Degree: MS in Economics
Class Year: 2017
When Roshmika Chandra began her internship at the University of California at Santa Cruz, she knew she wanted to be the total package. After leaving the field of sociology, Chandra decided that the Economics program would allow her to become the professional she wanted to be, “I knew that everything I wanted to do and learn I could at Drexel’s School of Economics,” she says.
A year into the program, Chandra gravitated to data analytics after taking two courses: Applied Econometrics and Time Series Econometrics. When the time came for her to complete an internship, Chandra looked for opportunities where she could develop her econometrics skills further and eventually took a position at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she worked on a data analytics project for a company called Glassbeam. During their work on the project, Chandra and her team sought to predict storage usage in data centers based on their history in order to better allocate resources for the company. “There, I realized it was very important to build your data analytics skills. It’s very important to be able to analyze your data, but first you have to be able to process your data, clean your data, and get a sense of it – for that you need really good coding skills,” she says.
While Chandra says she was reasonably fluent with time series analysis (owing to her background in econometrics), she was completely overwhelmed with the scale of the data. The data ran in gigabytes, and using the econometrics tools like EViews that she was familiar with was not possible. “I felt I was handicapped by my lack computational skills, both algorithmic and programming, to handle this volume of data and take it to a point where I can use my econometrics knowledge,” says Chandra.
While Chandra loved the work she was doing, she felt that she couldn’t add to the team as effectively as her peers. “When I started the internship it was really hard for me. I was essentially depending on my other team members to do the first half of the project because of my inability to code.”
Instead of allowing her team members to do the work for her, Chandra decided to begin a minor in computer science to make sure she could be a continued asset to the team, “The courses – Computer Science Foundations and Foundations in Programming – really helped me. After taking the courses, I was able to pick up the skills really well,” says Chandra.
But her newfound focus wasn’t an easy switch. With a background in sociology, Chandra found economics and computer science to be a difficult transition and did a lot of extra work to develop her skills, “I used to go and visit my professors all the time – visit their office hours, talk to them outside of their office hours – they really helped me a lot. If you really want to achieve something and you work hard, it’s out there for you. I’ve really come a long way.”
Chandra has since returned to the University of California to continue her work as a research scholar, where she continues to grow in her position. She says despite the hard work, she would love to continue to explore the field, “In the future, I would love to see myself as a data scientist.”