Alex Moore M.A. '22 earned his degree from the Data Analysis and Applied Statistics master's program based in Northern Virginia.
What is your academic and professional background?
The story of my academic and professional career is looking for situations where words and numbers come together. Right now, I work as a contract performance analyst for the Federal government, where I manage the Department of Commerce's public-facing key performance indicators and work on strategic planning and implementation. Before that, I spent years working in research, writing published statistical reports on best practices in employee training and development, as well as other HR issues. That research work is what got me into statistics in the first place. I was an English major in undergraduate [at Virginia Tech]; when the research manager at the company I temped at after graduating saw that I could write, she offered to teach me statistics if I could join her team because she felt it would be easier to train a good writer as a statistician than a good statistician as a writer. I turned out to be pretty good at statistics, and the rest is history.
What prompted you to join the DAAS program?
Since I first learned statistics through self-study and on-the-job training, I joined the DAAS program to formalize my knowledge of classical statistics and learn the advanced methods that power today's cutting-edge research and technology. At the time, I felt that my lack of any degrees or formal training in statistics would put limit my midterm opportunities and put a firm ceiling on my career over the long-term. The DAAS program looked like a perfect fit because it focused on the applied side of the field, which I'm most interested in, and because its coursework provided a clear path to advance from classical statistics to advanced analytical methods, like machine learning models.
What are your plans after graduating from the program?
I'm still figuring this one out. I came into the DAAS program wanting to become a better statistician and knowing that the opportunities for a good statistician would take care of themselves. A few options I'm considering are transitioning from a contractor role to a federal statistician or data science role, returning to research in a more advanced quantitative role, or finding a role where I can serve as the top communicator on a data science team at one of the big tech companies with locations in Northern Virginia. Ultimately, the fit is most important, whatever my next step is. Long-term, I'm looking for a situation where I can balance my quantitative skills with my communication skills, continue to grow professionally, and be myself.
What is one significant thing that you will take away from your experience in the program?
"Machine learning is just a buzzword for statistics!" One of our professors early in the program said this, and it made the entire concept of machine learning and advanced analytics much less intimidating.