It’s a dream come true to land a job at a company that aligns with the things you are most passionate about. So you can imagine how exciting it must have been for sports lover Justine Huang to receive an offer from a large sportswear company, where she will be working as a data analyst.
Concordia’s Class of 2017 graduate and currently an MS in Applied Data Science at USC, Justine has actually been exposed to data science for nearly 10 years. One thing she finds cool about it is that “data science can be applied to any field, so there are many opportunities in that realm.” To accumulate more experiences and hone her skills, she has interned as a Business Intelligence engineer at Snap Inc. and a data analyst for the NBA’s LA Clippers. For her, data science is a career worth pursuing.
Justine recently joined a group of Concordia high schoolers for a virtual presentation in which she shared invaluable insights into her own journey on the path to a data-driven career.
Exploring Careers in Data Analysis
Justine’s data science journey started from 2013, when she was a HS freshman at Concordia Shanghai. As she recalls, math and statistics were her favorite classes in high school, which she believes are very important if one wants to get into data science. The alumna also took AP Economics and AP Computer Science courses. Like many of her peers, Justine tried out many classes in college, driven by her interests in economics, data, and coding. After switching majors at USC several times and learning different skills, she realized data science is where she can find an intersection of a lot of her different interests in one place.
“Being in data science has definitely brought me so many opportunities and really cool experiences,” says Justine. During her last year as an MS at USC, Justine had the opportunity to intern for Snap and LA Clippers. At Snap, she was on the People Analytics team, building dashboards and visualizations to help recruiters track recruiting progress for the social media company.
While interning with LA Clippers, she used machine learning and models to predict the attendance for each game and got to learn in a lot of different domains and work with cross-functional teams. Not to mention the bonus of getting to watch the basketball games in person, as basketball has been her love since high school. She adds, “It is a lot easier if you know what you like and if you are applying your work to something that you're really interested in.”
Data Science is for Everyone
According to Justine, data science is for everyone, and people can tell from her story that it is never too late to get into that field. While she was in college, to get a bigger picture of what data science is, she took elective and online classes on Python and sequel. Nowadays it is much easier for people with little background to get into that realm because there are many courses online about coding and computer programming.
However, if she could go back to high school and change anything, says Justine, she would have definitely taken the Big Data course taught by high school math teacher Dr. Peter Tong.
Concordia’s Big Data Analytics course is a semester-long Applied Learning course where Big Data students receive a crash course in data analytics before focusing on a capstone project that they are given free rein to choose the topic of. This project-based curriculum requires students to delve deep into their topic through research and analysis. One of Dr. Tong’s main objectives for his course is to give students “an extra edge or advantage over other high schoolers” in the data-driven 21st century. The overarching goal is to let students “gain an overall appreciation for the potential in data and to use the skill in looking for patterns to see what else these pieces of information can lead to. It’s almost like a philosophy.”
Though it may not have been direct, Justine has enthusiastically pursued her data science path, and it seems she is well on her way to what we hope will be a successful and fulfilling career. Congratulations, Justine! On behalf of the Concordia Shanghai community, we wish you all the best!