My route to success at Illinois was unconventional, but I would not have had it any other way. Prior to setting foot on campus for the first time as a student, I had a plan to ensure a flawless college experience. However, things did not go according to plan and I spent many a night deep in thought pondering my next move. I considered a number of options including Business and Actuarial Science, and then took my first Statistics course. I have always been good with numbers so taking a Statistics course was inevitable, but I could not have predicted how easily the material clicked with me. I give my professor from that first Statistics course a lot of credit in helping me ultimately find my path as a Statistics major in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
One of my more impactful experiences I had in my time at Illinois was the time I spent working as a Course Assistant in the Statistics department under Dr. Uma Ravat for STAT 400 and STAT 420. In this role, I supported Dr. Ravat’s classes, providing any help she needed which often included grading assignments, updating course materials, and addressing student questions. In the three semesters that I worked in this role, she gave me increasing autonomy and responsibility for projects. This trust I built with her elevated my confidence and gave me valuable work experience that was relevant to my field. I believe this experience was a contributing factor in securing my internship at Discover Financial Services where I currently work today.
Following my graduation in May 2020, I joined Discover a few months later as a Data Science Analyst and part of their redesigned Analytics Rotational Development Program. The two-year program, split into three rotations, was relaunched in response to the increasing demand for analytical talent in the workforce. The ability to leverage technology and analytics for business use is going to play a key role in the success and or failure of countless companies as time goes on. I am a little over half way through my first rotation. I have learned a lot about my business unit and the financial services industry as a whole. Everyone I work with is incredible with high business acumen and technical skills that are off the charts. The rotational program has and will continue to give me the opportunity to learn about all parts of the financial services industry and everything Discover has to offer. I could not have asked for a better place to start my career!
For current students, I’d share that it’s okay to be a little bit lost. I was lost for the majority of my college career and, even though things didn’t go according to plan, I would not trade the experience I had at Illinois for anything. Throughout everyone’s life there will be good times and there will be bad times. We need to take the bad with the good and realize that it does get better. There is a light at the end of the tunnel even if you can’t see it yet.
(Last Updated: March 9, 2021)