To some, numbers are a foreign language. But to others, strings of data are an incredibly revealing way to interpret and solve problems. And if you're one of those people, chances are, companies are looking for you and your number-crunching abilities to help them strategize their next moves.
Not all numbers are the same, however; there are several paths you can take and a multitude of roles that utilize these skills. Just ask these five data-loving professionals: With engineering, math, and science-based backgrounds, these number enthusiasts are now in roles ranging from data scientist to product manager.
Regardless of the specific role, however, the short story is that these employees have a big impact on their respective companies. After all, how they interpret data—and the recommendations they make because of it—directly impacts the company’s future.
Ready to have that kind of influence? Check out the stories below to find out what it takes to get a career in research and data.
Data Specialist, Factual
Rosalyn Ku was always drawn to numbers—so naturally, she majored in math. When she discovered data analysis company Factual at a career fair, she immediately connected with its focus. “Data’s really hot right now,” Ku begins, explaining that people are virtually checking into places and liking things on social networks, and businesses want to be able to use that information to figure out what customers want and need.
At Factual, Ku and her team help clean up “messy” data from online sources and structure it into information that companies can use. That involves scraping data from web pages, as well as doing a little coding work—“to slice and dice the data we acquire,” she explains.
Lead Modeling Scientist, Quantcast
When Nikita Lytkin started job searching, he was looking for a company with problems. That is, “a role that would allow me to be challenged with solving hard problems,” he explains.
Quantcast fit the bill—but more importantly, the company offered incredible resources to help him find solutions to those challenges, including access to data, an innovative culture, and a team of experts in modeling and engineering.
Specifically, Lytkin and his team help build out the technology behind Quantcast’s advertising solution, which means his days are filled with analyzing data, collaborating with other engineering teams, and brainstorming new solutions and ideas.
Research Associate, Basis
“I’ve always been really interested in objectively quantifying the human experience,” Brittney Reyes shares. To follow that passion, she majored in psychology and tailored her background to research and neuroscience.
Reyes’ interests led her to a panel discussion on wearable technology—which gave her an intro to Basis’ VP of product science. And when he realized that her background and passion aligned perfectly with the company’s mission, he invited her aboard.
At Basis, Reyes designs and runs studies to test potential product features, which allows her to constantly interact with data, help people track their own information, and truly shape the future of wearable tech.
Product Manager, ZestFinance
After majoring in chemical engineering, Priyanshu Jain wanted a career that allowed her to work with numbers and solve computational challenges. Initially, she helped combat credit card fraud, then jumped into the world of consulting—but eventually, she found that she’d best be able to combine her passions at ZestFinance.
“ZestFinance is the perfect place for me,” Jain shares. “It’s big data, but I get to work on the business side and meet with a lot of customers in the company.”
On a daily basis, Jain works with business teams to figure out what the company needs to succeed, then collaborates with the engineering team to make that happen.
Program Analytics, Facebook
After college, Pam Costa wanted to explore career options beyond her degree in biomechanical engineering. When she first considered Facebook, it was simply because, well, it’s a cool app that almost everyone uses. But when she dug in deeper to the company’s mission—to create an open and connected world—she connected with the bigger picture.
Costa’s day-to-day role begins with taking a look through current and historical company data, then figuring out how she can use that to impact the future of Facebook, “whether that’s helping shape the future direction of a product or helping move a metric in some way.”
Photo of data courtesy of Shutterstock.