It’s laborious to not root for Cole Gulledge ’20 (M.S. ’21).
In 5 years, this standout Cougar earned an undergraduate diploma in economics and a mathematics minor, began 30 video games for the lads’s soccer crew, was nominated for the Colonial Athletic Affiliation’s Management and Sport Excellence Award and – in a remaining yr’s dash – capped his Faculty of Charleston expertise with a grasp’s diploma in information science and analytics.
It’s no shock, then, that this well-rounded 24-year-old has already discovered rewarding work as a technical affiliate/junior growth and operations engineer at monetary companies powerhouse TIAA (previously TIAA-CREF): the proper merging of his economics and information science levels.
It was economics professor Mark Witte who first launched Gulledge to information science in a particular subjects class on sports activities econometrics.
“Dr. Witte took an curiosity in me and supplied nice recommendation – he pushed me to take Introduction to Knowledge Science as a junior,” says the easygoing native of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, who’s fast to present humble shoutouts not simply to his professors who impressed and mentored him on the Faculty, however to his older sister Sam Gulledge ’15 and his prolonged household of coaches and teammates, as properly. “That was my first information science course, and from there, I simply caught the bug.”
However, between his economics and arithmetic coursework and his soccer, Gulledge had restricted time to discover this new curiosity earlier than it was time to graduate.
As COVID-19 impacted the arc of his educational profession, Gulledge needed to make some huge selections. The financial system was shaky, and he wasn’t assured it was the precise time to enter the workforce. And so, when the NCAA provided an additional yr of play eligibility for student-athletes whose collegiate careers had been interrupted by the pandemic, Gulledge was thrilled: Not solely may he proceed taking part in soccer on the Faculty, he may start a brand new educational problem there, too.
And, with its analysis alternatives, internships and smaller class sizes, the M.S. in Data Science and Analytics program appeared like the proper match.
“I appeared on the curriculum, and it wasn’t restricted to information science,” says Gulledge, singling out two programs taught by computer science professor Ayman Hajja specifically: “I loved taking Knowledge Group and Visualization – after which Machine Studying the following semester – as a result of it meant I received to spend a yr finding out with Dr. Hajja, and he was capable of get to know me. He was capable of monitor the event of my abilities and assist me progress, and that’s one thing that you simply don’t get in plenty of applications – that form of private relationship between college students and professors, which you’ll be able to’t put a value on.”
One other spotlight of his expertise in this system was working with Iris Junglas, professor of supply chain and information management, to scrape information from RateMyProfessors.com and mix it with the Faculty’s information to foretell scholar success. He realized plenty of problem-solving and communication abilities from his analysis with Junglas.
“Dr. Junglas additionally helped me edit a few of my writing, and that’s an underappreciated factor – particularly within the math and science fields,” says Gulledge, including that he appreciates the best way she writes. “Being an amazing author is so vital to have the ability to do alongside the analysis.”
It’s additionally vital in his new job at TIAA.
“When issues escalate, you will have to have the ability to clarify very tough technical points to others who could also be working in different components of the corporate, and you’ve got to have the ability to clarify issues successfully and respectfully,” he says. “Taking a really detailed laptop science downside that might probably hurt the corporate – and be capable to spotlight that to an government or a crew in order that they will take motion – is a particularly highly effective talent.”
One other highly effective talent is teamwork – one thing Gulledge was capable of apply as an intern at Charleston-based startup SpursTech, the place he labored with well being and sports activities efficiency information to create a well being care chatbot.
It was difficult – particularly because it was Gulledge’s first real-world publicity to the safety and privateness points that include working with delicate well being information. Not solely was HIPAA a priority, however so was cybersecurity – which has continued to take precedence along with his work at TIAA.
“Cybersecurity is an ongoing situation, and there are a number of checkpoints in place to guard our work,” he says. “You’ve received to watch out the way you ship issues, what you open – and being conscious alongside these traces is extraordinarily vital. I imply, I’m studying on daily basis.”
At SpursTech, Gulledge’s crew constructed a large dataset of 250,000 nameless telehealth questions and solutions.
“The concept was to have the chatbot give solutions to new user-health queries, working from the scraped telehealth information of questions and solutions that we had developed,” he says, including that three groups of graduate college students from Emory College, College of South Carolina and the Faculty of Charleston collaborated on the undertaking. “It was an amazing expertise working in groups from totally different domains on one undertaking.”
Working as a part of a crew isn’t the one soccer talent that comes into play for Gulledge nowadays. The truth is, the habits he realized on the CofC soccer discipline translate on to his success within the office.
“One of the vital issues is accountability. Being part of a crew, if somebody’s behind schedule, then all people’s efficiency is affected. That carries over instantly right into a office that depends on collaboration,” he says. “One other vital factor is communication. In soccer, there are 11 guys on the sector on the identical time, and with the ability to talk with each member of the crew is essential. Communication together with your superiors – coaches, athletic administrators – carries instantly over into the office in how I talk with my supervisor, my supervisor’s supervisor, executives. And simply being comfy in these conditions to collaborate and take route is vital, as properly.”
One more behavior he took from the soccer discipline to his job – and, earlier than that, his graduate research – is time administration.
“Enjoying soccer, it’s not simply coaching as soon as a day and taking part in on the weekends. There’s coaching, weightlifting periods – after which you will have movie and assessment periods with coaches. That’s most likely six to seven hours out of your day, 5 days per week. So, time administration is essential,” he says, explaining that he realized early on that he couldn’t begin finding out at 2 a.m. two days earlier than a take a look at.
And, as a result of a lot of the Faculty’s information science and analytics program is undertaking oriented, these time-management abilities set Gulledge up for fulfillment – and never simply in his graduate research.
“That’s precisely the place I’ve additionally discovered success in my job – the place I’ve been engaged on initiatives for growth groups to take a look at. It’s not a one-week factor, not a two-week factor; it’s a multiple-month undertaking,” he says. “With the ability to look forward and successfully handle my time and produce work with these totally different sorts of elements and timelines: It is extremely much like my grasp’s curriculum, particularly in analysis – and my time on the soccer crew.”
As a brand new worker at TIAA, Gulledge is near finishing the primary of 4 six-month rotations throughout totally different areas of the corporate.
“They let you know to be a sponge, to soak up as a lot info as you possibly can so that you’re higher capable of perceive how different groups work and the way different components of the corporate function – the way it all meshes collectively,” he says, explaining that he’s at present working with advanced information. “It’s completely monumental quantities of knowledge – processed each second in parallel – that I’m having the chance to work with. Particularly, I’m accountable for telemetry inside the crew, which is the monitoring of high-frequency information. I’m simply taking the whole lot with a ‘cup half full’ strategy – and studying the whole lot I can.”
Gulledge has his eye on the cloud-based crew for his subsequent rotation.
“That’s an entire totally different set of terminology and abilities that I don’t have a lot expertise with, however it might be unbelievable to have the ability to do,” he says. “Doing a little machine studying in a cloud surroundings could be an final dream gig for me. Working with monetary information and offering options on a macroeconomic scale utilizing cutting-edge tech – that might simply be superior.”