May 15, 2016
Katie Atkins is a pharmaceutical lawyer from Nashville, TN, who's pursuing her master's in data analytics from Southern New Hampshire University. If these two disciplines seem unrelated, read on. And find out why her boyfriend digs her data analytics skills.
Q: Why data analytics? Why SNHU? Why now?
A: I have been general counsel for a company that does outreach for Medicare Part B and commercial health plans for three years. Six months in, I realized that I was at a disadvantage in terms of assessing risks and opportunities. Analytics are central to our business, so I researched my options for "going back to school" while continuing this job I love.
I looked online and spoke with others. It came down to Northwestern University, some in-state university programs and SNHU. I chose SNHU for the flexibility, the price and the caliber. It really stood out as the best option.
Q: Though you're not yet through the program, how are your new data analytics skills coming into play at work?
A: In the past, I relied on intuition. Now, data models learned in class let me put proof to what would be otherwise hard to validate. I also participate more intelligently in conversations with colleagues, many of whom have a data background.
Q: Are you part of a new data trend, or just joining the party?
A: Data analytics is definitely a trend within a certain professional generation. For good reason. When you can produce something meaningful backed by numbers, it's helpful in proving your work's value and giving others insight - especially when you're talking about ROI or how to get from point A to point B.
Q: When did you develop a love for numbers?
A: I hadn't thought of myself as a number person until realized how much I enjoyed it. I did take two AP math classes at once in high school, so I guess that was my first clue. But my bachelor's degree is unrelated. I studied youth at risk, human development and crisis intervention. From there, I jumped straight into a legal career.
Q: Any advice for students just starting an education?
A: Look at your path from a few different perspectives. Take what you know you enjoy, then look at what degrees lead to opportunities.
Q: Do you use data analytic skills in your non-professional life?
A: I'm fascinated by the idea of diving deep into sensitive data. My boyfriend... he does a lot with trending. So we have geek talk together, mostly with respect to cybersecurity.
Q: How many thumbs up would you give the program?
A: Several! I really am enjoying it. Work can get in the way a little, and there's not a lot I can do to stop that. But my professors are incredibly accommodating and respectful of "the juggle" we do to better ourselves.
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