AI and Analytics for Business


Student Perspective: Wharton Business Analytics Career Expo Panel

Student Perspective: Wharton Business Analytics Career Expo Panel

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to join my MBA classmates, Neil Assur and Greg Caiola, and Wharton undergraduate, Rich Durham, on a student panel for employers that were participating in the Wharton Business Analytics Career Expo. Representatives and alumni from companies such as Vanguard and McKinsey, all the way to Custora and Rocket Internet, showed up to hear what students were looking for in data science and business analytics roles, and what we were up to on campus to help prepare ourselves to make an impact in organizations like theirs. It was definitely one of the more engaging panels I’ve had the opportunity to join while at Wharton and I think that recruiters and students alike came away with a little more clarity on what the employment landscape looks like for data talent from Wharton and Penn.

My personal experience

I spoke on the panel for two reasons. First, as the former president of the Wharton Data and Analytics Club, I’ve been able to engage with a number of companies looking to hire Wharton students for data and analytics roles, while also frequently talking to students who want to work for those same firms. Second, I spent my summer working on the data science team at Wealthfront, a hyper-growth FinTech startup in Palo Alto, California. I was able to share my perspective on what I looked for in companies and data science roles during my job search, and why I chose Wealthfront.

How do I attract data talent from Wharton?

One thing I brought up early in the conversation was that companies and students are uncertain about how to attract one other. It seems these roles are charting new territory for schools such as Wharton, and that the recruiting process still falls into the “enterprise” bucket for many students and firms. I suggested that more transparency around the types of problems that future data scientists would be tackling is the key to attracting the right talent, and that company reps on campus should also be somewhat technically versed. This allows students to make informed decisions about the companies they ultimately want to work with. We all agreed that communication and feedback from both sides will be vital to establishing a robust recruiting framework for Wharton students and the companies looking to hire the right people to lead their data science teams and organizations.

Where should analytics live in my organization?

After my co-panelists and I made our introductions and answered questions from our moderator and AIAB Executive Director, Colleen O’Neill, we opened the floor up to questions and discussion from the audience. The topic that got the most interest from the recruiters in the room was, “once I attract and hire data talent, what is the best way to deploy those people within my organization?” Evidently, many companies are still keeping their analytics teams isolated from the actual business units within their organizations.

Research shows that companies operating in knowledge-driven businesses perform better if they can increase the level of data proficiency in their organizations. However, this doesn’t mean simply increasing the head count in the business analytics or marketing departments. The data-driven approach to knowledge acquisition has a much more profound effect when the ability to leverage data in decision making is distributed across the entire firm. This includes looking for data talent in an MBA graduate who has the ability to work in many areas of a business and effectively communicate about different facets of an organization to stakeholders.

Looking to the future

There’s still a lot for both companies and students to learn about data science and business analytics at Wharton. But with the work that AIAB is doing, along with the Wharton Data Analytics Club, the People Analytics Conference, the Data Visualization Hackathon, and the many data science training resources available at Wharton, employers are seeing the school as a vital part of their analytics recruiting pipeline. Our panel was a great example of the learning opportunities that develop when students connect directly with the firms that are looking to Wharton to help them navigate the rapidly changing world of data science and business analytics. I hope that this is a conversation that we can all sustain in many forums as we continue to make Wharton the recruiting school of choice for future data-driven executives and leaders.