How an Engineer Discovered an “Awesome Career Path” in Data Analytics

February 8, 2019

In the summer of 2016, Lindsay Hirschhorn E’17 and Kelsey Sumner T’16 spent ten weeks determining optimal locations for vaccination clinics in Durham County in the event of a Zika virus outbreak. They worked closely with researchers at RTI International to construct models of disease spread and health impact, and developed an interactive visualization tool. Hirschhorn is currently an operations data analyst with

Lindsay Hirschhorn.

I was really nervous about finding a summer job after junior year because I knew it was the last chance I’d have to try something out before applying for full-time jobs the next year, and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was in Pratt and loved the engineering classes, but didn’t love the practical applications of engineering in the workplace.

I ended up trying out Data+ because I could use the engineering skills I loved and was good at, but apply them to something other than building machines, which I didn’t find very engaging. I have a lot of interests outside of math and science, so this was a unique way for me to explore those alongside engineering.

I would give full credit to Data+ for putting me on the awesome career path that I’m on now. I didn’t even know data analytics careers existed, and it really opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I could do with my engineering education without actually being an engineer.

The program is so unique that when applying for jobs after graduation, I got the majority of my interviews from people who wanted to hear more about my project. The independence I gained from that research project is something that not only got me in the door at my current job, but has also helped me succeed here. Nobody held my hand at Data+ and walked me through how to solve a real world data problem; instead, I did have awesome mentors who pushed me to make big decisions on my own and think critically, which prepared me so much better for a career in the real world.

I cannot say enough positive things about Data+. I got my first job out of college from a connection I made through Data+ and got a promotion when moving to a more advanced data company only a year out from graduation, because I learned at Data+ what most people don’t learn until a few years into their career.

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