Data

Saint Peter’s University & the NAAIA Case Study Competition

This annual case study competition yields 3 credits, a $500 stipend, and an invaluable mentorship experience. Students are encouraged to apply here through April 26th.

For the second year, students at Saint Peter’s University have the opportunity to take part in a case study competition that offers an internship-type experience in the realm of data analytics. The case study competition is created and hosted by NAAIA, the National African American Insurance Association. NAAIA is a professional networking organization that aims to support people of color who work in or or are affiliated with the insurance industry. This support extends to students in the form of this case study competition.

Students will be part of a team that includes professional mentors from Verisk, a Jersey City-based firm that specializes in data analytics in the insurance, energy, and financial services industries. This fact sheet is a good overview of Verisk in terms of what they do and who they serve.

This is a new opportunity on campus and I’m the faculty mentor, so I wanted to share some details to help students better understand what it’s about and what they can gain from it.

Case Study Basics: A start-to-finish overview:

The competition stretches from May to October, with varying time commitments along the process. Here’s a broad overview:

  1. In April, three students from Saint Peter’s University will be selected to join the case study team. Applications are open and students can register here; a brief interview will also be part of the selection process.
  2. On May 12th, NAAIA will kickoff the competition via Zoom. Student teams will be introduced, the case study will be shared for the first time, and an overview of best practices from previous competitions will be shared. After this call, students will be invited to start their work in collaboration with the Verisk mentors.
  3. Throughout the summer, the student team will meet regularly with their faculty mentor (me) and the Verisk team. The specific details are up to the team to decide, but the basic gist is: the team must incrementally, week by week, push the case study analysis forward during the summer months. This may require approximately 3-5 hours each week through as students work to digest the case study facts, pursue avenues of research suggested by the mentor team, and start to build the framework of an analytical response. I accompany the student team the entire way, including attending the meetings with Verisk (mostly as an observer).
  4. By fall, the student analysis is likely 80% – 90% formed and the remaining work is to channel the analysis into a 15-minute presentation that will be given via Zoom. The presentation is what will be shared during the competition, on Oct 18th and 19th, 2022. The weeks leading up to the competition will likely require a more intensive time commitment as students work on their final slides and prepare to present.

Last year, Saint Peter’s University participated in the competition for the first time. The case study was about a cybersecurity breach at a fictional company; the student teams were asked to serve as consultants who were challenged to help the company formulate a response to the breach. The SPU team – consisting of Sam Dorielan, Tola Osipitan, and Alana Wilson – did an incredible job and placed fourth as the inaugural team. There was a watch party on campus and at Verisk. As faculty mentor, it was one of the highlights of my academic year to watch our students present.

NAAIA’s 2021 Case Study Teams – Saint Peter’s University placed 4th place

What students can gain from this experience

Specific, key outcomes that students can expect include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Regular learning-focused touch points with professionals from Verisk, a data analytics firm located in Jersey City. This is incredible experience especially if you don’t yet have professional experience in your major. The practice of meeting, communicating, and working hand-in-hand with local professionals who have your back but will also push you to learn is a unique “real-world classroom” experience.
  • Skills-building in various domains, including (a) critical qualitative analysis of a sample real-world problem, (b) quantitative analysis including data analysis and use of spreadsheets (e.g. Excel or Google Sheets), (c) visualization and storytelling skills as students channel their analysis into a final presentation, and (d) communications skills as students engage with each other and the Verisk mentors through a complex case study project.
  • Three credits and a $500 stipend earned for participating. There is also opportunity to win additional awards from NAAIA if a team places high enough.

In the end, my hope is this will be transformational…as you build new skills, forge new relationships, and write a new story about yourself to share with future potential employers.

Who can apply?

All Fall 2022 undergraduate students from all majors can apply. There is no limit in terms of student background or prior experience. The main criteria that I would recommend students consider are:

  • Can you commit to a few hours each week over the summer months to work with teammates to get the project started?
  • Can you also make space in your early Fall 2022 schedule to finalize your presentation and participate in the competition itself?
  • Can you move outside your comfort zone? This is key. The idea is not that you have the skills or experience at the start, but rather, be willing to take a risk and a leap into a new experience where you’ll learn many new skills and forge new relationships.

I truly enjoy serving as faculty mentor and encourage students from all majors to apply today. Students can apply via this form here through the end of April. Students can apply to join the 3-student team here. Applications are open through April 26th. All students from all majors are encouraged to apply.


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