Feeling well-rested and rejuvenated from Winter Break, the month of January signalled the beginning of a month-long practicum sprint for the MMA students. For me, this meant joining the FreshBooks team along with three of my classmates to tackle a real-world data problem outside of the classroom. Given the recency of my undergraduate degree, this was also my first experience as a full-time employee!
The goal of the sprint was to understand the scope and deliverables that were necessary for a successful project, culminating in a final presentation to our classmates, their practicum hosts, and our faculty coaches. Throughout the month I operated in an Agile workplace environment, with daily stand-ups, knowledge sharing sessions, and team huddles.
This [practicum environment] provided a great opportunity to learn how data scientists operate in a corporate environment and understand the cross-functional stakeholder considerations present in these projects.
A crucial piece of learning for this is how to effectively communicate complex technical information in meaningful ways, depending on your audience. For example, in daily stand-ups to the data science teams, information is communicated based on data findings and modelling progress. Conversely, presenting this to marketing and sales team stakeholders required a different lens of business impact and key performance indicator metrics.
The month was filled with what many data scientists consider the most arduous but necessary step of project development: exploratory data analysis. Truly understanding the data, its relationship to business activities, and its role within the scope of the project, guides the direction of future modeling and deliverables. From there, we were able to develop our baseline model, and better communicate what FreshBooks could expect upon the culmination of our practicum in June.
Within my team, we had an excellent balance of backgrounds and experiences, allowing us to capitalize on our skills while gaining new knowledge from our peers. This ability to learn not only from our practicum host but also from each other highlights the high calibre of students within the program.
The month culminated with each practicum team presenting their findings and project deliverables, both internally to the host team and externally to the remainder of the MMA class and their respective hosts. Each project is unique in the applications being used, the industry of operation, and the scope of deliverables. It was inspiring to have the opportunity to learn about my classmates’ experiences and the new skills they were developing. For me and my team, it presented a platform to share all the hard work we had been conducting over the past month. Within the MMA we also support a bit of healthy competition, and I am happy to say that Team FreshBooks captured the win for the financial services companies with our presentation. It was a great way to wrap up the sprint and prepare for rejoining each other in the classroom after a month of working from home.
The Master of Management Analytics is designed to give students the advanced data management, analytics, and communication skills needed to become an analytics professional.