USC students explore applied data science through club

From career development workshops to skill-building seminars, USC’s Applied Statistics Club brings data science and statistics to campus. The club provides guidance and additional educational resources to around 100 USC students who are interested in this rapidly developing field of study.

Founded in Fall 2013, this student organization, which is open to students of all majors and years, prides itself on being a platform upon which students can begin or advance their studies in statistics. ASC hosts numerous events throughout the year, including networking events and recruiting sessions.

The organization also invites guest speakers who are experts in the field to share their experience working as professionals outside of a university setting.

One of the last speakers invited to ASC was Louis Cialdella. Cialdella spoke to the members of the club about the work experience and knowledge he obtained working as a member of the analytics team for ZipRecruiter, an online employment agency.

Students learned about his educational background, his role in the company and some of the challenges the analytics team faces at ZipRecruiter.

“The ZipRecruiter guest shared a lot of his personal tips for students, not only about data science but in general for college students about to start their career,” said Hang Hang, the president of ASC.

Students also examined case studies about the common issues that data science professionals face on a daily basis. Cialdella discussed the best types of statistical models and how to accurately present the results.

When guest speakers are not presenting, the experienced members of the executive board at ASC conduct workshops for the other members on a weekly basis. The board teaches students how to program in R and use software programs JMP and Excel.

“As an applied mathematics major, there are a lot of roads that I can possibly go down, so ASC enables me to test out what I want to do in my future,” said Rebecca Block, a freshman majoring in applied and computational mathematics. “By being in this type of a club, I am left to experiment with data analysis.”

ASC members also attend numerous conferences and competitions. Last year, ASC hosted a one-day event in collaboration with Paramount Pictures. The company provided participants with a data set, and students were asked to determine the effectiveness of the promotion of given movies over social media.

They worked in teams and spent the day analyzing the data to reach a conclusion. Students also provided their own insight on what Paramount should do in the future.

A panel of eight judges, who already work for Paramount analyzing data sets, assessed the students’ findings.

“ASC to me means innovation and keeping up with the world,” said Grace Xu, a freshman majoring in business administration. “In the current world, big data is ever-expanding because literally everything we do can be viewed as data, and companies are finally starting to realize it.”