Data Science and Analytics alumnus James Barran

James Barran

What have you been doing since finishing your studies? What are you doing in terms of your career?

In the year following my graduation, I attempted to find a graduate role as a data analyst. Unfortunately, roles in this field are very competitive and were particularly challenging to find in my local area. As a result, I decided to pursue a career in teaching since this was always something I had planned on doing at some point; I was just hoping to gain some real-world experience prior to becoming a teacher.

What company are you working for, what is your role and what does it involve?

I am doing my teacher training with Green Light Alliance who have a partnership with the University of Huddersfield. Therefore, I receive training from both providers and will obtain my PGCE from Huddersfield University. I am halfway through my first placement in school where I have been teaching Maths to pupils in years 7, 9 and 10. After Christmas, I will go on my second placement, which will be at a contrasting school, and I will teach there until the end of the academic year. Hopefully I will gain my PGCE as well as Qualified Teacher Status, so that I can embark on my NQT year.

What experiences at Leeds do you think have particularly helped with your career?

Students at the University of Leeds come from a variety of different backgrounds and cultures and I was very fortunate to meet many people who had different upbringings to my own. This has proved invaluable in understanding the children I am teaching, who are all unique and have differing experiences.

The quality of teaching and education at Leeds is incredible. This means that you must be resilient when you encounter difficulties with the content in order to succeed. Resilience is most definitely needed to maintain a career in teaching!

Why did you choose to study your particular course and why did you choose the University of Leeds?

I had previously studied a joint-honours degree in BSc French and Mathematics at the University of Leeds. The Mathematics department at Leeds is very strong, with several lecturers inspiring me towards specialising in Maths solely. It was therefore an easy decision to continue my studies in Leeds.

When considering the various master’s degrees on offer, I came across the Data Science and Analytics course (its inaugural year) which intrigued and interested me. My prior experience had been in the banking/finance industry, but I was struggling to find a particular role that suited me. However, it became evident that the skills and knowledge gained from this degree would be of great use to me in this field.

What was the best aspect of your course?

I was really impressed with the “hand-on” approach of this course. All modules allowed us to get first-hand experience with the different pieces of software that were most commonly used by businesses (R, SQL, Python, Tableau etc.). In addition to this, we were taught by current experts from the university who were working alongside LIDA and the NHS hospitals in Leeds, which provided powerful motivation. I personally enjoyed the connections to other departments, such as geography and business, which allowed us to witness the application of the tools/skills we were learning and focus on a specific subject area.

What activities outside of your studies were you involved in?

During my time in Leeds I was part of the badminton society. I just played recreationally on a Wednesday and/or Sunday depending on the demands of the course. Having something to do outside of studies, like playing sport, is extremely important for your own wellbeing and mental health and helps you to make more friends during your time at university. In fact, I also used to play 5-aside football with a group of friends from my undergraduate studies, on a Friday night. This was a great way to finish a hard week of study.

What would you say to students thinking about studying your course?

If you are interested in the practical applications of mathematics and statistics, then you should definitely consider taking this course. The world of data science is ever expanding, and businesses are becoming increasingly aware of its benefits to decision making. On the other hand, you must also be prepared to compete for jobs in the field of data analysis. Even though there are many jobs advertised in this area, each role will require slightly different attributes. Therefore, if you have a particular role in mind you must be willing to persevere in finding a company that provides it.