Interview with Master of Science in Data Analytics Student

By CSU Global - April 23rd, 2020

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CSU Global is known for offering Future Facing degrees, and one of those programs is our Masters of Science in Data Analytics (MSDA). Hands-on experience is critical to students’ graduating with skills that employers need, which is why the university uses SAS, along with other programs, so heavily in our curriculum.  

The following is a conversation with one of our current MSDA students, Jennalee. I wanted more information about why she enrolled in the program and what she likes most about it. Originally, the interview was going to focus on her impression, from a student’s perspective, after attending the SAS Forum in Washington, DC, this month. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was canceled in favor of a virtual forum, the dates of which have yet to be announced.  

What led you to getting into analytics?

So my background is in human resources and accounting, mainly — mostly transactional type positions. So in those roles, I began using Excel and doing a little bit of, what I didn’t know at the time, was data mining, from some of our vendors, and manipulating data. Then I found out that it’s something you could do for a living, so I did a lot of research on the differences between data analytics and business intelligence, or data science, and about universities and what they’re doing with this type of program. I looked at many things, including the certifications offered.  

Why did you pick CSU Global’s program?

I did my research, of course. Being interested in data, I looked at a couple of factors and one of them was, “Is it flexible — am I going to be able to fit the program within my schedule?” As far as that goes, I also looked at the different curriculums. I looked at Arizona State University, Oregon State, and of course, I have my undergrad from PSU, which is Portland State University.   All of them have just the beginnings of a data analytics program. I would say in that comparison, ASU and CSU Global both had the most applicability. So I also went on to job sites like O*NET and looked at what software programs suit what this position requires. SAS was one of them, along with Tableau and some other ones. With all of those different softwares, I was looking at the programs and saying, “Which program is going to offer real experience and give me skills for when I actually go into the workforce?” CSU Global was at the top of that list because of the types of software programs and programming we get exposed to and use in our coursework.   

What have you enjoyed the most about the program?

It’s a very big challenge when you’re trying to figure out new skills in eight weeks and also complete assignments, but for me, I love that part of it because it’s pushed my brain sometimes till it hurts, and you know it really pushes you to the next level. I’m also going to speak to the SAS part of this: It’s throughout my curriculum and not just a one-time class, so it’s being reiterated throughout the learning process and coursework. So, you know the fumbling around of learning something new, it’s reiterated throughout to really help understanding. Another thing I enjoy most is other community members — you know, like gitHub and things like that. When I’m looking at different explanations, everything is a community within data science. It’s not like “Hey, we’re going to do a super special thing and don’t get in here”; it’s more open, and people are willing to share that information. That, combined with the actual coursework, I feel like I’ve been learning a lot and that there’s going to be plenty of support out there for me after I’m done with my degree program.

How has SAS played a part in the program?

So SAS is very integral in our program. Out of the nine core classes, it’s been in at least four or five of them. I understood I would get a certificate, but it just popped into my email one day. I didn’t have to do any extra work for it, so that has been really nice. Like when I was doing human resources for my undergrad, there’s a big association that I’m a part of, but you have to do a lot of work for that, and you have to do a lot of outside testing, and it adds additional dollars and as a student, that’s tough. Just having SAS as part of our curriculum and joining with CSU Global is really important because it’s additional funds that I don’t have to spend. It also gives me recognition in the field that I’ve actually done some of these things.

How do you see SAS preparing you for your future career goals?

So this is why I’m a little disappointed the forum got canceled — and I’m still waiting for the [virtual] dates — because what I really wanted to do at their forum is connect. Like I said, I’m in accounting and human resources, but I wanted to see how different organizations have utilized the different solutions that they have so I can start to say, “Oh, here’s what I’d be comfortable in,” and ask “Where do I go when I want to challenge myself and maybe go in a different direction”  I also wanted to look into programming and the different solutions that they have, and having that baseline experience in Studio helps me understand how I can support a team using that software. Also, it was going to be an opportunity for me to talk to people about what I’m learning and what I’m doing; how would that fit into what you guys are doing? So it’s a networking opportunity…but [I’m] learning a lot about real applications in the field. Another great thing about them is, for students, they’re offering an additional certification for a very low price. We talked about the human resources association being very expensive; this removes barriers for me to be able to afford and also get additional free learning tools and additional certifications.

This discussion will be continued once Jennalee has attended the forum.  I look forward to sharing her impressions with you. 

Comments 2

  • Data analytics is a great program that not only trains you to become more marketable, but also helps you to think like a mathematician and statistician as the program’s core is built around math and statistics. The main difference between analytics and data science is that analytics is a subset of data science, much the same way the differential calculus is a subset of mathematics. I loved the program because it allowed me to utilize my mathematical and problem solving skills for analysis of data patterns and trends….

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