The inaugural immersion for our Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS) degree took place in May. Twenty-nine students, drawn from all across the country, traveled to the UC Berkeley campus for three days of intensive workshops, networking, and even a baseball game.
The students began the immersion with a workshop on Leadership Communications with UC Berkeley lecturers Susan Houlihan and Doy Charnsupharindr. During the hands-on workshop, students were challenged to answer the question, "How can you find your authentic voice as a leader?"
A networking lunch followed this leadership workshop. Over lunch, the students were able to mingle with representatives from Uber, LinkedIn, Captricity, Yelp, Pandora, and other rising companies. Afterward, the students helped kick off the first day of DataEDGE 2014, where conference attendees explored Hadoop, UC Berkeley's own data science startups, and venture capital investments. Day one concluded with a keynote on ethics and data science by Cloudera's Jeff Hammerbacher.
"The last two days have been a whirlwind of excitement for me and the other students. This immersion has brought our online relationships to life, and we have had a chance to deepen our connections and form what hopefully will be lifelong friendships."
—Rahul Bansal, MIDS '15
The second day of the MIDS immersion was devoted to the I School's annual DataEDGE conference, which drew big names from a number of different fields and skillsets. The collected speakers provided a broad overview of the current state of data science for our students, all of whom arrived at UC Berkeley with different interests and talents.
"Since I have a background in finance, I came to the immersion thinking about data science through a financial lens. Exposure to other domains and applications at the DataEDGE conference was truly eye opening and forced me to expand my thinking about data science."
—Ross Boberg, MIDS '15
The third day of the MIDS immersion began with an interactive session on "Effective Collaboration in Companies," led by UC Berkeley School of Information Professor Morten Hansen. The session started with an exercise about a hypothetical company facing a collaboration problem. Students brainstormed ideas about how to salvage a flagging division — Should they shut it down? Beef up the team? Restructure the entire division? Through role-playing and group discussion, they worked to solve the company's problems, a useful practice for their future careers.
The immersion wrapped up in a suite at the Oakland A's stadium before the A's played the Washington Nationals. I School lecturer Andy Brooks walked the students through two hypothetical scenarios: one, in which a team needed to improve ticket sales and the other in which the league needed to better compete against other professional sports for fans' interest.
"The immersion has been so helpful, not only by allowing me to meet new people and discover different endeavors, but also by showing me how beneficial and genuine networking is when propelled by passion and curiosity."