Thinking About A Graduate Career in Data Analytics?

We chat to Per4mance Insight intern, Acacia Matthews:

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If you are a final year student, you’re probably currently cramming away for your last few exams. You can almost taste the freedom! But for many students the ecstasy of graduation is negated by a feeling of uncertainty about their future. Whilst you have probably spent the last 3 or 4 years cursing whoever invented degrees, you might now be feeling apprehensive about leaving the comfort of education behind and entering the intimidating world of work. And your nervousness isn’t totally unfounded.

We’re living in uncertain times and 75% of graduates fear that the ongoing Brexit debacle will damage their job prospects. However – it isn’t all doom and gloom. The graduate unemployment rate is currently the lowest it’s been in 39 years and things are looking even brighter if you are considering a career in data.

A January report from Indeed showed a 29% increase in demand for data scientists year on year – this has amassed to a huge 344% increase over the last 6 years. Thanks to a rise in businesses adopting AI and Machine Learning, graduates with skills in data analytics can enjoy a broad range of job opportunities. From healthcare to marketing, logistics to finance, the world is truly your oyster if you can prove you know how to manipulate and interpret big data sets.

Yet against this backdrop of positivity for careers in data science , it’s still undeniable that there is a real issue when it comes to gender balance within the sector. According to recent research, 74% of Predictive Analytics professionals are men, and that number raised to 85% when looking at Data Scientists. It’s not only within STEM industries that women are underrepresented. Girls are less likely than boys to take Maths at A-Level and even less likely to pursue the subject at University.

At Per4mance Insight we’re not only passionate about encouraging women and girls in to the world of data, but we also want to support young people who are trying to make their way in to the industry. This is why last year we took on an analytics intern, Acacia Matthews. a final year Mathematics student at the University of Greenwich. Acacia has worked closely with Per4mance Insight founder, Emma Haslam, over the last few months, honing her skills in data analysis and preparing herself for post -grad life.

We sat down for a chat with Acacia to talk about her blossoming career in data analytics. We discussed girls in STEM, the beauty of data and heard how her time at Per4mance Insight has prepared her for the world of work.

Hi Acacia! Were you always passionate about mathematics at school?

As a young girl I always knew that I liked Mathematics. When I put in the effort, I saw that I received good results and that translated well with me. I did experience some thoughts of being unsure that I could take Mathematics to a higher stage than A-level. This caused lots of confusion when I decided I wanted to go to University – but in the end I chose what I enjoyed the most!

When you started your degree, was data analytics always a clear career focus for you or did that come later?

I came into University knowing that Mathematics is what I wanted to study, but not much more than that. The opportunity to explore the data applications of the subject only arose in third year, when I chose to study a module alongside landing a placement for a start-up business; both focusing on Data Analytics.

What attracted you to a career in analytics? Why do you think it’s becoming a more popular career choice?

I was drawn to this type of career due to noticing the outcome of the process. There is so much information hidden within the numbers associated with a business and exploring this is both exciting and interesting. These findings can therefore be used to make a positive difference for them. I think these reasons double up as to why it is becoming a career choice for more people, as this realisation is becoming more prevalent. With technological advancements happening more frequently and new methods (of customer interaction, for example) being tested online, Data Analytics is that much more vital. The process allows us to assess and analyse performance in depth, which could lead to huge improvements in the future.

How do you feel about women and girls still be underrepresented in STEM subjects?

It has always been that way and I do find the reality quite distressing, but I think it is fantastic that it has been acknowledged and people in higher positions are working to improve this. There are so many gifted women out there whose work in the STEM areas could truly make a difference – just as much as the men and boys.

What’s your favourite part of working with data?

Personally, the best part of working with data is the result. When all the numbers, graphs and words come together to create a picture of a business it is a beautiful thing to witness.

What advice would you give to a student considering a career in data analytics?

If you think this area could be of interest to you – try it! It is not necessarily what you might expect, as you are encouraged to use your own initiative and creativity to push for better analytics and interesting new finds. As a career path it is not only beneficial for yourself but also for others, as your skills would lead to valuable insight and influence over a company’s decisions! If attention to detail and working with computers is something you are interested in, then this area is the one.

How has your time at Per4mance Insight helped you hone your practical skills? What has it taught you about the world of work?

Working for Per4mance insight has significantly improved my practical ability. The business has encouraged self-development and I now have significant knowledge in working with Google Analytics – a widely used platform in this area. Plus, the independent aspect of my work has allowed for personal organisation and the ability to tackle analysis autonomously. As a result, my confidence in the world of Data Analytics has improved dramatically. Regarding the working world, being part of the team has highlighted to me not only the importance of data and mathematics in work, but also how fantastic it is when you find something you enjoy with a business that values their customers and employees.

Do you think internships are an important thing to do if you are considering a career in this field?

Yes, one hundred percent! Getting stuck into data analytics is the best way forward, it gives you a chance to explore for yourself and learn the existing methods. From then on it can develop as far as coming up with your own personal methods to explore, something that will only strengthen over time. With experience comes knowledge and with knowledge comes success!

Whether you have your heart set on a career in data analytics, or are still assessing your options, we wish all the luck in the world for you final exams!

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We’ve developed a great partnership with Per4mance Insight while working together on a number of A/B tests and site changes. Emma’s become integral to the process, helping with tracking, monitoring tests while they’re ongoing and producing post deployment impact reports. She’s now very much one of the team.

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