Alumni Spotlight

Jeff Larson

Major/Emphasis: Actuarial Science 
Current Position Title: Associate Professor of Marketing
Company Name: BYU

Why he picked his major:

I knew I wanted to major in something in the realm of applied mathematics. I come from a family of engineers, so engineering would have been sort of a default path. In the summer before I started college, I received a letter from the department of statistics asking me to consider majoring in statistics. It felt right, so I signed up to be a statistics major on the second day of college (after being denied admission to the music dance theater major on the first day of college).

How schooling helped prepare him for his current position:

After graduating with my undergraduate degree, I began a PhD program in marketing at the University of Pennsylvania. The marketing discipline has two general research paths—behavioral (based in psychology) and quantitative (based in economics and statistics). The statistical skills I learned in my undergraduate study were directly applicable to my graduate studies in marketing models.

His advice to those currently studying:

If you want to study biostatistics or actuarial science or any of the other defined paths within the statistics program, I think that’s great. But a degree in statistics provides you with analysis skills that are in demand virtually anywhere and in any discipline. It might require some more creativity and legwork on your part to make contacts to break into those fields, but it’s worth the effort.

Other information or suggestions:

A degree in statistics makes you valuable to PhD programs in marketing. Marketing generates loads of new and interesting data, so it’s worth considering a PhD in marketing.

Jordan Gressel

Major/Emphasis: Applied Statistics and Analytics with Business Management minor
Current Position Title: Location Planning Analyst
Company Name: Nike

Why he picked his major:

I always loved business and originally wanted that to be my major, but after taking the Statistics introduction course, I realized I had a passion for that as well. Eventually I determined that a statistics major would set me apart from others in the business field. The emphasis of applied statistics stood out to me as I would be able to apply my skills in many different settings.

How schooling helped prepare him for his current position:

My schooling helped me tremendously for my current and past positions. Courses that used Excel, SQL, R and SAS were probably the most helpful as I use those programs/languages every day at work. I also feel that all the other major courses helped me be able to become a problem solver in any setting.

His advice to those currently studying:

Learn as many programming languages as possible (R, Python, VBA, SAS, etc) as they will set you apart. Internships are essential to future success so make sure to apply early and have many. Lastly, network as much as possible.

Other information or suggestions: 

Shoot for the stars and never give up. I was rejected from Nike multiple times before I finally got an offer.