Luna Jiang joined Foster’s Master of Science in Business Analytics Class of 2020 hoping to translate skills obtained in her engineering background into business acumen. Hailing from Beijing, China, Luna enjoys searching for the best local Chinese food in her free time along with cooking and writing. Like most MSBA students, the industry-sponsored capstone project stood out to Luna as a differentiator of the Foster MSBA program.
Finishing the MSBA Degree
As spring quarter dawned, Luna and her classmates were excited for the culmination of their MSBA degree—the practicum course.
To put it shortly, the MSBA practicum is a course in which students work in teams to complete a data-driven project for clients, which are composed largely of Seattle companies.
“Everyone in our class was really excited to have interactions with the clients and work with businesses like Tableau, Microsoft, and Alaska Airlines,” Luna recalls.
As a student in the MSBA program, Luna was already working at Microsoft but wanted to learn more about the company she enjoyed working with so much. The practicum gave her the opportunity to explore other parts of this local tech giant.
Unforeseen Silver Lining
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all MSBA courses shifted to a virtual format for the 2020 spring quarter. This can be an especially difficult transition for capstone-type courses that are based on in-person communication and teamwork between student groups and their executive sponsors.
“Our sponsors were very supportive,” Luna says on the shift to a virtual practicum course. “Whenever we had questions, they tried to answer them as soon as possible, and they never missed any of the calls we scheduled.”
According to Luna, in order to make the most use of their time, student teams needed to master the art of telecommunicating and thinking outside of the box with data. “When you meet someone in person typically you have more time to ask questions than you would in online meetings,” explains Luna. This is especially true when the learning curve for distance work was steeper than it is today. It’s been over a year with this ‘new normal’ brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and working professionals have finally figured out how to ingrain some of the humanity of being in-person into their remote work. “Back then everyone was just learning,” Luna states.
To optimize their time, Luna and her team employed the strategy of compiling comprehensive questions and running multiple tests with the data prior to the meetings.
These are skills that employers in the business analytics field look for, especially the ability to think ahead when working remotely.
“Before the pandemic, not everyone had remote work experience, but now I feel like companies look for it,” explains Luna.
Companies are not just looking for individuals who they know can work well in office settings, but also remotely if necessary. According to WeWork successful remote work experience is becoming an increasingly important resume differentiator.
For Luna and her classmates alike, the ability to work through the quirks of remote work in a classroom setting became an unforeseen silver lining of the remote practicum experience.
“If you’re looking for a career in the analytics industry, this is the program you want to join,”- Luna Jiang (MSBA, Class of 2020).
The project Luna and her team worked on was titled “Understanding and Improving Salespeople Performance,” and it used data provided from Microsoft workplace analytics to determine how the behavior of the Microsoft Sales Team impacted business outcomes. “The point was to focus on behavioral data and connect it with account performance so that key metrics that affect business growth could be identified,” Luna elaborates. “The types of questions we asked were what behaviors are revenue drivers and which ones are not.”
Apart from the practicum course, Luna also really enjoyed the mixture of technical and business skills that the MSBA program emphasized. With her background in information engineering and the expertise she gained during the Foster MSBA program, she transitioned into what she believes is her true calling—marketing and advertising. After graduating from the MSBA program Luna continued to work at Microsoft as a Strategic Account Specialist and more recently she began a role as a Product Intelligence Manager.
Although the project Luna completed through the MSBA practicum is unrelated to her current role at Microsoft, the lessons she learned while working on it still hold. “If you’re looking for a career in the analytics industry, this is the program you want to join,” affirms Luna.
Read more blogs on Business Analytics Practicum course below and come back next week for more on the practicum experience!