Q & A with Kelly Blake '13
6 Questions for Kelly:
Q1. Where do you work?
I work at SAS institute. The headquarters are in Cary, North Carolina. It's a statistical software company that sells different products to customers who are looking to implement some sort of analytics in what they do with their business.
Q2. What do you do as an analyst for SAS?
My position here is an analytical consultant. Once a software sale is made, the consultants help the customer understand how to implement and use the product in the best way. There are many different opportunities depending on what you're interested in and what skill set you have coming in. I was placed in the analytic group because I was a math major at Wofford.
Q3. How did you use your summers to your advantage?
The internships I did during the summers at Wofford helped me be able come in right out of college and start working here. The summer after my sophomore year, I had a REU internship, which is a research experience undergraduate internship, something the National Science Foundation funds. I didn't even think I was going to be a math major at that point. I was at NC State for a summer where I got grouped with three other students from technical backgrounds. We had a ten week project together that was an applied math project sponsored by Pfizer. I felt like was really helpful because it gave me experiences in a research setting, and we were using MATLAB that summer, so I gained a lot of experience with that as well.
The next summer I was at Oak Ridge National Lab for a program sponsored by the Department
of Energy. I was assigned to one of the scientists there, and I had to help him work on his code
and make it more efficient.
One thing that employers really like to see is that you do something that you might never have
had any experience with before, and you were able to learn and be successful with it.
Q4. How did you get your job?
Right before the start of my senior year, I wanted to see if I could get a job. I met with career services, and Scott Cochran really was very helpful getting me started on LinkedIn and emailing people within the Wofford community, applying to jobs, applying online. A lot of times you don't hear back but it’s good to keep trying.
I also had a contact at SAS through a family friend. I expressed interest, I said: “hey, this is a great company, are there any places that you see me fit?” He came up with me applying for a consulting type position, and it went from there. It is helpful to know someone at the company that you're kind of pursuing, but at the same time, all the applications and interviews with other places help you practice when you go in for the real thing. I had two phone interviews with my manager and the recruiter that got in touch with me, and I also had an onsite interview that was a presentation. I had to prepare a twenty minute presentation on the industry leaders in analytics and business intelligence. One of the biggest things about being a consultant is that you have to be able to communicate well in front of a group of people. I did the presentation and also a round table question and answer with a group of managers from SAS.
Q5. How did The Space help you?
The best piece of advice that I got from Jennifer Dillenger was she told me to think of job searching as a three hour class. However much time you're spending on your other classes for homework and reading, you need to be spending on research, fixing your resume, and doing mock interviews. It's a constant process. Something I didn't realize beforehand was how much work you need to put into it.
I sent my resume to Jennifer and Scott to fine tune a few things. Depending on what job you're sending your resume and your cover letter to, you should have it match the job that you're going for. Specific buzz words and phrases listed on the job posting are helpful to have on your resume.
Q6. Do you have any advice for current students?
I think the biggest piece of advice would just be to start very early on and be very open to different opportunities. From my experience, I started in September, and I didn't get the job that I have today until almost six months later.
I learned a lot about myself along the way. Once you start interviewing with certain people, you find out, okay, I don't want to do that or I do want to try this. It's a learning process, and it's not
always easy. It can be discouraging, so you have to keep your head up and keep persevering through.