Many people think that athletics and academics are completely different fields, but alumnus Quinton Bonnell is bringing together baseball and data through his data analysis internship with Lion Graph.
“When I started learning about data, I started actually with baseball because that’s been a passion of mine since I was very young … and how advanced statistics can work in baseball,” he said. “And then I started applying it more to my major in business-related fields.”
Data Analytics professor David Cochran said Bonnell was the one who engaged in conversation with him in November about learning data analytics.
“Quinton heard that the School of Business was preparing to launch a Business Data Analytics program, and he approached me to ask about the possibility of adding analytics to his skillset before he graduated,” he said. “Quinton is a finance major, with connections to professionals in the field, so he understood the value it could add to his resumé.”
Cochran said Bonnell caught on quickly and started with a focus he already knows well — baseball.
“He undertook an introductory training regimen I recommended to him,” said Cochran. “He was smart enough to recognize that he needed to develop his own pet project to really learn and so he built and customized a set of baseball statistics to practice his new skills.
“This was a perfect strategy. Sports analytics are both fun and useful, and there are plenty of good sources of statistics just waiting to be put to use.”
Bonnell took this “pet project” to Lions Graph to interview in January 2019 and left an impression that landed him an internship, even with only a few months experience.
Bonnell said throughout this internship he learned what data can really mean.
“[Data] brings me into the numbers and it can show anybody that doesn’t really understand it that there is a greater meaning that can be brought out of it and an increased understanding,” he said.
Cochran said with new tools like Tableau Desktop coming out that “makes the work more fun,” now is the time to jump into data analysis
“We open these leading tools from day one and get familiar with them as we learn how analytics is done. This puts our students in a great position,” he said. “They learn the concepts while doing the work. And they can list marketable skills on their resumé from day one.”
Nick Thompson, a business analyst and head of the Lions Graph internship program, said Bonnell is always eager to learn all he can and pushes the boundaries when necessary.
“Quinton’s strongest asset to Lion Graph was his self-starter attitude,” said Thompson. “He took on any project we gave him with enthusiasm. Often he had very little guidelines or instructions on how to accomplish what we gave, but he always took initiative, asked questions, and jumped at any opportunity to learn and grow in his skills.”
Bonnell said it has been great to expand his opportunities for growth in both the classroom and his internship.
“The stuff I learned in Tableau and in the classroom has really applied everything I’ve learned … to be able to do (the job) in the real world,” he said. “Stuff I’ve been learning with my internship has applied to the class and vice versa. It’s been really good both ways in and out of the classroom.”
Thompson sees a bright future for Bonnell in data analytics.
“He learned very quickly how every good data visualization starts with asking the right questions before you can start building meaningful visualizations,” he said. “We believe this internship helped inspire and motivate Quinton to continue a career where he can use data to tell stories and provide deep and meaningful insight for companies.”