Big Data and Analytics Association

This past Thursday, I attended a meeting for the Big Data and Analytics Association (BDAA). I had heard about the club at the Welcome Week Student Involvement Fair, but Thursday was the first day I was able to make it to an official meeting. I had already tested out a few other clubs, such as, Chemistry Club or Astronomical Society, but none of them peaked my interest quite like BDAA. This organization focuses on teaching its members how to analyze data in real world applications and prepares them for career fairs and other events that could lead to an internship, or, potentially, a career. Traditionally, meetings are on Tuesdays, and, each week, guest speakers teach a new topic relevant to data analysts in the work force. However, this past Thursday, the club held a Q&A session with experienced members for any interested first year students. I tried to convince some of my friends to come along, and I was able to get two of them to come along. For the Q and A, all five panelists had held data analyst internships at some point in their collegiate careers. First they took turns answering predetermined questions arranged by the club president. For example he asked, “What BDAA event was most helpful for you?” and, “What skills did you use most often with your internships?” I could feel myself becoming more intrigued with data analytics as a whole the more they talked about their internships. They explained that computer science and statistics were both important for their jobs, but also how they learned a lot while working. This aspect really stuck with me because I always tend to think that I’m under-qualified for certain positions due to lack of experience, but they explained that their employers encouraged learning on the job as long as they understood the logistical side of the business. One of the events that came up multiple times in their responses was a more private career fair that the club as a whole was invited to. They talked about the great opportunity for networking and most of them made their first connection with their internship at that fair. They made me excited about it and I didn’t even fully understand what it meant to be a data analyst. The second half of the meeting was slightly different. Every new student separated into five groups and each panelist went to a group to answer more specific and relevant questions. After about 5 minutes the panelists would rotate so that we could get other perspectives. I asked a lot of questions relating to the possibility of learning these skills on the side. The reason I asked this is because I am in engineering and I’m trying to minor in Spanish so classes relating to data analytics probably won’t fit my schedule. To my relief, all of them said that they thought anyone can learn the basics on the side and for the most part their internships didn’t require much previous knowledge. Overall, the answers they gave really put me at ease and made me highly consider data analytics as a career path I would like to explore more. In fact, one of the panelists held an internship as a data analyst in a chemical engineering company which would make perfect sense for myself. I’m interested in continuing with BDAA through this school year. I just have to figure out how to build it into my busy schedule. Being that I am in other clubs like: Academic team, American Chemical Society, and Intramural Soccer, it will be a little harder to manage my time, but I do think I will prioritize BDAA when there is conflicts. I would definitely encourage any student who is interested in using logical reasoning, statistics, and coding to consider joining BDAA. It opened up a potential career path for me and I’m sure it’ll do the same for many other students.

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