Will Gaston joined the Core Data and Analytics Department as a Data Analyst intern for the 2021 fall semester. Will is from Elgin, Illinois and attended Saint Edward Central Catholic High School. He is currently a senior at Marquette University and is expected to graduate in spring 2022 with a degree in data science.
Will brings great knowledge to the team, and we are happy to have him onboard. The team is excited to be a part of Will’s journey as he continues to grow in his data science career. Here’s a little more about Will!
Q: How did you find out about the Data Analyst internship opportunity?
A: My advisor from the Marquette Computer Science and Mathematics department sent me an email with details about a Data Analyst internship at Northwestern Mutual. After reading the description, the position sounded like it suited me really well, so I applied, and I was offered the position!
Q: Why did you want to pursue an internship with Northwestern Mutual?
A: I pursued an internship with Northwestern Mutual to learn more about data and analytics and to be able connect with knowledgeable people within the field. I knew Northwestern Mutual had a great relationship with Marquette and I heard about the experiences and growth opportunities within Northwestern Mutual from my peers who have worked here, which made me want to work for Northwestern Mutual, too.
Q: What do you hope to get out of your internship at Northwestern Mutual?
A: I hope to improve my data analysis skills and be able to successfully communicate my findings and solutions to others. Additionally, if I were given the opportunity to extend my time with Northwestern Mutual, I would definitely take it. I also hope to be able to develop my skills to the point where I can be offered a full-time opportunity after graduation.
Q: What types of projects are you working on currently?
A: I am working on data interpretation and analysis through Excel with financial representative sales data and data visualization storytelling through Power BI. I have been focusing a lot on filtering data to make different visuals for various Northwestern Mutual teams, which has been very interesting.
Q: What have you learned so far?
A: I am learning a lot from my manager about data analysis tips and tricks. By creating fast and efficient ways to extract and visualize data, I am becoming much more organized and saving a lot of time. I have also learned to recognize the meaning behind the data. Instead of just analyzing the numbers and only thinking about creating the visuals, I can now tell a story with data.
Q: How has your time with NM so far complemented your studies?
A: A lot of my studies involve data analysis and finding patterns within data, which is the same analytical thinking I use in my work at Northwestern Mutual. Additionally, the data analysis software I use at Northwestern Mutual is the same software that I use in school, which has allowed me to dive right into tasks instead of spending time learning the software.
Q: What has been your favorite course of study?
A: My favorite so far has been a visual analytics course, where I was able to code and create data visuals within several different software programs. I really enjoyed it when I was able to create my own sports application!
Q: Why did you choose to pursue a degree in data science?
A: I actually switched my major a few times before landing on data science. I was originally a computer engineering major, until I realized I really wasn’t passionate about engineering. Then I switched to computer science, but I found I didn’t love coding. Finally, I turned to data science, which ended up being a great fit for me. I enjoyed learning the basics of programming in computer science, but I also wanted to work with a mathematical aspect, and data science offered me that perfect combination. I love utilizing data and looking at problems from a data perspective, which is why I enjoy data science.
Q: What advice would you give other students looking to pursue an internship?
A: Keep reaching out to people and asking questions. I was offered my first internship because I reached out to the owner of that business. You never know what positions or opportunities are out there until you ask. It never hurts to talk to new people and gain more insight.
Q: What activities are you involved in outside of school and work?
A: There are two clubs at Marquette I am involved in that I’m proud to be a part of. I am on the men's club soccer team, which allows me to continue to play competitive soccer in college. I'm also a part of a sales program, which emphasizes career development. We do a lot of workshops with interview and resume prep in the sales program that help students form great connections to Milwaukee businesses so they can find a job after graduation.
Q: What is your dream job?
A: My dream job is to analyze data and improve performance strategies for the Chicago Bulls. I’ve been involved in sports my whole life and they bring me a lot of joy. I would love to take what I've learned about data and use that to improve a team. Creating an algorithm to predict how players will perform and the outcome of opponents’ seasons would be beneficial for the industry and something I would really enjoy working on.