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Ben Berkman

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'17 Economics, French and Francophone Studies | Research Assistant and M.S. Candidate, NYU Center for Data Science | New York, NY
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Ben Berkman

Liberal Arts Majors: Economics, French and Francophone Studies

Hometown: State College, PA

Current Location: New York, NY

What enrichment activities did you participate in as a student?

I took full advantage of the study abroad opportunities offered by Penn State's French department and by the Schreyer Honors College. My freshman summer, I lived with a host family in Besançon, France and studied at an intensive French language school. I spent my junior spring in Montpellier, France enrolled at a French university. As a sophomore, I traveled to South Africa as part of a comparative media course offered through the Honors College. Additionally, thanks to the generous support of the Chapel Executive Intern Program I spent two summers in New York City working at an environmental planning consulting company.

What was your first job after graduating from Penn State?

I accepted a job offer at Technomics, Inc. through on campus recruiting. I worked at Technomics from 2017-2020, beginning as an associate and leaving as a lead analyst. Technomics is a data analytics consulting company focused on cost estimating located in Arlington, VA serving federal clients. At Technomics, I became passionate about analytics and data science tools. This led to my decision to return to school full time in 2020 at NYU's Center for Data Science, where I am currently.

What was your favorite class?

I enjoyed Russell Cooper's Economics of Education honors seminar. This was the required senior seminar course for honors economics majors. The course examined American and international education systems through various economic lenses. As a college student, this certainly was relevant. More importantly, the course shattered several preconceived notions, as did many courses at Penn State.

How did your liberal arts education and skills prepare you for life after graduation?

Both at Technomics and at NYU, I was certainly not the most technically skilled analyst when I began. However, I firmly believe my liberal arts education equipped me to learn new skills quickly. Learning programming languages was much like learning French, for example. Additionally, I found that my writing and communication skills far exceeded my peers. This is a direct result of emphasizing these necessary attributes through a liberal arts education at Penn State.

What networking advice would you share with current students?

Through Penn State, I was connected with Rebecca Rockey to serve as an alumni mentor. Rebecca is a leading economist in commercial real estate, and we are still in contact to this day. I first met Becky in New York City when she graciously hosted me at her company and introduced me to senior leadership. To this day, we are still in touch regarding career advice, and she has introduced me to several very helpful connections. Now that we are both in NYC, I can count on Becky for any career questions that I may have.

What role have mentors played in your career progression?

During my time at Technomics, we took great pride in being an employee-owned company. To that extent, we put emphasis on mentorship. This manifested itself in several ways. From very technical senior analysts, I developed sharp analytical and programming skills. Through excellent program managers, I pushed myself for two promotions in three years. As I grew within the company, I constantly relied on more senior mentors for advice, motivation, and wisdom.

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