Networking event builds an analytics community for businesses and students

Translational Data Analytics connected leaders from more than 63 tech companies and students with data analytics skills at a special networking event held April 19 at the Faculty Club. TDA hosted the event in partnership with TechLife Columbus, a group of professionals that meet regularly to share best practices and foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

Michelle Reese, Columbus Collaboratory Vice President and Chief Talent Innovator, speaks as TDA Program Director David Mongeau looks on

Michelle Reese, Columbus Collaboratory Vice President and Chief Talent Innovator, speaks as TDA Program Director David Mongeau looks on

“The event was designed to grow the advanced analytics community in central Ohio by helping companies connect with the diverse data science and analytics talent across Ohio State,” says TDA Program Director David Mongeau. “We have to capture and help it thrive here.”

Roughly 120 business leaders were introduced to 80 potential internship and job candidates, including members of the Big Data & Analytics Association student group. Guests were also able to meet Kristin Tolle, Director of the Data Science Initiative in Microsoft Research Outreach, whom Ohio State was hosting at several engagements.

Companies in attendance included American Electric Power, Citigroup, Huntington, IBM, Prevedere, Rev1 Ventures, SafeAuto, and the Shipyard, while the 15 student majors represented included biomedical informatics, economics, engineering, math, statistics, and Ohio State’s pioneering undergraduate data analytics program.

“The sheer intellectual firepower in advanced analytics in Columbus is breathtaking,” says TechLife Columbus organizer Ben Blanquera.

Professional leaders also learned more about opportunities to engage in collaborative research and workforce development with TDA, which represents a $120M investment by Ohio State in growing student talent, supporting faculty, and pursuing ambitious research in areas such as precision agriculture and population health—all within the data analytics realm.

TechLife Columbus organizer Ben Blenquera (left) and Big Data & Analytics Association president Derek Sasthav at the April 19 event

TechLife Columbus organizer Ben Blenquera (left) and Big Data & Analytics Association president Derek Sasthav at the April 19 event

TDA’s focus on workforce development is based on feedback from industry partners and a mission to prepare students for career success after graduation. In addition to the networking opportunity itself, TDA arranged for professional coaching for students beforehand and provided them complimentary business cards for use at the event. Based on a student hackathon challenge it sponsored last fall that examined disparities between data analytics job postings and student resumes, TDA has also created guidelines for effectively communicating one’s data analytics skills and interests to potential employers. Following the event, students were able share their resumes with TechLife members via an online portal.

Jai Salzwedel, a PhD candidate in physics who is close to finishing his dissertation, came away from the event with several useful suggestions. “A few of the people I met recommended some software tools and languages to me as things that would be useful in their field of work,” he says. “I was really impressed by the number of people who told me to look them up if I needed any advice or an introduction somewhere.”

Salzwedel, who describes himself as “a pretty shy person,” also appreciated the opportunity to get more comfortable with the networking process in general. “Walking up to someone and introducing myself is an intimidating process,” he says. “The event had a very friendly, relaxed atmosphere, which went a long way toward easing the process.”

Biswajeet Panigrahi, a Fisher College MBA student, was interested in learning about new industry developments from analytics professionals as well as possible career opportunities within their organizations. He has already sent his resume to several companies for summer internship consideration.

“I am looking forward to hearing from them,” he says. “I got much more than I expected to get out of the event. The overall experience was simply awesome.”

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