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Data Dive experience beneficial to students

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rachel Crouch

The experience continues to benefit Rachel Crouch.

The Krannert senior management major was one of five undergraduate students who won a data dive challenge in Chicago. The Kranalysts came out on top, finishing ahead of graduate students from Chicago-area business schools along with other Big Ten universities.

A similar event is set to take place when Krannert and Walmart team up to stage a data dive competition on April 2-3. It's believed to be the first data dive competition hosted on a college campus.

"I was surprised what we were able to accomplish as a team," said Crouch, who is studying Supply Chain, Information and Analytics. "We were amazed at what we were able to accomplish. We came back with a little bit more confidence moving forward and contributing to the workplace."

Crouch will graduate in May and has already lined up a job at General Motors working with its data enterprise warehouse team.

Crouch, a Fort Wayne native, reflects on her experience and what participants should expect from this year's event.

Question: Why is it important for students to be involved in a data dive competition?

Answer: Being involved in competitions, like the Kraft Data Dive, is a valuable real-world experience that professors can sometimes struggle to incorporate into the classroom. In my case, I had a chance to grapple with real-world data which is always much messier and more difficult than what we're provided with here in classes. It gave me a better glimpse into how to apply what I learn in classes in a more real environment.

Q: Does this competition emphasize the value of teamwork?

A: The Kraft Data Dive, we stayed up through the night and this sounds silly, but it was as simple as who got to rotate and who got to sleep at different times throughout the competition. We made sure to leverage different skill sets because we had marketing students, accounting students, MIS students, management students and everybody's individual skills contributed to our overall project, whether it was the presentation, the data mining, the statistics analysis or just general ideas.

Q: How has the competition helped in your classes?

A: After that competition, I spent some time in Las Vegas doing some application development. Bringing back that real-world participation with other professionals helped me understand that everybody is learning as they go, like being a student and not understanding what's going on and learning to ask questions and saying you don't understand is one of the most valuable things you can take with you into the workplace. Learning to ask questions and not be afraid to look into it a little bit yourself and admit that you don't know and learn something, that's how all the professionals I've encountered in my life have gained.

Q: What is your best advice to students who are about to jump into Krannert-Walmart Data Dive?

A: I would say go at it with as much enthusiasm as possible. Be prepared to make mistakes, be prepared to make breakthroughs. Put yourself out there; be a little vulnerable and you'll come back with so much more because of it.

Q: Why are you a better student today because of the competition?

A: I'm more prepared to link the classroom to the workforce. I see more value in what I'm learning in the classroom and can better connect it to a job.