Eric Callahan DSS MPS Alumni

Eric Callahan

I selected the MPS Applied Statistics program at Cornell because I was interested in finding a program that would provide knowledge of practical applications of statistics. Having completed a double major in Clarinet Performance and Music Theory, with a Minor in Mathematics at Ithaca College, I doubted my limited mathematical background would be enough to get accepted into a typical Masters program. I was also not very interested in taking the kind of theoretical classes that would put me on a PhD track. Cornell was the only school I could find that had a program like this. The fact that it was only one year long and that I could stay in Ithaca, where I did my undergrad, made it that much more attractive.

The most important thing I learned was the strengths and weaknesses of my own skill set. Discovering what I am and am not good at is very important in figuring out what type of career I wanted to pursue. Of course, I also learned lots of statistical procedures, when it is and isn't appropriate to use them, and how to utilize computer Stat packages.

The best thing I liked about the program was the diversity among the students. The program is small, so you get to know lots of people closely, but also maintain the big campus feel, since Cornell is so enormous. My favorite course was Statistical Methods. The instructor, Marty Wells, did a great job of providing practical content and not cluttering your mind with useless confusing info.

My expertise in learning the practical applications of statistics landed a job in Chicago working at Discover Card doing Risk Analysis. My advice to incoming students is to try to make sure you understand concepts. Don't get caught up in the minutia of assignments for the sake of grades if it makes you lose focus on the overall concepts, which will be much more useful in the real world. Especially at interviews, employers are much more interested in the thought process than results.

Just having the word "Cornell" on your resume automatically gives you a huge level of legitimacy in the eyes of employers. It will help you get your foot in the door for many opportunities that you might otherwise not be afforded.