Hometown: San Diego, CA (used to be Manila, Philippines)
Office Location: Chicago, IL
University: University of Notre Dame
Major: Business Analytics
Start Date: June 2021
Starting Role: Data Science Development Program
Describe your role. I work on the KPM team to run advertisements for Kroger’s Internal Brands such as Kroger Brand, Home Chef, and Kroger Personal Finance (gift cards). My work is split between the Insights and Technology buckets. On the Insights side, I measure how well our ad campaigns performed and work together with my Account Executives to make sense of the data and present back to our clients at Kroger. On the Tech side, I build data pipelines and dashboards to automate data pulls and visualizations.
What was your experience like in the Development Program? I thought it was a great way to be immersed in the company and data science work in general! Being placed in a cohort, where everyone’s starting out from the same place, is incredibly helpful. It’s especially true when it comes to asking questions, thinking of ways to tackle the case study, and learning what others worked on in the project pool. Not to mention, they pair each one of you with two tech mentors who are there to not only help you set up your laptop for your first week, but help you figure what you want to work on when the Development Program is over.
How do you believe the 84.51° Development Program compares to other comparable Programs? I think 84.51° has the right timing between throwing a new grad into the fire and waiting too long before you get placed on a team full time. I like to divide the Program up into two 10-week halves: the trainings with the case study, and the project pool. The first half of the Program is meant to get you up-to-speed with the company, while building up the skills to perform data science work. The second half of the Program is meant to help you decipher what things you’re looking for in a team or day-to-day work through meaningful projects for 2-3 different teams around the company. All of these are done in 20 weeks or less, unlike some of the two-year programs that my friends have gone through.
How do you believe the Development Program equipped you for success at 84.51°? The Development Program allowed me to explore aspects in data science that were outside of my comfort zone without any risk. I came into the project pool fully expecting to do Insights work because that was the bucket I excelled at. With a nudge from my manager, I ended up doing two technology-focused projects that were new to me: one on package development, and one on data architecture. Both experiences led me to ask my manager to place me in a full-time role where it’s a 70/30 split of Insights and Tech work, instead of a pure Insights role that I initially wanted.
What did you learn from the Development Program that you have transferred into your current role? Functional Programming and Cleaner Code. I came into the Development Program writing dirty code and only caring about finding the right answer. Unlike school where you know what the right answer is, the only way you can find out if you did it correctly in the real world is going through line by line to see if each code block made sense. Having dirty code made it hard for me and my tech mentors to go through and check if my process was right. Thankfully, after several code reviews and advice from mentors, I learned to write functions to make my code reusable, while making it easier to read. Now, it seems like muscle memory to immediately make a function so that I could use that code in my other notebooks.
Is there anything you wish you had known about the Development Program prior to enrolling? Try everything you can in the Development Program. The Development Program is your risk-free fresh start before getting too deep in the weeds with data science. Let’s say coding is not your strong suit. The Development Program, especially the project pool, is your chance to not only get better at writing code, but to experience what it’s like to solely focus on coding every day. It’s these kind of experiences in the Development Program that push you to be a more well-rounded data scientist, while honing the things that you’re good at.
What has been the most memorable experience or favorite project you’ve worked on? I created a dashboard that aggregated ad campaign performance data by different cuts, making the data easy to pull for our Account Executives and saving hours of work a week. This was the first project that I was able to do both Insights and Tech work. Building the data pipelines for this allowed me to practice writing reusable code, while making it easy to debug later. After building the pipelines, I created the dashboard’s views based on how I thought the stakeholders would use it. It was also great product experience for me because up until now, I still get feedback on how to improve the dashboard, whether that’s adding new features or removing unnecessary ones.
Did you go through the internship Program at 84.51° prior to graduating? If so, what was that experience like?
I did! It’s very similar to the Development Program by having trainings as a group, but each one of you is immediately assigned to a team with an individual project lined up for the rest of the summer. At the end, you get to present your work in front of all the data scientists in the company. What stuck out to me was that 84.51° wanted the intern to drive the project, while the mentor and manager were there to provide resources and advice to get to a strong solution. Beyond a learning experience, it felt like my project mattered to the team because they continued to use my work even after I went back to school.
What advice would you give students who are interested in working in the Data Science industry? Get your hands dirty with data! You can play with a dataset in Kaggle, do research for a Professor involving data cleaning and analysis (great way to put data science experience on a resume), or even dive into NFL advanced metrics to figure out which players are undervalued for fantasy football. The point is to get excited about working with TONS of data and to be curious about the different ways you can interpret the trends and patterns you see.
What’s your favorite part about working at 84.51°? Do you have a favorite benefit or perk that is offered? Number one will always be the people for me, but right behind it is the work-life balance. I’ve always felt that 84.51° wants each employee to prioritize life over work by giving them 40-hour work weeks, work from anywhere options, and a ton of vacation and mental health days. All those things come in handy for planning trips with friends, visiting family for the holidays, or just simply resting whenever you need to.
What do you like to do in your free time outside of work hours? I grew up a musical person, and I like to pass the time by learning to play new songs on my piano and guitar. Besides that, I LOVE going to concerts and music festivals in Chicago! I also love to cook, and I’m determined to replicate my mom’s Filipino dishes.