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Students and employers from across NC connect at data science career event

Want to be competitive in the job market? Skills in data collection, organization, and analysis are keys to thriving in today’s economy.

In a recent report from the Society for Human Resource Management, more than half of the organizations surveyed say they expect to hire more candidates with data analysis skills over the next five years. Moreover, 78 percent of organizations who hired data scientists and analysts in the last year reported difficulty recruiting for these positions.

In an effort to better connect employers with top data science talent, the National Consortium for Data Science (NCDS) teamed up with UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School to hold a networking event connecting data science and analytics students from across North Carolina with employers hiring or offering internships in those fields.

By the end of the evening, more 180 students from 11 colleges and universities had the opportunity to meet with 28 industry representatives from 15 companies. Also attending the event were 18 university representatives from seven schools offering advanced degrees in data science.

Students were pleased that the evening offered data science-oriented opportunities for careers or advanced study.

Rania Choukaili, a North Carolina State University student majoring in finance with minors in accounting, data analytics, and French, said she had attended another career event the week before, “and it was too broad for me to find what I needed. This event was interesting to me because I’m looking for a data analytics internship this summer, and I could come here to look specifically at tech companies.”

Employers, too, enjoyed the chance to communicate with an exclusively data science crowd. “The density of analytic talent here has been a lot higher than other career events. It’s nice that this is really targeted to the field of analytics, and in some ways, even to different areas of analytics,” said Scott Ryan, a manager of analytics at Hanesbrands Inc., who specializes in sales and supply chain analytics.

Becky Jefferson, a corporate recruiter at Hanesbrands, pointed out that analytics is becoming more important in all industries – even in ones you may not expect – so having a talent pool to reach out to is imperative. “Hanes is really growing with analytics. The last several years we’ve been heavily focused on analytics as a core competency, and it’s growing more and more. It’s important for us as an apparel company to show people why and how we use analytics,” she said.

As employment opportunities for future data scientists and analysts grow and morph around employers’ needs and expectations, connections between industry and the academic pipeline can help companies find the talent they need quickly and help universities better understand the needs of industry.

“This is at the core of the NCDS mission,” said Shannon McKeen, NCDS business development manager. “We bring together the academic and business sectors so that they can work together to build a thriving data science economy.”

Held at The Frontier, a co-working space that houses meeting rooms and community events in the heart of the Research Triangle Park, the data science career networking event was an important opportunity for the technology companies that will employ future data scientists and analysts.

Larry Pickett, Jr. of RxDataScience, a company located in The Frontier, heard of the event through public and email announcements. “There were so many bright and interested students asking lots of good questions right here at The Frontier. This event was perfect for our company,” he said.

Since there are so many versions of “data scientist,” the need for universities to work together in shaping data analytics talent and sharing opportunities is also crucial.

Rebecca Christiansen, associate director for employer development at UNC-Wilmington, attended the event to network with employers as UNC-W prepares to launch its new Masters in Data Science program this fall.

“We’d love to team up with the NCDS and the employers here tonight to bring something like this down to Wilmington,” she said. “We have such great organizations and a wide variety of employers that need data science talent there.”

To stay in touch with the NCDS; collaborate on a data science career event; or find out when our next data science networking event will be, visit datascienceconsortium.org or subscribe to our newsletter.


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