From Miami into the workforce… and my experiences along the way

Hi! My name is Sophie Armor. I graduated from Miami in May 2020 with a B.S. in Finance with minors in business analytics and entrepreneurship. Upon graduation, I joined Fifth Third Bank as an associate data scientist in the Decision Science Group (DSG) at the bank.

My Miami Experience 

I moved to Oxford from just an hour away in Cincinnati. Both my mom and my older sister attended Miami, so I was pretty familiar and very excited to eat lots of skippers in four years. In terms of my education, I was always very into math and was drawn to studying finance but had an interest in the growing field of sports analytics that drew me to immediately declare business analytics as one of my minors. 

I started interning at CADS first semester of my junior year after taking ISA 291 with Dr. Weese. The first semester I was able to work on an experiential learning project with a bank. The purpose of the project was to perform a segmentation to identify differentiable, actionable and accessible customer segments. We were then to develop business strategies based on the insights. 

We leveraged factor analysis using the survey data to identify key questions for our analysis before clustering.  Our team had the tremendous opportunity to present out our analysis and insights to several individuals from the industry team. I would definitely say this played a big part in getting me to where I am today! After this project, I got to work on two more challenging projects with groups of amazing students that allowed me to gain valuable experience with workplace teams. 

Getting into certain classes at Miami can be hard… scheduling is stressful. There are several courses I took that I found to be extremely valuable. First off, ISA 291: Applied Regression Analysis and ISA 491: Data Mining. My current role includes conducting advanced analytics by utilizing predictive analytics, machine learning and optimization to deliver insights or develop analytical solutions to achieve business objectives. This is exactly what I learned in class and am able to apply at work. Getting the opportunity to deliver results, especially meaningful results, is crucial. I would also recommend saving code as applicable. At Miami, I primarily used R while I am now using Python – learning it as I go and spending time on DataCamp. I will say that knowing R was extremely helpful and (mostly) transferable to Python. 

My entrepreneurship classes really challenged me and made me grow as a student. ESP 252 is a class I believe everyone should take. The course is centered around leadership. Overall, the courses at Farmer paired with my three semesters as a CADS intern put me on a great path for discovering what I wanted to do with my post grad life. 

Beginning a Career in Data Science 

Like many others, I was unsure what I wanted and what life would be like after graduation. I spent the summer between junior and senior year in Chicago at W.W. Grainger in corporate finance, so not exactly the most comparable experience for my current role, but it was exactly what I needed in an internship. 

I was nervous, intimidated, excited and full of emotion as my start date got closer and closer this past July. My role as an associate data scientist is to assist in making data driven decisions (using data, statistical analysis, algorithms) throughout the bank. The projects that the Decision Science Group work on provide value and recommendations to support business growth. Am I qualified to take part in decisions that may change how the bank operates or markets to customers? I don’t know. 

As a new employee in the data science world, my days consist of working with others on my team to identify a problem with core questions to be answered, creating an analytical plan and then performing the analysis with check-ins with others throughout. The variety of projects that my team works on is very cool! I am learning each day and the Decision Science Group has a great environment for working together while getting any questions answered along the way. 

Working from home brought a new challenge as I transitioned into the working life as a new employee. I had to learn to manage my time as I work from my apartment. There is a lot of independence and a need for self-motivation. I have always put an emphasis on building relationships with those I meet and work with. This was both a challenge and opportunity in my new role as I begin to connect with people both in the Decision Science Group and other departments at the bank. 

Some Advice to Leave You With

Lastly, I want to give some advice (if anyone wants advice from a 22-year-old). 

  • Gain experience wherever you can 
  • Ask questions
  • Network!! 

Love and Honor,

Sophie Armor, Class of 2020