John J. Weidner
John J. Weidner completed Marist's Advanced Certificate in Business Analytics in 2014 and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Information Systems. He holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a B.S. in Chemistry from Iowa State University.
Tell us about your work or professional history before Marist, including years of experience, industry, companies, and positions.
I spent about 15 years in biotech R&D in a range of positions, including research at the bench discovering new drugs, and responsibilities that combined project management with laboratory work bringing new patient solutions to market. All along I spent much of my time “finding the story in the data”, presenting results to C-suite executives, and setting up information systems solutions that facilitated the efforts of a large research group.
What are your career goals?
I have always enjoyed solving big problems and coming up with solutions that can help people. So far, I have accomplished most of that in a lab. At this point I am in a process of reinvention, focusing on my strengths in aspects of information systems, data science, and informatics. I believe there is a growing need for scientists that can analyze increasingly large data sets and come up with solutions to a broad range of problems in health care, environment, economics, etc. I look forward to finding and telling these data stories for the rest of my career.
Why did you choose to pursue your graduate degree at Marist?
I heard about the Information Systems program at Marist from a family member. The campus is near my Hudson Valley home, but online courses are more flexible for my schedule. The reputation of the program also sold me; Marist IS graduates are sought by employers.
Tell us about a project or course that was particularly meaningful to your professional development.
All of the courses taught me how to use various data manipulation tools to solve problems. In MSIS 545 (Introduction to Data Analysis and Computational Statistics) I was introduced to R, an open source, extremely versatile statistical computation platform. If I had been aware of it earlier in my career, I am sure I would have used it extensively to support my research. The statistical functionality available in the various packages surpasses any commercially available solution I am aware of, and R is a free download. There are many times I could have used R for better results and visualizations of the data. I will certainly use it more going forward.
If you have already completed your degree, how has the graduate experience at Marist enhanced your career?
Earning the Business Analytics certificate proved to me that I enjoy the information systems side of R&D, and at this point in my career I want to pursue some aspect of it full time. In fact, I have enrolled to earn the MSIS degree at Marist to facilitate that career change.
What advice would you give to a student considering pursuing a graduate degree at Marist?
The pursuit of a graduate degree should encourage you to learn continuously and keep up to date by teaching yourself. Marist's graduate programs provide an excellent platform for that. You will be provided with experienced professors, tools, platforms and various resources to learn. It is then up to you to learn the material through your own efforts, the professor will help, but will not hold your hand.
If you took an online class or had online learning as part of a regular course, tell us about your experiences – any tips or suggestions to pass along to future students?
I took my entire program online even though I live near campus. Lessons were posted one or two weeks ahead, depending on the professor. This allowed for a lot of flexibility, but there is a large workload each week. I found it best to start as soon as possible after it was posted, spreading the work out over a week. It was simply too much to cram into one or two days end of the week and complete it effectively. Be sure to participate in forums, some of the best help is provided there from your fellow students. Final exams are typically available on the platform for 24 hours, announced at the beginning of the semester. Be sure to set that day aside, it was not unusual to spend anywhere from 6 to 12 hours to complete the exam.
Profile Tags:Profile Type: Graduate Student
Major: Information Systems
Academic School: Computer Science and Math