The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Career Mixer Success Story: Master’s Student Lands Dream Job with Microsoft

The University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Center for Data Science (CDS) November Career Mixer has already worked its magic, according to student Kristin Lieber, recently hired by Microsoft shortly after meeting company representatives at the event.


Lieber, who will receive her master’s degree in statistics this May, knew that her background in statistics would fit perfectly with the growing opportunities available in data science.


“The data science job market is hot,” she said. “Less conventional majors who like to work with data should consider it - statisticians, biomed, physics, engineering.”


Lieber took the leap and reached out to CDS Executive Director Brant Cheikes, who provided helpful feedback about the presentation of her research measuring the impact of baseball stadiums on cities' social capital, work that is collaborative with sports management Professor Emily Must.


During the Career Mixer, Lieber presented her work to industry representatives. Afterwards, she engaged with recruiters from Microsoft’s New England Research and Development (NERD) Artificial Intelligence (AI) program.

Because she does not have a traditional data science background, Microsoft was not “on my radar as a potential employer,” she wrote in an email to Cheikes. However, after the conversation with Microsoft at the event, Lieber said, she “could see how my personal mix of skills and experience might be a match for their research team.”


After a quick application and hiring process, Lieber was recently offered, and accepted, a position in the Microsoft NERD AI rotational program. Located in Cambridge, NERD AI brings together 15 recent Ph.D. and master’s students in data science fields to work together on AI projects for two years. Lieber said this is a “dream job” allowing her to continue learning, contribute research and solutions to the company, and then, move on to try something new.


“The world is going through a technological reboot partially driven by algorithms,” she said. “The social impacts of AI on humans will be playing out in the 21st century and I'll get a chance to work on it. “


Lieber is looking forward to learning and working beside Microsoft’s diverse workforce and is excited to add her expertise in statistics.


“Microsoft is a great employer for people who like to learn, have hobbies, and families; and the pay, benefits, and other support are outstanding,” she said.


Before coming to UMass a year and a half ago, Lieber received a master’s in public administration from Syracuse University. Her experience at UMass helped her become well-versed in R, Python, Java, LaTex, and D3.


Based on her experience, Lieber’s advice to students in the field and looking for jobs is this:

“Put your work out there. Don't be afraid to say when you don't know something; the field is huge and no one knows everything.”


Written by Morgan Hughes