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Alumni Interview: Joseph Oliveira


We caught up with recent master’s graduate Joseph Oliveira. We asked him about his interest in studying statistics and how the online master’s degree program worked for him.

What made you interested in statistics and data science?

Before statistics and data science (DS), I was working as an analytical chemist focused on drug testing using high-performance chromatography. During that time, I remember reading an article about DS being used to help in drug discovery. “Big Data” was in bold across the top, and the challenge of wrangling and extracting value from data was the theme of that article. After reading that, I went deep into the rabbit hole of DS, and eventually, I resurfaced at statistics and programming. I picked up programming with enthusiasm. Though, I felt some apprehension picking up statistics. In undergrad, statistics didn’t capture my interest as much as Linear Algebra or Number Theory. When I began to understand how statistics was applied in programming I became fascinated. Finding that statistics was responsible for the rigor of DS dissolved that apprehension in me, and my curiosity took over.

Why did you choose the online Master of Statistics program at NC State? 

For me, it was the economy of time. I was working full time. The online program allowed me to watch lectures after work. I especially enjoyed being able to rewatch discussions on difficult-to-grasp topics. The online program fit well with my overall work-life balance; however, it was hard work nonetheless. There were weekends I spent catching up on assignments, and many weeknights working late after dinner. I had a reliable support system of family and friends that helped me along the way. 

What was the most useful thing you learned in the program? 

The most useful thing I learned was how to communicate statistics and data science effectively in industry. I now work for a data analytics company where I focus on empowering users of the platform and improving the design and feel of our analytical routines. Remaining concise and clear is the fulcrum upon which statistics/DS teeters between being useful or being exclusionary. 

How has the degree helped your career?

With my Master of Statistics, I’ve been able to stand out within industry. For example, I am able to contribute meaningfully to discussions around the implementation of algorithms that leverage hypothesis testing and random processes. I am able to offer solutions to clients that are simple to implement but statistically mindful. I ultimately feel that I can speak to the application of DS with confidence. Pun intended. 

Would you recommend the program to others? 

Absolutely! This program is flexible and so instructive. I wanted to learn statistics to enter into data science, but business, life sciences, forecasting, and many more applications of statistics are covered. The professors are extremely supportive and are willing to go the extra mile to help. The program is led by professors that deeply understand how students learn statistics. There were many examples, analogies, helpful readings provided by professors, and office hours for one-on-one sessions. This, above all, is why I would recommend this program. Whether you’re a full-time student or employee, this program is able to deliver statistics in a digestible manner. 

Anything else you’d like to add?

I would like to thank the professors at the NC State stats program! Particularly, Dr. Justin Post, Dr. Ryan Martin, and Dr. Emily Griffith! They were outstanding to learn from and brought a level of passion, organization, and mindfulness to their courses.

A big thanks to Joseph for taking the time to chat about his time in our program. Great work! We are looking forward to seeing what you do next. Are you interested in taking your knowledge to the next level? Find out more information at our website.