When you can take your passion and marry that with a career, you are primed for career success. Xue Yang, M.P.S., Data Science ’19, shares why choosing UMBC’s graduate program in data science helped her to carve out her career as a data scientist at NewWave.

Can you share your educational journey before coming to UMBC?

Before joining the UMBC data science program, I was a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Genetic Medicine. I was working on some experiment data, as well as DNA sequencing data analysis.

Why did you want to pursue your master’s degree in Data Science?

During my work, I felt the arrival of the era of big data, especially in the medical field. Every day, humans are collecting huge amounts of data. At the same time, we have more powerful computers and storage, which provide a great opportunity for data science. As a medical doctor by training and working on the mechanism that genes affect human disease, I felt that using big data/data science could greatly help disease research and healthcare improvement.

Why at UMBC?

It is a face-to-face program that allows students the chance to study and talk to professors and students in the class. Also, the programs are designed with working professionals in mind and offer courses in the evening and online. I was working full time when I went through the program.

Can you talk about what you’re doing now and how your degree has helped you get to this place in your career?

Now, I am a data scientist at NewWave, a leading provider of data/tech solutions in the healthcare field. I got this job right after I graduated from the data science program. This program not only prepared me for data science skills (programming, basic knowledge of data science) but also provided me a lot of opportunities. There are all kinds of meetups, academic conferences, and events that provide students a lot of opportunities to meet industry leaders and top academic talent face-to-face. This is not available at any online program, to my knowledge.

What kinds of things are you working on at NewWave?

I am a data scientist in our Data Scientist group. We are working on data analysis and Machine learning models exploration and development.

Can you talk a little about your experience with peer engagement and then faculty engagement while in the program?

The opportunity to talk with peers and professors face-to-face is really valuable for growing skills and experience. Our professors brought us a lot of real-world examples and experience of themselves. The students came from different backgrounds and they brought different expertise to the class. We definitely learned from each other.

Can you speak about work-life balance while attending the program?

I was working full time when I participated in the program. The evening classes were really great for me to use my time efficiently and without taking time from work.

Was there a specific course that you particularly liked?

DATA 606: Capstone in Data Science had really helped me prepare to go into the real world. In that class, I got a chance to use all the skills I learned and apply them to real-life problems. I still remember Professor Simsek told us to choose the project that you’re interested in and will be the future direction for your ideal job. I did what he said. When I went to job interviews, interviewers liked my portfolio since the projects were highly-related to the jobs at hand.

Another course I liked a lot was DATA 604: Data Management taught by Professor Patty Delafuente. In this course, I learned skills about data management, and also learned real-world experiences by mock fundraiser projects for startups and real-world teamwork. These were experiences that would be hard to get through online programs, and each one was definitely worth it.

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