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How My Master's In Business Analytics Got Me A Job At Microsoft

From a master’s in business analytics to building a successful Microsoft career—find out how one Kogod alum landed her dream tech job


Thu Mar 17 2022

If you’re ambitious about launching a tech career, then you’ll probably have your sights set on one of the big global tech corporations, like Microsoft.

But since Microsoft is likely to have hundreds of applications for many of its roles, how do you stand out in a competitive job market?

For Valorie Hampton, a senior program manager at Microsoft, a Master's in Business Analytics helped her to stand out and build a successful tech career at the firm. 

Joining a master’s in business analytics program in Washington, D.C.

The decision to join a Master's in Business Analytics program came naturally to Valorie. At the time she was working in supply chain within the automotive industry, at Toyota.

“I noticed that I was working with a lot of data, but I really had no idea how to make it more impactful on my daily work,” she says. 

The STEM-designated master’s in analytics program at American University's Kogod School of Business caught Valorie’s attention, as it's a master’s degree that offers both full-time and part-time study options. She chose the part-time format, which involves studying remotely for two years, so that she could fit the degree around her busy career.

The Kogod School of Business is based in Washington, D.C., the thriving political epicenter of the US. Though the master’s in data analytics is studied online, students get a chance to connect in D.C. when they visit campus to participate in networking events and group projects.

Blending management and leadership with data and analytics

For anyone who wants to work in a data-driven role, you’ll quickly learn that your work doesn’t revolve around numbers. You’ll need to brush up on your general business knowledge and leadership skills to be successful.

The Kogod master's in analytics program provides courses in business fundamentals like consulting, finance, and business intelligence, while also equipping students with specialist technical skills in a variety of programming languages such as R, Python, SQL, and the data visualization program Tableau.

“We learned that none of the technical aspect matters if you can’t articulate the business thought or theory to your team and to leadership,” says Valorie.

“Not only are we becoming a more data-driven world, but we need people who can communicate and articulate what to do with that data.”

In the master’s in data analytics program, students can specialize in areas like IT consulting, forensic accounting, or biostatistics.

Data analytics consulting projects

Students in the online master's in analytics program participate in an in-person capstone project that sees teams of people working with a Washington, D.C. based company to solve a data-based problem.

d8008dbca2cda98926013245d186d4b1aa31476a.jpeg “We view these initiatives as consulting engagements, so the students can learn and practice good consulting skills, work collaboratively in teams, and apply the classroom concepts they have learned to real problems, including dealing with dirty data,” says Frank Armour (pictured), assistant professor of information technology at Kogod. 

Students might work with professional sports teams to assess play evaluations or on software process analytics with software development firms.

Valorie worked with the Special Olympics to predict BMI using data collected from worldwide events.

“It was a great experience to work as part of a team to figure out what the different variables are and what variables to eliminate,” she says.


Launching a Microsoft career after an MS in Analytics

After graduating, Valorie wanted to join a data-driven role with a company whose products she regularly uses. That’s when she landed on launching a career with Microsoft.

It was in the interview stage with Microsoft that she discovered the true value of her master’s in analytics degree, she explains.

“When recruiters see that you have that analytics background, and you've invested time and money into a master's degree, the conversations became a whole lot easier,” says Valorie, who works as a senior program manager for the Azure database platform at Microsoft, in Seattle.

"Many big tech firms value someone who is able to understand the detailed business objectives, challenges, and requirements for a successful analytics effort," adds Frank. 

That’s what Valorie is doing in her current role.  She assesses how customers use Microsoft’s cloud products and provides insights to upper management about how to grow the products. 

She says her master’s degree in analytics has been invaluable to kickstarting her Microsoft career. 

“I learned that what matters is my ability to get in front of my audience and articulate the next steps, providing data-focused recommendations,” she concludes.

Student Reviews

Kogod School of Business - American University




On Campus

Clean and well maintained campus

I am completely enamored with this school. The entire student body is driven, inclusive, and highly intelligent. The decision to attend American University is not made haphazardly. Its close proximity to Washington DC, making it one of the most strategically located schools after Georgetown, means it's just a short train ride away. The campus is well-maintained, with mostly attractive buildings, although there are a few that are less appealing. Additionally, there are numerous excellent food options available. The wide range of clubs and organizations to join is remarkable. It is undeniably a school filled with immense passion.




On Campus

City life

I’m having a wonderful time at American University. I love that I can get to a big city and still feel like a traditional campus. Sincerely, it is a school that may require some adjusting to, but in the end, it is a very good school with numerous opportunities for its students. The atmosphere in AU is so great that it pushes you in a positive way and offers every opportunity you could want.




On Campus

Amazing helpful professors

American College is an incredible school with astounding teachers. Best professors I could have asked for at an amazing school. My opinion is that American University's professors are its greatest asset. They are extremely intelligent and always eager to assist their students. They go above and beyond in their classes to make sure that their students do their best.




On Campus

AU Review

The workload is quite high and AU is definitely not an "easy" school. Students take their studies very seriously and can almost always find a group in the library, DAV, Starbucks or MGC. Courses can be quite ambitious if the right courses are offered and the admissions process can be confusing at times, but with the help of an advisor it is quite easy to navigate. The library can be crowded, and while it's not huge, there are plenty of other places to study on campus. The professors really want to help during office hours and interact with students. I've had good experiences with the professors and workload at AU, but it's an expensive city.




On Campus

Majoring in Political and International Relations

The instructors are unique and the classes can be boring at times. Check-in is stressful (but it is everywhere). The workload is what I expected. The most popular majors are international relations and political science




On Campus

I Love Being A Musical Theater Major

I love being a musical theater student, if you want to help behind the scenes, if you want to be an assistant director, if you want to be a director, if you want to write, you can do anything at this academy, very supportive, it's amazing, they are always there to help you. This is their working time. Even after the audition tells you what you did wrong, you can do better, or if you get picked, you know why they picked you, which is great




On Campus

AU's Business Model

Overall, there were a lot of good opportunities at UA, both in terms of course range and faculty. However, I had a few complete misfires. People who shouldn't have taught at all. Like all universities, AU's business model is to hire hands-on assistants so they don't have to pay them extra or perform well. They are signed and if that does not work, they are not hired any more. The problem with this is that you end up with people who are unqualified and bring their own agendas, biases that may or may not be based on research. Most of the professors were absolutely fantastic.




On Campus

AU - The Real Problem With Academics

Some teachers are amazing, some awful - typical of any school. But the real problem with AU is that many students don't care about academics as much as other things (eg, partying). The academics are really interrupted by the Greek life and the social life of the students. This makes it difficult for students interested in academics to get the most out of their school experience. Some students do not take classes seriously and do not respect teachers and other students. Courses and opportunities at UA are perfect for people who want to take advantage




On Campus

American University - The Best Place to Study

They know their stuff - I chose American University because the campus is beautiful and the biology program is relatively small. But after the first semester, I realized that all the professors, especially the people in the science department, are experts in their field. They are enthusiastic and helpful in lecturing; even the TAs who teach the labs are amazing and engaging.




On Campus

Engaging Students and Incredible Professors

I would 100% recommend this school. I am a Marine Corps Veteran and proud AU alum. NI received my BA in Comparative Politics at AU in 2017. It was engaging and worth every minute. I was constantly engaged with the material the material and was fascinated by the culture the school presented. As an older student I was nervous to go to a highly competitive college but with the culture of both student and staff it was enjoyable through and through.