By: Holden Jones, EC Scholar and Honors College Senior
Determining what’s next after graduation is a daunting task. Like going to college after high school, choosing your life path is a huge step toward your future. As a student in the College of Business, many begin their careers directly after graduation in order to gain experience within the business world. Others, like myself, decide to further their education in the hopes of distinguishing themselves from others in highly a competitive job market.
This coming summer, I will begin a Master of Science in Analytics (MSA) at NC State’s Institute for Advanced Analytics. The Institute’s MSA program was the nation’s first degree program of its kind and is known for producing some of the highest quality graduates in the field of Analytics. The Institute has created a unique environment where students work in teams to gain technical and real-world experience in a short timeframe. Each team not only learns analytics skills in the classroom, but also completes a year-long practicum project where they analyze datasets provided by project sponsors. These sponsors include elite companies like Disney, eBay, MetLife, and United Airlines as well as government agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Communications Commission. These real-world projects prepare graduates for future careers and the program to have a 100% job placement for their graduates for nearly 3 years running.
I had heard coin phrases like “Big Data” in the news and business magazines, but never really thought about the job opportunities created by this data until the spring semester of 2015. With a student organization, I was afforded the opportunity to tour SAS in Cary, NC. SAS is the industry leader in analytics software and is also a large contributor to the MSA program at NC State. After the tour, my eyes were opened to the endless career possibilities created by the “data” I had never paid much attention to. As I began to research the program, I realized that it fit my personality and mindset. I wasn’t sure what my career would be, but I knew I wanted to use technology in a way that could be visibly beneficial to an organization or business. Analytics gives me these options. I will be able to analyze datasets collected during business operations and present them in a way that non-technical, business minded people will understand. By doing this, they will be able to make better-informed decisions that directly impact the company.
I attribute much of my acceptance in the MSA program to the Honors College and the College of Business. Not only have they shaped me into a better leader, but they also provided opportunities that enhanced my interpersonal skills, which are critical to the business world. After submitting my application, I received an email notifying me that I was a possible candidate for the program. The interview was difficult, but I felt that I had been properly prepared because of my experiences at ECU. Without these invaluable lessons throughout the past four years, I would not be where I am today.
From this journey, I have gained invaluable insight about myself and my future career. Always keep an open mind about your future and don’t pass up any opportunities that may benefit you along the way. If you do this, you may find yourself on a completely new and exciting path.