Ameya Agavekar'18, a Mihaylo College MS IT graduate who interned at Lionsgate Entertainment in Santa Monica in fall 2017.

Mihaylo College information systems and decision sciences graduate alumnus Ameya Agavekar ’18 recently completed a data science internship with Lionsgate Entertainment Inc. This year, he began a business intelligence and reporting analyst role at insurance carrier ICW Group in San Diego. Agavekar discusses the impact of his campus involvement in preparing him for this role, his career goals and how students can ready themselves for a rewarding future in the data science field.

Why should today’s business students study data analytics? According to Ameya Agavekar ’18 (MS – information systems), analytics is the wave of the future.

“Even as a student, don’t think only about next year or the next two years, but look at the next decade,” he says. “Every company will require analytics professionals in the near future, because it is an essential function of every business, from health care to banking to retail.”

Agavekar, who was honored with the 2017 Outstanding Student Award for his research in statistics and analytics, is preparing for a long-term career in data science, which he hopes will lead to an executive technology position in a Fortune 50 company. He recently served Lionsgate Entertainment Inc., a major film company, in a business intelligence and analytics internship at their Santa Monica headquarters.

“The moments I began and ended this internship have been watersheds in my professional development,” he says. “I have come a tremendous distance during this time.”

How to Land a Data Science Internship

Agavekar says his research award and business communications skills were crucial in landing his internship at Lionsgate. “Hiring managers look for some attribute that differentiates the applicant from others, and my graduate research project taught me how to be proactive and solve problems,” he says.

He recommends that students seek opportunities on career sites such as Google Jobs, Indeed or LinkedIn, though he says it is important for students to match internships with their goals.

“Try to expand your knowledge while also strengthening the skills you already have,” he says. “Identify tools that will stay in the market for a longer run – say, five to 10 years – and use your internship to try to gain at least above-average expertise in these areas.”

Agavekar says tailoring your résumé to the tasks and experience of the opportunity you are applying for, identifying keywords (such as Python or R programming) in the job description, and linking to an online portfolio are great strategies to maximize your opportunities.

“Web portfolios highly impact hiring decisions in this field,” he says. “Recruiters like to see real work, because anyone can list a skill on their résumé, but having done the work proves your abilities.”

While technical knowledge, such as statistical abilities, are vital in data science, Agavekar encourages students to not underestimate the importance of communication and project management skills in tech careers.

“Communication skills, which I gained through participation in campus clubs, involvement in Associated Students Inc. (ASI) and on-campus employment, was vital in my internship,” he says. “It is important to not only recognize and understand data, but to share it in simple words like stories with others as well.”

Identifying Your Place in Data Science

Agavekar says that analytics may be the language of the future, but it has many variations and emphases that can be tailored to student temperaments and interests.

“Analytics is a broad term,” he says. “I recommend that students identify what area, such as pre-analytics or post-analytics, that they would want to be a part of before they begin looking for opportunities.”

While statistics serve as the foundation, business analyst roles, for instance, are much more project oriented than technology based.

Agavekar notes that introductory courses, including ISDS 361A – Business Analytics and ISDS 361B – Business Analytics II, are prime opportunities to practice statistics and problem-solving skills. “These aren’t just classes but an opportunity to build your foundation,” he says.

He also notes that ISDS faculty, such as Associate Professor and Associate Dean Daniel Soper, Assistant Professor Amr Soror and Professor Dawit Zerom, have been crucial in his academic and professional development.

For More on Data Analytics Careers

Mihaylo College’s Information Systems and Decision Sciences (ISDS) program prepares students for opportunities in the data science field, including data analytics, with academic instruction from leading researchers in the field, career networking and connections to internships. For more information, visit the department at SGMH 4113 or online. CSUF students of all majors who are interested in data-oriented careers may also get involved in the Business and Data Analytics Club (BDAC), which provides technical workshops and professional development.