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A Day in the Life

Rachel Hyman is a True Entrepreneur Corps 2012 Fellow. Rachel is a rising senior at The University of Chicago majoring in Geography. Rachel is working with True company Metamarkets this summer, and shares what she is learning below:

My last two posts have been pretty high-level and abstract, reflecting on this idea of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. I wanted to wait until I had put in some good time at Metamarkets before writing about what I actually do on a daily basis. I’m technically a Marketing Intern, but like most jobs I’ve had over the last few years, I work beyond the confines of my title. Marketing covers a lot of areas; I technically do marketing for Edit Huddle back in Chicago, but my work there looks different than it does here for Metamarkets. Metamarkets is in a different stage, and a different space, than Edit Huddle. I’ve had no shortage of interesting, challenging projects in the last few weeks.

One of the biggest projects I’ve been working on, and will continue on for the rest of the internship, is profiling a series of data scientists. What is a data scientist, you might ask? That’s one of the questions I’m attempting to answer. One answer is that they’re someone that builds a story out of raw data. They make masses of data actionable. As much as the topic of “big data” has blown up in the media of late (I have a Google Alert set up for that exact phrase, and there are tons of articles and blog posts cropping up every day), reams of data are not, by themselves, sexy. A recent Technology Review article gives a good picture of what data scientists at Facebook are doing. Data science helped build LinkedIn’s “People You May Know” tool and Netflix’s recommendation algorithm. It helped detect trends in the 2009 swine flu epidemic 2 weeks before the CDC:

Source: O’Reilly Radar

Basically, data scientists are awesome because they’re highly technically skilled, often in subjects like math or computer science, and are able to make sense out of all this data. It takes a bit of a creative mind to be a data scientist, I think, which is fascinating. So I’ll be interviewing top data scientists to learn more about what they do and how they got there, and publishing those profiles on the Metamarkets blog very soon. This project would be impossible without the introductions provided by the Metamarkets CEO Mike Driscoll, who’s been called one of the pulse setters of data science, and has moderated a debate on the topic. In the long term, Metamarkets hopes to build a community of data scientists, and these profiles form part of that strategy. It’s an honor to speak with these data scientists, and I’ve already learned a ton. Keep an eye out for those profiles in the next few weeks.

In addition to that project, I’ve also gotten to hone my writing skills. I wrote a blog post about changes in female employment in the last decade, based off of a data visualization that GE released. I basically had to formulate some theories for why female employment seems to have stagnated in the new millennium. This was challenging at first because it wasn’t a topic I knew too much about, but I think I came up with some decent ideas in the end.

I’m also working on a piece about the benefits of hosted systems for marketing analytics, to be submitted to an online journal. I couldn’t even tell you what a hosted system was before the last week or two (and in fact, I had to sit down with our lead engineer and have him explain it to me), so I’m really proud to have written an entire article about the topic. That seems to be a theme of my time at Metamarkets so far–I can get up to speed about things I previously had no idea about, and then even turn around and write about them. That’s a good skill to have.

In general, I’ve also been keeping up with articles about big data and data science, many of which get posted on the Metamarkets twitter feed. We’re very thoughtful about what content we post and the way in which we present it. So one of my ongoing tasks has been learning how to tweet in the Metamarkets voice. I’ve also been thinking about the company’s social media strategy, and how to get things going in that arena that continue when I leave after the summer.

My work thus far has been varied and full of challenging, yet interesting, activities. I feel like I’m doing good, important work for Metamarkets, and I look forward to continuing on that path for the rest of the summer!

(Reprinted from the TEC Blog with Rachel’s permission.)

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