Engaged Learning

Pentaho Representatives Speak to Students about the Value of Work Experience

by Inge Lamboo

Pentaho Representatives Speak to Students

For the third year in a row, representatives from Pentaho came to speak in Professor Mouwafac Sidaoui’s Spreadsheets and Business Analytics class to help shed some light on what awaits the students upon graduation. Pentaho is a San Francisco-based company that specializes in data integration and business analytics for marketing purposes. They came to talk to the students about the use of business analytics “in the real world,” as Dr. Sidaoui put it.

“We focus on big data from a marketing perspective,” said Michelle Trowbridge, Senior Marketing Programs Manager at Pentaho. “That means that really, we look at consumer behavior and social behavior. It’s data on how to make sense of people’s habits.”

Donna Prlich, Senior Director of Product and Solutions Marketing at Pentaho, talked about the challenges marketers face when leveraging big data. “The challenge is to look at all this data you have and know how to analyze it, understand it, get value out of it,” she said. “Social behavior online is growing so quickly with social media, Instagram, Pinterest, other new apps and websites; good marketing companies follow that movement because to lag behind for even a minute is to lose your momentum. Tools like Pentaho pull data and info from data pools like Hadoop and help understand and analyze it.”

“Having guest speakers like this adds a dimension to what the students are learning that you just can’t get in a normal classroom environment,” said Dr. Sidaoui.

For the past two years, students in Dr. Sidaoui’s class have received paid summer internships as a result of these guest speaking engagements. This year, Ben Mayer was fascinated by Pentaho after their speaking engagement and immediately pursued an internship with the company. He since began working for Pentaho part-time and has just been offered a full-time position after he graduates this December. When Ben joined the MBA program he wanted to pursue a career in biotech but shifted gears after last spring’s Pentaho presentation and will now pursue the field of business analytics for marketing.

“There’s nothing like an internship or part-time job to really apply to your chosen field what you’ve learned in class,” said Ben. “I can’t even begin to describe how much I’ve learned.”

Ms. Prlich said, “Good interns have to have a lot of range, especially at a startup. You’ll be asked to do anything from helping with a big project to going wine-shopping for a launch party. When you apply for an internship, show them you’ve got fire, you’re not afraid to work hard, you’re creative, you’re energetic. Those are real assets in both your Master’s program and in the job market.”

“You should all find a company and field you’re passionate about and pursue an internship or a part-time position before you’re done with your program,” said Ben, “and I’ll tell you now to be persistent. Follow up on your initial email or phone call and remind them you’re out there. Be your own marketer, sell yourself. Craft your resume so that it applies to the specific company, the specific job, every time you apply. And be patient. Take the time to make a personal connection with the people in the company. Be yourself, be candid, show them the real you. And once you’re in, pay attention, and keep your eyes open. Immerse yourself and never stop learning.”