Psychology to Analytics

Henry Ford once said,

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”

Henry Ford

How often does the fear of failure keep us from chasing our dreams? My undergraduate experience taught me that going the extra mile to seize the moment is a much better way to live, regardless of what our fears may lead us to believe.

As an undergraduate psychology major, I realized quickly that being a counselor or researcher did not fit my career goals. However, psychological statistics piqued my interest and led me to add statistics as my second major. At the time, I believed my college experience had prepared me well for my upcoming mathematics and statistics courses, and I was unaware of the challenges ahead.

My first official class as a statistics major, Calculus 1pushed my intellect far beyond what I had ever experienced. At first, I worried that I had made the wrong decision and wasn’t cut from the same cloth as my statistically minded classmates. My colleagues had wanted to be engineers their entire lives, and my surface-level grasp of the material appeared miles behind my classmates’ confident (and seemingly lifelong) understanding. I needed to catch up—fast. I took detailed notes, scoured Google, and sought help from my peers. To my excitement, I passed Calculus 1 with flying colors and established good habits that would serve me for future semesters.

As time progressed, I experienced the joy of overcoming challenges. The challenge of learning statistics was exhilarating, and I wanted to push myself to greater heights. I knew I wanted to attend graduate school, but I wasn’t sure which path to take. Despite my love for statistics, I yearned for a career that would allow me to utilize the interpersonal understanding I gained from my psychology degree. It was during this period that I learned about NC State University’s Institute for Advanced Analytics, whose mission is to “produce the world’s finest analytics and data science professionals,” which includes an emphasis on technical communication and developing soft skills necessary for a successful career in business and industry. Although I scoured the internet for months after learning about the IAA, it was clear that NC State would remain my first choice. Fast forward to now—I am excitedly engaged with the coursework and my practicum team, and I am much happier and more fulfilled than I would have been on my original path.

I don’t share this story because it’s unusual; I know many people have had similar experiences. Instead, I share this story because it isn’t unique. I was afraid to fail, but now that I’m here, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My experiences taught me to echo Henry Ford when he said,

“There is safety in small beginnings and there is unlimited capital in the experience gained by growing.”

Henry Ford

Columnist Trenton Simmons