Illustration by Liani Malherbe

What doors can a mathematics degree open? Sushant Adlakha from New York describes a career as a data analyst. 

I’ve always loved numbers. They seem to provide a certain ease and logic to the complicated world around us. In high school, it was through the study of mathematics I always received a thrill – certainly a greater thrill than studying biology. Only in college did I fully grasp the practical application of these strange symbols that represented something greater.

Pursuing a degree in mathematics, I was exposed to the vast array of practical applications mathematics provides and the ubiquitous nature of the field. It opened doors in the fields of science, finance, psychology and more; so many doors that it was almost too difficult to decide which one to choose at first.

In applying for jobs, I found myself primarily seeking roles involving terms as broad as “data” and “analyst”. Those two words imply vastly different things for different organizations, but I found myself driven towards roles in marketing. While jobs in finance and science are perhaps “more” mathematical, I was drawn towards blending math and the creative – to understand the impact of creative works on people and how to use numbers to influence (and nearly manipulate) the thoughts of others.

I found myself working as a Business Development Representative at a technology firm. The firm itself was filled with bright employees and the position had its own unique challenges. On the one hand, I was assigned the task of discovering potential clients for the firm and communicating with them. This certainly involved some level of analysis of the size of the firms and their potential revenue and ability to afford our technology, but the work involved a more intuitive analysis of data. Whether a company “felt” right was driven by many factors, and not necessarily measured, recorded or broken into an exact science – that application was part of my other function: data analysis.

The analysis primarily focused on the Google ad campaigns of the firm. Each month, the firm had a certain budget set aside for Google ad campaigns that were driven by specific keyword searches. My role was to accurately divide this budget among various keywords across different campaigns and locations. Additionally, consistent monitoring and analysis of the cost of each keyword search and the revenue it generates required me to make necessary changes to the functioning and spending on each ad campaign. This would become a more complex task when seasonal campaigns arose. Assessing the keyword performance using a variety of analysis (including the best Microsoft Excel has to offer) led to crucial decision making for revenue optimization.

The task is one that is ever evolving and never entirely runs out of ways in which it can be optimized. While it may seem tedious to scroll a series through numbers and correct outliers at first, the true enjoyment comes from discovering new ways in which one can slowly, but surely use the data to push their company forward – a feeling that reignites my love for numbers.

With this newly acquired skill, I hope to continue to spend time with numbers, understand what they’re saying and use my knowledge to use them to make the world a better place.

Sushant Adlakha

Data Analyst New York, NY

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