What Is It Like Being a Data Analyst? Interview with Sophie To HCC '16

We are happy to have Sophie To with us on the MyHealth Career Navigator Blog! Sophie To is currently a student at the Yale School of Public Health. Here she shares her experience working as a data analyst for a year before entering into graduate school.

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Pam Baker: Can you share what your role was at work?

Sophie To: I worked as a data analyst at the North Carolina Community Health Center Association.

PB: Can you start by telling us when you took that job and what you thought you'd be doing on a day-to-day basis?

ST: I had gotten the job from my HCC internship in 2016. As an intern, I worked with a lot of data and analyzed different nests of data regarding clinical outcomes and policy. I worked a lot with Excel, and I also attended meetings with members of the team. So when I took in the data analyst job I was sort of already expecting that, but what I wasn't expecting was to be exposed to so much more things. 

PB: Can you go into specifics?

ST: I would usually start the start the week with a team huddle to discuss what we would be doing. I worked by myself 60% of the time and the other 40% involved meetings with board members or calls with CEOs of the different community health centers across the state. Sometimes we had meetings with different organizations outside of North Carolina and we held conferences. 

For the most part, I worked on Excel analyzing the different types of data. For example, I would look at the levels of the uninsured or the number of medications in certain regions of the state.  I analyzed state level and data from the health center. 

PB: Can you give us some idea on how you prepared for those meetings?

SB: I think because I was an entry-level staff at the Association, I didn't do a lot of the presenting or talking in meetings unless I had specific data to share. Before meetings, I found it's important to look at the minutes from the last meeting to be up-to-date and not repeat information from the last meeting. 

For example, if we were talking to the CEO of one of the new community health centers in the state, I would do my research on what the CEO's position is, how long the community center has been around, what their patient profile looks like have to get a good feel on what to look forward to in the next meeting. 

PB: I'd love to hear about your values, your interests, your strengths and how they have shaped your career. 

ST: I think integrity is important in health care. I think being honest and doing the right thing and owning up to your words and actions is really important and especially since I plan on staying in health care for my whole career. I think integrity is very important since we're dealing with people's well-being and livelihood. I also really value humor. I want people to respect me and I want to always treat other people with respect. But, I think the ability to not take myself too seriously is important. I think if you take yourself too seriously you're always going to be upset whenever you face a challenge or face resistance from someone. If you're able to make something good out of a bad situation, I think that's really important.

PB: What are a couple of real passions or interests of yours?

ST: I've always been interested in the news and the dissemination of information for the public. Even when I was little, I always wanted to see Katie Couric and I wanted to be her.  I worked for the newspaper in college as well as a satire paper. I think it’s important for scientists and health care professionals to be involved in the spread of accurate information.

PB: And what might you say are a couple top strengths of yours?

ST: I am very thorough in my work and detail-oriented. I'm able to balance being detail oriented and being very accurate with being efficient. I think my work as a data analyst has really helped me find this strength.

PB: Right, I would agree and another one, another strength?

ST: Another strength I have is being able to communicate my findings and my ideas with others people. I am a very transparent person; if I have a piece of information that could help other people, I am open to sharing.

PB: Right, well very good. So Sophie thanks so much for sharing your perspective and your experience, I think it's going to be really helpful for students coming out of school and thinking about jobs moving forward. 

ST: Thank you so much!

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