Divij Ranjan is a senior in LAS, where he studies economics and statistics. In February of 2020 he served as the student leader for the Illini Datathon, an event held on campus sponsored by Synchrony, P&G, Sandia National Labs, John Deere, and State Farm.
Question: As the student leader for the Datathon, what were your responsibilities before and during the event?
My responsibilities before the Datathon were confirming company sponsors for the event, finding the optimal space to hold the event, creating all of the marketing materials, helping to create the problem statement, and holding daily conference calls with the sponsors, Department of Statistics, and College of LAS to go over any logistics and details. During the event, the main responsibility was managing the event holistically and helping out the rest of the Datathon committee and sponsors whenever they needed assistance.
Q: What are your plans after college? How does providing leadership for the Datathon (and the Illini Statistics Club) help prepare you for that future?
I will be working at Bank of America Merrill in Chicago as a full-time financial solutions analyst. Being president of the Stats Club and director of the Datathon have really taught me the qualities of being a leader and how to deal with many real world problems that I had not been exposed to before. These skills will not only help with my career but also in different situations throughout my life.
Q: What was the most rewarding part of the event for you personally?
I think the most rewarding part was seeing the students come together on the first night. It was great to see the participants brainstorming ways for cleaning the data and how to approach the problem as a whole. They were all very engaged and seemed to have fun while they were working which let me know that the benchmark of what we envisioned to be the essence of the event was met.
Q: How many students participated in the event? What does that number say about the quality of the “data community” on campus?
We had a record number of 350 registrants for the Datathon. The fact that we’ve seen the number of participants continue to grow these past three years really showcases how much interest there is for data at our university. Everyone is trying to incorporate some level of data analytics into their skillset, and that’s why I believe this event will continue growing.
Q: What advice would you give to seniors in high school that are considering the University of Illinois right now?
My younger brother is currently a senior in high school considering the U of I, and the advice I have tried to give him is that you should consider a school that goes beyond your academic major or ranking. Your school shouldn’t just be a representation of your academics, but rather a representation of yourself. Looking back at my past 4 years here, I can say that from what I have been involved with professionally, academically, and socially, U of I has offered an outlet for me to express myself. The school has something for everyone, and I think that is what makes it so special.