Goutam Chakraborty, Professor in the department of marketing at Oklahoma State University, said he begged, borrowed, stole and cajoled to get his students – 24 in all, ranging from first-year students to those in graduate programs – to SAS Global Forum this year. "This is my show of strength,” he said at Monday afternoon’s Reception for Academic Attendees. “It is a prime networking opportunity I wouldn’t want them to miss.”
Chakraborty and his OSU flock certainly made their mark, touting two of this year’s 10 SAS Student Ambassadors, one Honorable Mention, five who will present papers and one who earned a 2011 SAS Student Scholarship. “The students are interested in making connections and pursuing potential internships and career opportunities,” he said. “There is no better event to help them do this.”
“We have 23 students presenting this year; that’s a record number,” said SAS Student Programs Manager Elizabeth Ceranowski. She organized the event, which brought together students and faculty to network with each other and hear how SAS has influenced the careers and lives of several successful SAS programmers. This year’s conference includes 10 SAS Student Ambassadors, nine Honorable Mentions and 11 SAS Student Scholarships (three of whom are also paper presenters). Faculty scholarships were awarded to 10 professors.The Reception for Academic Attendees also showcased five experienced programmers who have enjoyed career success as a result of their unique SAS knowledge and experience.
Lauren Haworth-Lake of Genentech Inc. was one. “A lot of you have the opportunity to learn SAS in college. That would have made my life easier,” she said. Haworth-Lake began programming SAS for an organization in need of public policy research work to show how adequately feeding mothers and babies can save overall health care expenses. She experimented with a career shift into journalism for three years but found that her skills as a SAS programmer were in much higher demand. Today, she manages and mentors a team of SAS programmers and largely only writes SAS code to analyze her budget (making her quite popular among her management peers who come to her for help with their budgets). “You have a great opportunity, not to just be programmers, but to be true analysts,” she said.
Neil Howard, Director of Biostatistical Programming at Amgen, walked the group through the steps of her lucrative career path, emphasizing that we never know who we’re going to meet and where we’re going to meet them. “The two most important things you own are your reputation and your network,” she said.
Ken Koonce, Dean of the College of Agriculture at Louisiana State University, shared with the audience that he had recently heard that there are 350 recognized SAS PROCs. “When I started running SAS, there were only two: PROC ANOVA and PROC REG.” Koonce said LSU has taught SAS to more than 2,000 students and graduated more than 350 students with master’s degrees in statistics, including this year’s SAS Global Forum Chair, Debbie Buck.
Students and faculty enjoyed a brief visit with CEO Jim Goodnight, who shared that he first heard about a computer course as a sophomore in high school, and “the light went on” when he saw a Selectric typewriter ball typing on its own for the first time. “That got me interested in programming,” he said. “I guess things have worked out pretty well for me.”
Above all else, Goodnight encouraged students to find that thing they love to do and pursue it with passion.