As an Analytics Reporting and Technology Intern with FM Global, one of the world’s largest commercial property insurers, Data Science major Breanna Tulig ’20 is exploring her field through an innovative co-op developed in partnership with Bryant’s Data Science program.
The co-op experience, which began in June and ended in December, is invaluable says Tulig. “You get to develop your skills further,” she notes. “You’re able to learn a lot in classrooms, but it's a whole different thing when you're actually in the workforce and have to use the tools in real life.”
“We develop co-ops with industry partners to enhance students’ experience applying what they’ve learned in the classroom to the real world, to develop their employment skills, and allow them to explore various career goals and options,” says Suhong Li, Ph.D., Chair of Bryant’s Information Systems and Analytics Department. “Through working with industry leaders such as FM Global, these emerging Data Science professionals bring new ideas, fresh perspectives and analytic skills to the workplace."
Where classroom meets office
The co-op, Tulig explains, allowed her to dig deeper and explore more than a semester-long or summer internship would allow. “You're able to really understand what you’re working on and take on more long-term projects," she says. This summer, she worked 40 hours a week at FM Global and three days a week during the semester.
“With data science, you can go into any industry that you want. I like how Bryant sets you up to go in whatever direction you want within the field."
“It never seemed like work to me. I enjoyed it so much, because it's never the same thing,” says Tulig, who received both academic credit and financial compensation for the co-op. “I was always being challenged and always learning.”
"FM Global benefits by having co-ops contribute to real business initiatives and, in the process, bringing fresh ideas and perspectives. We hope the students benefit by getting the opportunity to work at a locally-based, industry-leading multinational company," notes Marty Semeraro '05, AVP, Analytics Reporting Technology, and Tulig's mananger at FM Global. "They learn about what it takes to be successful in a corporate environment in addition to specific hands-on experience with technology that is relevant to their career path."
Making an impact
Tulig’s excited to be part of a rapidly growing field critical to nearly every business. “As the world evolves and generates more data, we need to have people who can understand it so that we can make better business decisions based on that data,” she says. Her Data Science coursework puts her ahead of the curve. “Data science is such a new field and there are not a lot of other universities that have it as an undergrad program, even though it’s very appealing to employers,” Tulig notes.
The University’s Data Science program, says Tulig, empowers students to build a diverse skillset, including experience with programming and analytics, which prepares them to work in a range of positions across a variety of industries. “With data science, you can go into any industry that you want. I like how Bryant sets you up to go in whatever direction you want within the field."
“I really feel like I'm part of the team. People appreciate my work and they trust me to get the job done and do it well.”
Her Business Administration minor provides important context for her Data Science work, she says. “It’s good to understand the departments that you're getting data from and how they’ll use it,” says Tulig. “If you’re getting data from the finance department, you should understand how finance works. Or, if you’re working with the marketing department, it’s useful to know how the company uses marketing.”
Exploring new things
The FM Global co-op has allowed her to explore a wide range of data science processes. “I was able to talk to my manager about the types of projects I’d like to work on, and he gave me so many great opportunities to learn new things and develop my skills,” she says.
One of her favorite projects involved developing a data repository from nearly 100 freely available online sources to potentially develop more complete pictures of the company’s existing data models that aid the data analytics team in making business decisions. Tulig also enjoyed working with and learning from the business intelligence team as they "gather data from our customers, and use it to build reports that help us understand trends in our business.”
At the end of the project she presented her work to the management team. “It was really nerve-wracking at first,” she says. “But was an amazing opportunity to further develop my communication skills.”
One of the most important advantages of the co-op, Tulig says, is that it’s proven to her that she has the knowledge, experience, and ability to excel. “I really felt like I was part of the team,” she notes. “People appreciated my work and they trusted me to get the job done and do it well.”