Current Position: Data Programmer/ Analyst at Charles River Laboratories
Previous University: University of Virginia
Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background before pursuing graduate school.
A: I'm originally from Venezuela, but I moved to Panama when I was 11. When it came time to go to college, there weren't many opportunities in Panama to pursue the career path I was interested in. So, after conversations with my parents, I decided to apply to schools in the United States to earn my undergraduate degree.
I later enrolled at the University of Virginia, where, despite initially not knowing what I wanted to do, I fell in love with computer science. So, I pursued my degree in that field and graduated in May of 2020.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue your MBA, and what made you ultimately choose Northeastern?
A: After earning my Bachelor's Degree in computer science, I still didn't really know which area of the field I wanted to work in professionally. I eventually narrowed it down to project management, and started looking at different project managers within the software space to see what their backgrounds were. Funny enough, I found that a lot of successful project managers have some computer science background, and also a business background in management. I figured, what better way build management skills than to earn an MBA?
I knew immediately that I wanted to come to Boston, so I started looking at different opportunities for MBA programs here. I found out about Northeastern through word-of-mouth, and was really attracted to the fact that the school has a great experience-driven curriculum and corporate residency program. All of those things led me to Northeastern. And I have to say, I made a great choice.
Q: You currently have two concentrations in artificial intelligence and analytics. What made you choose these pathways?
A: AI and machine learning are super useful in business today, and I knew I wanted to get a better grasp of those concepts; essentially, learn them in detail and understand the actual math behind many of these algorithms that we take for granted. For instance, when you search on Google or YouTube, there's actually tons and tons of data being passed through these algorithms and models, but we don't think twice about it.
Both artificial intelligence and analytics are interesting to me, as computer scientists are naturally drawn to those areas. But I could also see their use cases in business, and in the world that we live in right now, data is such a useful commodity. Understanding how to handle data and knowing how to use it to your advantage—whether by optimizing a process you have within a business, to increase sales, or to improve customer experience—is a skill that I think is unparalleled.
Q: How have you applied your knowledge thus far at D'Amore-McKim to your current corporate residency?
A: Right now, I'm on my corporate residency as a data analyst at Charles River Laboratories. Basically, what I do all day is analyze scientific data. For instance, I'm building some models to predict and interpret sales data for a company. A lot of the concepts I've learned in classes, such as machine learning and data analytics, I've directly applied to what I'm doing right now for Charles River, and have even referenced a lot of my class notes which have been super useful.
As far as the other business classes, it's the MBA way of thinking that I've taken away most. You have a problem and you organize your way through to the solution. You start at the core issue, then determine how to address it, and understand the consequences of doing things in a certain way that are different from other stakeholders' perspectives. This way of thinking can be usefully applied to any field or function in your career.
Q: What long-term goals are you working toward?
A: My dream is to work in big tech as a project manager somewhere. Right now, I'm drawn to fields like blockchain, with a surge in new kinds of cryptocurrencies. It's a different way of thinking about systems because they're decentralized, whereas the ones we are used to are centralized. And so, I definitely want to go that route, and project management would be ideal.
“If you're going into a new industry like I am, don't be afraid of being uncomfortable because that's a part of the process.” says Irina Zolotnitskaya, MBA'21
“I chose this program for two main reasons—the corporate residency and the university's excellent veterans' services. When I began as an undergraduate, I struggled to adjust to civilian life. The strong veteran community was, more than anything else, what got me through.” says John McGuinness, MBA‘21