I graduated from the MPS Program in May 2010. The year I spent in the program was a very exciting one for me. I learned a great deal, met very interesting people from all over the world and thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Ithaca. After finishing my degree, I joined Google as a People Analyst in Mountain View.
The MPS Program was the best choice for me for a number of reasons. I was looking for an intensive program which would prepare me well for a career in industry. The program's strong focus on industry employment, reflected in the excellent placement record, was a big plus for me. Another aspect which I really liked was the fact that in addition to the core requirements I could tailor the coursework around my own interests. The excellent reputation of Cornell University in general and the Statistics Department in particular definitely added to my decision to pursue this degree.
I feel that one of the most important things I learned during my studies was the application of relatively abstract theoretical concepts to actual data to gather insights into how things really work. Over the course of this program, I got the opportunity to apply many of the things I had studied in textbooks to real data. As a consequence of this, I learned the importance of using domain specific knowledge to drive analytical inquiry.
One of the things I liked the best about the MPS Program was the freedom we had in selecting our courses. We had the opportunity to take courses in a number of departments including Operations Research, Mathematics, Economics as well as the Business School. I feel that this gave us invaluable exposure to the many different fields whereby data analysis is applicable. The MPS Project, which was an essential part of our program, was an excellent introduction to real world statistical consulting. Another invaluable facet of the program was the immediate access we had to a wide variety of career resources available at Cornell, more so since we had an extremely helpful and knowledgable career counsellor dedicated to our program.
With more and more areas adopting quantitative and information centric approaches to implementing stategies, the opportunities for statisticians in today's highly data-focused world are unbelivable. I think that its a good idea to keep one's options open and not focus on one particular industry as a potential source of employment. To this end, I would suggest exploring the wide variety of courses in the many different departments at Cornell and focusing on the general theme behind the different techniques of statistical analysis.
The multitude of statistical techniques we learned in the program was really useful. In addition to the theoretical foundation, we were also exposed to a number of statistical packages and programming languages widely used in industry. The methods and the programming skills I learned during the course of the MPS degree are now things that I use on a regular basis.