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Freedom to explore interests leads to a dream job for triple alumnus

by Jennifer Johnson,

Scott Richter

Scott Richter BA/MBA ’20, MSDS ’21 has been a gamer his entire life. After landing a job at Activision one year after he graduated, he said the achievement wouldn’t have been possible without Willamette University. 

“There’s no chance I would have gone down the same path and had the same opportunities if I went to a non-liberal arts school, or any school that wasn’t Willamette,” he said. “There’s much less friction to pursue what you’re interested in here.” 

And Richter pursued everything he could. He packed his academic career with several degrees  — a BA/MBA with an economics major, minors in environmental science and Chinese (a language he’d spoken since age 13), a masters of science in data science — and a life on campus filled with football, clubs and activities. Richter loved being able to explore several fields and discover his talents, he said. 

“My entire time at Willamette was a matter of me narrowing down what I enjoy and what I’m good at, then deciding to focus on that,” he said. “I had no idea I’d be a data scientist when I enrolled.” 

The BA/MBA paired Richter’s interest in quantitative research and marketing to help gauge customer needs and behavior using advanced statistical techniques. Earning the MBA, in particular, offered him the most opportunities and rapid growth. From this experience, Richter realized his passion for data science, which led him to be selected out of 80,000 others for an intensive Python coding course at Stanford University in the final semester of his dual degree. 

That experience also laid a strong foundation for Willamette’s master of science, where a SQL-heavy data engineering class with Associate Professor of Data Science and Marketing Jake Hoskins — and networking through Executive Director and Chair of Computing and Data Science Programs Jameson Watts — opened doors for him after he graduated.   

Richter’s first job was at Portland-based SkyPoint Cloud, a customer data platform for consumer brands formerly known as CSG Pro. As an analytics consultant for SkyPoint’s professional services arm, he performed advanced analytics for clients in a breadth of industries as the company ventured into data science.  

After building consulting experience, he searched for teams where he could learn alongside established data scientists and hone his skills. He decided to pause his career and work as a freelancer. Activision was one of the first jobs he applied to during this break, and he was thrilled he got the job, he said. 

Now he conducts A/B testing to understand user behavior in the Call of Duty mobile game and uses Python, R, SQL — and his Chinese — on a daily basis. Eventually he wants to become a senior data scientist and lead his own team, but for now he’s incredibly happy. He found a job that fits his interests and talent, he said. 

“Data science is perfect for my love for research,” he said. “In another life, I would have gone into academia, but there’s so much to learn and so much to research in data science. It feeds my intellectual curiosity.” 

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