable and exciting because it was what I wanted to do and no one had done it before.
My goal was always to go to the University of Iowa for grad school. The classroom experiences and internship I had made it attainable.
Mai Nguyen ’19
Employed at ELSA Corp, San Francisco-based startup company for a leading A.I. app for developing English fluency
Economics and business administration–finance, minor in data analytics
I wanted to go to a small liberal arts school where I could develop strong connections with the people…. I came in with an interest in economics and international relations. Never did I think I’d graduate with a little pocket of coding skills that could help leverage data in different fields.
Carissa Boerboom ’20
Data analyst at RSM US LLP, Minneapolis; pursuing CPA certification
Accounting and business administration–finance, minors in data analytics and mathematics
I always knew that I wanted to go into a mathematical and financial side of business, but I wasn't entirely sure what that role was. When Augustana announced the addition of the data analytics minor, I immediately reached out to my advisors for more information. After talking with them, and the first data classes, I knew that was the path I wanted to pursue.
What surprised me the most was how invested the professors were in me, as a person. Even as a first-year student in an introductory-level class, I was never just a name on their roster.