Jeffrey Bah found new uses for his coding skills after joining the American Business Data Science team as a marketing intern in the summer of 2019. Tasked with surveying the market using Python and R programming languages and using the insights he discovered to create advertisements, Jeffrey wasn’t sure his skills were up to the challenge.
He found he needed to take a few math courses to improve his skills and was pleased with the results.
“I was surprised I was able to create and present meaningful information,” he admitted. “In my junior year [of high school], I’d earned certificates in Python, but my experience with R was just from projects that I was assigned.”
His co-workers were more than helpful in facilitating his on-the-job learning.
“They provided video links that helped me understand the process,” he said. “A lot of it was very self-explanatory, and I looked at external links and resources and collected all I could to get the code to work.”
The insights revealed through his analysis became the basis of compelling marketing narratives used to promote ABDS.
“In the end, data science is all about turning data into a story,” Jeffrey said.
When he stepped into the data science world, Jeffrey’s interest was biology, and he found the plethora of data in the medical industry exciting and full of possibility. He’s since turned his passion to electrical engineering and is no less encouraged by the amount of data to be explored.
“Now I have different questions, new questions,” he explained. “Data science can help me with them, as well. There’s always a place for data science in whatever you’re doing.”
And there’s nothing mysterious about data science, as Jeffrey learned in his first weeks on the job.
“I would describe data science as a tool that can be used to better understand how things work in basically any context,” he said.
As he gained proficiency, Jeffrey came to realize that success in the field had less to do with data science skills per se and everything to do with a directed passion.
“All you really need is an interest,” he explained. “It’s important to stay interested and passionate in your field just as a general rule in life.
“As a data scientist, you might not always be directly involved in the product you’re working on, but when you make new statistical discoveries, it’s still exciting.”
To improve efficiency across the enterprise — whether that enterprise manufactures widgets or markets waistcoats — the data scientist acquires data, looks at where processes and procedures succeed and where they fail, and from that information, discovers ways to reassess problems and attack them from new angles.
“I see data science as a versatile tool to help you understand literally anything better,” Jeffrey said.
Data science can reveal relationships, and when interpreted correctly, infer causation, a most helpful insight in any industry.
A recent project Jeffrey tackled involved exploring a government database of 18- to 26-year-olds to see if there was a correlation between people who exercise regularly and mental health and suicide rates. Jeffrey found a strong relationship between those who worked out and those with quality activities outside the classroom.
“Through this, I was able to visualize and draft a chart that helps in understanding why suicides are highly common in people who don’t work out,” Jeffrey said.
The applications of his findings are far-ranging, from the preventive medicine arena to college curriculum planning.
Working with data science, Jeffrey discovered, has a peripheral benefit: the honing of communication skills.
“I need to be able to present these findings properly and clearly,” he explained.
Over the summer, he discovered the power of applying programming code to data and then turning that information into words or graphs that can be visualized by others.
Despite his initial lack of math and programming background and experience, Jeffrey’s immersion in data science was a rousing success.
“A math background would have been helpful when I began the internship,” he admitted, “but it wasn’t required. No one should shy away from data science just because they don’t understand some math concepts.”
Jeffrey’s internship is having an immediate effect on his current electrical engineering project, a networking app he and a friend are developing as part of Northeastern’s Husky Startup Challenge. The app will assist students in locating social events in their area.
“I definitely am going to consult a data scientist to help me figure out my next move,” Jeffrey said.
His time at ABSD will have long-range consequences, as well.
“I now know that data science is something I can use throughout my career. I can either work with a data scientist or do it myself,” he said. “I think everyone is going to have to get with the program eventually. It’s hard to ignore data science. It’s almost a life skill.”
As technology continues to evolve, that life skill becomes more and more important — and more accessible.
“A large amount of data is needed for AI and machine learning,” Jeffrey explained. “People need to be ready to work with all that data, because there will be tons of it. As the field grows, there will be higher demand, so the earlier you get on it, the better.”
Jeffrey Bah is a sophomore at Northeastern University, where he studies electrical engineering. An avid sports enthusiast, Jeffrey enjoys football, wrestling, volleyball, and rugby, and he is manager of the Northeastern basketball team.