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Student ambassadors from the MSBA program attended the two-day virtual data science conference.

DSGO 2020: Virtual Data Fest

November 05, 2020 • By The UCI Paul Merage School of Business

On Oct 24-25, students from the Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) at the UCI Paul Merage School of Business attended the virtual DataScienceGo 2020 conference. Marianna Carini MSBA ’21 and Yvonne Lu MSBA ’21—student ambassadors for the MSBA program—share their experiences from the conference. 

1. Tell us about yourself

Marianna: I am a current MSBA student and a Business Analyst for an Aerospace company in Irvine. Before coming to UCI for grad school, I attended Cal Poly, SLO where I studied mathematics and played water polo. Outside of class and work, I enjoy being active, going to concerts, and all things DIY!

Yvonne: After receiving my bachelor’s degree at UCR in business information systems, I had a wonderful opportunity to work in London as an IT and business analyst. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic I had to return home to California. My experiences were enlightening, it allowed me to develop my true passion and my future goals. It had led me to where I am today, here at UCI, where I can continue to learn and develop.

2. Why are you interested in studying data science? 

Marianna: I first got interested in analytics while working on my senior project at Cal Poly, specifically linear programming and optimization. I loved the way it tied my math background to real-world problems!

Yvonne: I am interested in data science because I love being able to clean up and derive conclusions from raw sets of numbers and data to analyze patterns and trends – it’s so satisfying! I want to be able to use data science to transform how we approach security and privacy in the future. Studying data science will allow me to use machine learning techniques that will be helpful to identify cybersecurity threats and predict risks.

3. What was the coolest thing you learned at the conference?

Marianna: One of the workshops at DSGO was “Data Science for Good.” That one was my personal favorite! I learned about various organizations that do data science with the intent to better the community. In data science, we talk almost exclusively about business impact, so it was great to hear about other applications! Definitely opened my mind to alternative uses.

Yvonne: The coolest thing I learned from DataScienceGo is the importance of data cleaning. The more time we spend looking at the data, the more we will know how to clean it. The main takeaway was to always make sure the data has COAT on. COAT stands for consistent, organized, accurate, and trustworthy. Cleaning data is just like cleaning out a closet.

4. What were some of the advantages of a virtual conference?

Marianna: Safety is an obvious advantage of a virtual conference. It is great to have the opportunity to be a part of the data science community despite the current situation with COVID-19. It also didn’t hurt that my dog got to attend the conference with me!

Yvonne: There are so many positive things about a virtual conference. The best thing about a virtual conference is that I was able to see every attendee that was at the conference and there was one big group chat where we can send our LinkedIn profiles and connect instantly. Another great thing was that I was able to hop between main stage and the workshops or even have them both open at the same time. Lastly, networking was simple, quick, and easy. There was a time limit for each networking breakout room, it was a great way for me to practice my elevator pitch. It’s so surprising to meet and see people from all over the world come together.

5. What are some of your career goals?

Marianna: In the short-term, my next career milestone is obtaining my MSBA degree. From there, I would like to find a role where I can challenge myself as a data scientist. On the long-term side, I would like to master a relevant programming language! Currently, I feel like a jack of all trades, but a master of none.

Yvonne: My career goal upon graduation is to become a data scientist in cyber security. I want to protect businesses by using machine learning to prevent and identify potential cybersecurity threats. I hope my work can positively impact the company’s security infrastructure. 

 6. Any advice for women looking to study business and/or data science?

Marianna: Go for it! My undergrad experience in math and computer science was male dominated. I was surprised to find in my working experience and in the MSBA program, that a majority of people are women! Even if that might not be the case for everyone in analytics/ data science, overall the data science community is supportive and progressive.

Yvonne: My advice for women looking to study business or data science is to step out of your comfort zone by taking the initiative to lead and network as much as possible. Networking for me helps build my confidence and learn from people’s experiences. Don’t let any fear get in the way and always put in your best effort. We learn from our own experiences and mistakes, that is how we will grow. It will all be worth it in the end.

Both Marianna and Yvonne will be attending the in-person version of the conference that is currently slated for March 26, 2021—where they can meet some of the people they connected with at the virtual conference.

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