Rising Tide of Data Science at Stern

“Whether in academia or in the workplace, big data rules. With the emergence of new technologies, business fields that have historically been driven by qualitative-backed strategies are becoming increasingly numbers driven.”

Photo courtesy of Google Images.

Written by Kelly Xie, Class of 2018

Spend 15 minutes sitting in Tisch Hall and prepare yourself to be inundated with finance buzzwords: Sales & Trading, Investment Banking, Venture Capital, Private Equity, Asset Management… the list goes on. But nowadays you’ll also hear a different variety of buzzwords hovering in the air: from Business Analytics to Data Science, Information Technology, FinTech and more. Amidst a busy recruiting season for many Sternies, an underlying trend is gaining momentum: More and more students are making the switch from the reigning finance concentration towards the more tech-oriented data science track.

Stern’s new initiatives reflect this shift. This semester, Assistant Dean Ashish Bhatia announced Stern’s partnership with companies such as Google and HBO, allowing students to explore opportunities in tech and digital media. Eager to seek out the talents of students who crawl the fine line between business and technology, these companies have offered a series of events for these students. Earlier this semester, Google hosted an AdWords workshop, while HBO hosted a panel of recruiters to discuss the media company’s summer internship opportunities. These events, among others, have highlighted the practical applications of emerging technologies in fields like marketing, entertainment, and entrepreneurship.

Not a beat too late, Dean Rohit Deo has announced the rebranding of the Information Systems concentration to Computing and Data Science to “better reflect industry terminology.” This announcement comes as a timely change, pivoting the fate of this concentration towards a different and more focused direction. After all, analytics is less about the collection of large amounts of consumer data, and more about synthesizing and leveraging insights from that data to improve a business’s bottom line. “I like the change,” muses Colin Hong, a junior at Stern, “since it better reflects what I’m actually learning in my quantitative, data-driven courses.”

With tech gaining traction at Stern, clubs like Strategic Venture Society have stayed ahead of the curve. Paul Sondhi, founder and president of the club, remarks on how “SVS fits in this interesting overlap between tech and investing” in the world of venture capital. One of the club’s priorities is to help business students with little coding experience break into the business-tech field. How? “Running a speaker series, partnering with clubs such as BAC and EEG, and keeping our members up-to-date on what’s happening in VC and tech through workshops are how we’ll get there,” explains Sondhi. These endeavors are perhaps the first step in exposing business students to a world of possibilities that they may have not been previously aware of, at a time of great expansion in the tech industry.

Whether through classes, clubs, or internships, some Sternies are diving in head first.

Cathy Zhang, a junior concentrating in data science, was drawn to the versatility of the field. She remarks on “how eclectic data analyst positions are – they span from traditional financial services firms to academic research centers”. Zhang finds value in her financial information systems class, where she is learning “how digital currencies and encryption are changing the financial services industry”.

Thien Tran, a senior concentrating in marketing and data science, gained experience in the field through his internship with SFX Entertainment, where he harnessed the power of data to optimize consumer targeting. Beyond graduation, Tran aspires to create a “start-up that would aim to solve inefficiencies with today’s digital marketing techniques and fulfill opportunities that still have potential, like the mobile market.”

Trends at Stern mirror trends in the real world, and for a good reason. Whether in academia or in the workplace, big data rules. With the emergence of new technologies, business fields that have historically been driven by qualitative-backed strategies are becoming increasingly numbers driven. Whether or not you are well versed in Python, SQL, or R, recognize that the ability to think algorithmically and visualize data strategically is invaluable, now more than ever.

Adaptability is key to keeping pace with the technology age. The digital wave is upon us, and it is up to us whether we want to drown in a fight against the current, or ride the wave out to new opportunities.

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