CareerBuilder partnership helps Emory's quantitative sciences have real-world impact

Dec. 18, 2018

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Megan McRainey
404-727-6167
megan.mcrainey@emory.edu

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Undergraduates in Emory’s Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methods meet to work on their capstone projects, using CareerBuilder’s proprietary data to uncover better ways to match job seekers to new career opportunities. Emory Photo/Video. 

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Emory and CareerBuilder, a leading provider of HR technology and data services, are joining in a new partnership designed to accelerate the success of the university’s liberal arts-centered quantitative sciences program and, ultimately, uncover better ways to match job seekers to new career opportunities. The partnership includes capstone project work with Emory College of Arts and Sciences and scholarship support for eligible quantitative sciences (QSS) students.

The inaugural capstone project pairs nine talented undergraduates in Emory College’s Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methods, also known as QTM, with CareerBuilder’s proprietary data.

QTM students are analyzing CareerBuilder’s deep, 24-year-old datasets, including aggregate information about job skills, resumes, geographic hiring patterns and other factors. Their goal is to help real-world job seekers in two ways: identify how to improve skills and career progression, and find the best location for new job opportunities. Capstone students are required to commit to the year-long project, which for many spans the entirety of their senior year. 

In addition to the capstone project work, CareerBuilder is making a $250,000 donation to Emory College’s Scholarship Endowment Initiative. Along with an additional $500,000 match from an anonymous donor, CareerBuilder’s donation is creating a new $750,000 need-based endowed scholarship fund that will support eligible quantitative sciences students.

“We are excited to announce this long-term partnership with Emory, which highlights our mutual commitment to the Atlanta tech community, QSS students and job seekers alike,” says Matt Ferguson, CareerBuilder executive chairman.

CareerBuilder’s comprehensive, unrivalled dataset on jobs and job trends allows the company to forecast where the job market is going, which increasingly points to technology jobs.

“In this environment, global workers will need more accessible ways of acquiring new capabilities — what we call upskilling. With this capstone project, we can bring data, technology and the liberal arts together to uncover how people can gain those skills and where jobs will be readily available in the future,” Ferguson says.

For Emory College, the partnership showcases the essential role that liberal arts plays in uncovering future strategies and provides students with a valuable “learn by doing” opportunity, which is a key part of the Institute’s commitment to experiential learning.

“This capstone project demonstrates how inherently complementary liberal arts and data skills are in the real world,” says Clifford Carrubba, QTM Institute director. “We are priming our students to be successful contributors in the modern workplace by giving them real world problems to solve. And it is gratifying to have a partner like CareerBuilder, who recognizes the value of this approach to education and its ability to transform the workforce.”

QTM students will deliver a comprehensive report in spring 2019 that details their findings and outlines next steps to CareerBuilder executives.

Emory’s liberal arts advantage

The Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methods is the first Emory College program to incorporate a capstone – an intensive experience more common at the graduate-degree level – as part of an initiative that launched four years ago.

Unlike data science programs at other universities that focus primarily on computer science and statistics, Emory’s program requires students to pick a discipline to anchor the QTM coursework.

The result is effectively a joint major, which provides students both a mastery of data along with the critical thinking skills found in disciplines such as English, art history and applied mathematics.

“This project is as an exciting opportunity to use our creativity and our skills to be part of their team,” says Sonora Martinez-Summers, a senior QSS major with a concentration in biology. “We are all invested in making sure we have innovative solutions when we are done.”

Emory’s liberal arts advantage was evident in the first meeting. The students, who had just been granted access to troves of real-world data, did not immediately jump in or begin noodling with the information.

Pablo Montagnes and Adam Glynn, the two faculty members overseeing the team, instead fielded questions aimed at refining the original CareerBuilder queries. Among the first question students wanted to know: what the company meant by “important” when defining the skills that advance job-seekers’ careers.

“The students we have are capable of this kind of work because they are not just technically savvy,” says Glynn, the associate institute director. “Our students know that before using their technical skills to answer a question, they need to use their liberal arts skills to confirm that it is the right question to answer.”

“If you just let the data tell you what’s there, the story goes all wrong,” says Montagne. “Our students are going to get the questions right first, so that they know the direction that leads to the most accurate answer.”

Student experience

In addition to immediately asking more questions about the goals, students also requested additional data from CareerBuilder. The idea, says senior Angelina You, is to account for the uncertainty of real-world information with data that hasn’t been cleaned up the way they have in classroom examples.

“Having more flexibility means having more uncertainty, so while it’s great to consider all sorts of factors, it’s really wonderful that we have each other and our professors there as we go,” she says.

In fact, many students found the teamwork aspect of capstone work a pleasant surprise given that it is often billed as more solitary work. For Jonathan Gomez, a senior QSS major with a concentration in informatics, the teams kept him on track.

Gomez has already had two data science internships, where companies let him use his technical skills to “run wild” on projects. He planned to similarly dive in on the decades of accumulated CareerBuilder data when his teammates began asking questions he hadn’t considered. His team, who is focusing on career skills, is constantly asking how to have the most impact.

“We want to have an impact not only for CareerBuilder but for Emory,” Gomez says. “I want to be part of the team that does so well that we keep capstones going for future students.”

To discuss how you or your company can partner with QTM on projects, internships or scholarships, please contact Molly Griffith, senior director of development, at molly.griffith@emory.edu