The Best Bunch of Analytics Interns Ever

2011 – Year Zero – The Best Bunch of Analytics Interns Ever

So this is simply the story behind one of the coolest things I have ever done.

Earlier in 2011, before I set up BPO Elite, I was chatting with a friend who was attending a local community college. She was trying to find a speaker for a business club she was an officer in. I offered to come in and talk about remittances. It was a lot of fun. After the talk and lots of Q+A, one of the students approached me and asked if we had internships.

Hadn’t really thought of that before, but it made a lot of sense. I had worked with several interns while with Wells, and generally introduced them to how we did analytics. So it was a natural progression.

So I took on the intern and before I knew it I had 5 of his classmates on board as well. As I was putting the business plan for BPO Elite together I came up with a list of things we needed to understand the competitive landscape around the new business.

I divided them up into 3 types of analytics interns based on their interests; business analyst, marketing analyst and data analyst. I gave each one a research topic, gave them in a crash course in Tableau and turned them loose on doing some public data mining and analytics for BPO Elite.

About the same time we got our first two clients. A small shipping company that specialized in shipping things to the Philippines and a local chiropractor. Both business owners were at a point where they needed help understanding some of the reasons why there businesses were not a successful as they thought they should be. They knew they needed help, but didn’t know where to turn . Fortunately I had the answer… they need to bring some analytics into their businesses.

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So before we go one, let’s level set on what exactly analytics is. In its simplest form it is a the discovery of patterns in data with an eye towards using these discoveries to help a business be successful. If you ask any 10 professionals who work with analytics you will get 10 different answers. It’s a broad topic with just about every business using analytics differently than the next one. And most small businesses don’t even use analytics. Its more in the realm of the corporate world.

So after explaining to my clients what I could do to help them using analytics and getting a good idea of their challenges, I came up with some plans and turned my interns loose.

We did some good in both cases. Mainly focusing on building demographic profiles of their ideal customers and mapping where they lived, we came up with some targeted marketing materials. We used US Cenus data, Google and Tableau to demonstrate the opportunity around them.

We also spent some time building a competitive landscape for each buseiness as well so the clients could see where they stacked up against them. And finally we added some customer insights, mining data from their social media sites and places like Yelp. All in all, we gave each business owner a sample of the things I used to do at Wells. In both cases it was a big help.

And the best part, the kids learned tons of things they wouldn’t likely have learned in a traditional corporate internship. They got their hands dirty with data and they made a difference in the success of a business.

Today, they are all employed in good jobs, mostly working in position with analyst in the title.

Pretty awesome stuff.

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