A group of 20 students had the opportunity to visit New York City during fall break to connect with alumni, mainly those who work in the data industry.
Through a program called the NYC DATA Tour: Leadership and Innovation in Data Analysis, Technology and Applications, participants were exposed to a wide variety of careers in fields such as finance, biological research and news analysis. Their visits included multiple startups: Google, Bloomberg and BuzzFeed.
The tour was hosted by the Donald L. Wilson Program in Enterprise, which partnered with the Development and Alumni Relations Office and the College’s Center for Careers, Life and Services.
Students gave resounding praise for this year’s industry tour. “[The tour] really exceeded my expectations,” said Jarren Santos ’17, a trip participant.
They were able to see how what they learned about data analysis could be applied in a non-academic setting.
“[It] was a really fun way to learn more about what opportunities there are for people that are interested in working with data outside of the traditional research setting,” said Karin Yndestad ’17, another participant.
Students were also able to engage with alumni both during the company visits and at the Presidential Reception, where attendees included nearly 200 Grinnell alumni who also have experience working in industries other than data science.
“It was really, really fun to just hear and learn from their experiences. So, emotionally it was a lot more fun, and friendly and fulfilling than one might think,” Yndestad said.
Participants were also able to foresee how their Grinnell education can influence them after graduation.
“Getting to see each of [the alumni’s] career paths … and how we managed to experience what they’ve experienced, too, just by them talking to us, was really a phenomenal experience,” Santos said.
This year’s location and theme were chosen because New York City has a large number of data-driven companies, and data is also increasingly becoming more prevalent in many industries.
“Almost every person encounters data, so knowing that data is kind of on the forefront of every company and every business that you can imagine [is important],” said Nathan Dobbels, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations for Career Programs.
This tour is the fourth industry tour that the College has hosted.
“[The idea of the tour] was a collaborative effort to connect alumni and students. Each year the industry tour takes on a different focus and ideally goes to a different location,” Dobbels said. Past tours have been held in Silicon Valley, Chicago and New York City, each with a different focus.
The program aimed to connect students with at least two to three alumni each day, “hopefully leading to more internships for the College … by engaging alumni that haven’t been engaged with the College,” Dobbels said. These connections should help students “explore potential career paths.”
“[The tour gave] students an incredible opportunity to network,” said Montgomery Roper, Faculty Director of the Wilson Program. “Students had the opportunity to meet some Grinnell alumni and some non-alumni … who are well known in their field [and] who are doing really interesting things with data.”
However, the NYC DATA Tour was not just limited to work and career development. Participants had many opportunities to appreciate the city itself.
“Food was an integral part of the New York experience. I had three to four dinners a day so I had quite a good amount of time to network with individuals and really talk with people, not to say that all these meals were huge,” Santos recalled.
The location of the hotel where the participants stayed in also greatly contributed to the overall experience in the city.
“We were a block outside Times Square. [It was] overwhelming at first … but it was so fun,” Ynestad said. “We found this really cool café … and I also spent lots of time in Central Park.”