Jake Mainwaring, Data Science Intern, Glassdoor
Jake Mainwaring (MIMS ’19) spent the summer of 2018 as a Data Science Intern on Glassdoor's Decision Science team. We asked him a few questions to learn more about his experience and how the I School prepared him for the challenges he faced:
Describe a typical day at your internship.
The Decision Science team at Glassdoor is primarily responsible for product analytics, testing, and optimization. It’s hard to describe a typical day because there was a lot of variety, but I was usually doing some combination of the following: meeting with stakeholders to discuss analysis plans, gathering data, analyzing data, and presenting my findings to the team.
What was the most valuable thing you learned during your internship?
In school, it’s common for a professor to provide a dataset and a few key research questions. The focus is often on the methodology and answering those questions well. In industry, one of the most challenging but critical steps is figuring out the right question to answer, and convincing others that it’s worth investigating. This requires an understanding of what data is attainable, as well as the business impact that your analysis could have.
What was the biggest challenge?
Getting the right data in the format you need. When you’re at an internet company, there are many moving parts, and it’s rare that everything will be aggregated in the exact way you need it. Plus, queries on huge datasets can take a long time to run! I wasn’t used to dealing with data at that scale so I had to rethink much of my data collection process, but I learned a ton from my coworkers along the way.
How did your work at the I School prepare you for this role?
It’s hard to imagine having a successful internship — or getting the internship at all — without my time at the I School. Some of the technical skills I gained in statistics and programming really helped me jump in and hit the ground running. In addition, the diversity of interests among my classmates was very helpful. I went into the internship with a clear understanding of roles like product management and UX design, which helped me better understand how my work fit into the broader company.
Any advice for next year’s MIMS students as they prepare for their internships?
If you can, try to start doing interviews as early as possible. This can be tricky, because you may feel like you’re applying after having only been at the school for a short period of time, but many of the larger companies finish internship recruiting in the fall. Even if the early interviews do not amount to an offer, it’s great practice for others down the road.
Did your internship influence your career plans after graduation?
Yes and no. Before the internship, I knew I wanted to pursue a full-time data science role after graduation, and that is still true today. That said, ‘data science’ is a broad term, and the internship helped me to narrow my focus. I am particularly drawn toward experimentation and causal inference, and am looking forward to exploring this more after graduating!