The Business Detective

Originally published by the LSU Foundation in Cornerstone Summer and Fall 2019

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Sarah Schneider

Ask Sarah Schneider, a senior majoring in information sciences and decision sciences with a minor in analytics, to explain how data science applies to the business world, and you might expect a dry, complex, or esoteric answer. But Schneider breaks it down beautifully: “Business is really just people communicating and transacting with each other,” she explained. “I analyze large amounts of a company’s data and help them understand how to use it more efficiently to enhance their communications and transactions. This helps the company perform better or find prospects they were looking for but couldn’t see. I’m like a business detective.” 

Less than a year ago, Schneider was enrolled at Baton Rouge Community College and brewing coffee at Starbucks. Since transferring to LSU—one of the only universities in Louisiana to offer data analytics at the undergraduate level—she’s had networking and professional development opportunities galore, including hands-on training with LSU’s industry professionals. She even looks forward to Mondays now that she has a new job assisting the LSU Foundation’s director of analytics, Rachel Veron. 

“I’ve gained so much confidence in my time at LSU,” Schneider shared. “I’ve had a lot of transformative experiences. I feel like a businessperson, like I will be successful when I graduate.” 

Among those transformative experiences is the moment news came in that she had been awarded a Jack and Sheri Sanders Excellence Scholarship. Schneider, who was homeschooled, lived in several states throughout her childhood and did not qualify for TOPS assistance. She had reluctantly taken out a student loan and shared a low-cost apartment, but both she and her parents were concerned about debt accumulation. 

“I found out I’d gotten the scholarship and I almost started crying in the middle of class! It was just so overwhelming. I was here by myself, supporting myself, and to realize I was going to be okay financially—it was amazing.” 

Jack (Business, ’76) and Sheri Sanders are advancing student success within the LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business through the creation of the Excellence Scholarship and their support for the Office of Business Student Success (OBSS). The couple believes that lending a hand to students who are willing to work hard and pursue higher education is critical for the long-term success of the state. 

“As a Louisiana native, I am hopeful that, with continued help from all involved, Louisiana will become a desired state in which to live and work, thereby retaining more LSU graduates as residents,” Jack said. “I also feel the OBSS is a great step forward in helping students better position themselves for success. My wife and I are very pleased to support LSU in this way.” 

Assistant Dean for Academic Programs Ashley Junek explained that OBSS takes a holistic approach to student success, meeting students’ current needs with academic advising and preparing them for the workforce with professional development services. OBSS also offers diversity and inclusion activities and encourages international experience to ensure students are well-rounded and poised to compete in the job market. 

“Thanks to support from the Sanderses and other donors, we have been able to hire new staff, increase appointment availability, and provide specialized workshops and programs to enhance the academic experience here in the E. J. Ourso College of Business,” said Junek. 

Schneider is one of many students to benefit from OBSS career prep services. Nervous following an interview that didn’t go smoothly, she scheduled a mock interview session in which she and a career coach walked through her concerns together. Behavioral questions such as “How did you handle a group project gone awry?” had been new to Schneider, but she soon conquered her nerves and mastered the technique of answering with confidence. Her diligence paid off: she landed two internships for the summer, at BBP and IBM. “Having that support here in the E. J. Ourso College meant a lot to me,” said Schneider. 

With everything the Ourso College, LSU, and the city of Baton Rouge have to offer, this business detective isn’t planning to leave any time soon. After graduating this December, Schneider would like to continue on with the college’s Masters of Analytics program, then build her career in Louisiana—a prime example of Jack and Sheri Sanders’ impact of helping talented LSU graduates uplift the state with their professional contributions. 

“It feels exciting out there right now,” said Schneider. “It feels like opportunity.” 

About the Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship and Information Systems

The Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship and Information Systems at LSU’s E. J. Ourso College of Business combines teaching and research to create a rich learning experience for its students. Relationships with industry and state agencies enable the department to assist organizations with issues related to entrepreneurship, information systems, analytics and business intelligence, as well as innovation and technological change and offer enhanced career opportunities for its graduates. Collaborative research efforts of its diverse faculty have resulted in major grants from the National Science Foundation and the state of Louisiana. For more information, visit business.lsu.edu/sdeis.

About the E. J. Ourso College of Business

Since its establishment in 1928, the E. J. Ourso College of Business has continuously improved and expanded its offerings for students and alumni. Additionally, the college has made it a priority to provide its faculty with the resources it needs to further research in every aspect of the business world and to produce industry leaders for a global work environment. For more news and information about the E. J. Ourso College, visit lsu.edu/business.

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