Rebecca Lally, IE 2015, has combined her love of math and sports to create a career where her passions intersect. And her passions fully melded when she landed a coveted internship with ESPN’s Stats & Analysis department the summer before her senior year of college.
Lally’s computer science knowledge, analytical mindset, and her attention to detail at both ISyE and ESPN are some of the keys to her success. Before graduating, she was offered and accepted a position with the St. Louis Rams in Football Information Systems. And she is already thinking about what she wants to be doing five years from now.
“In five years I would like to be innovating new ways to approach data in order to impact multiple departments within the front office. I have entered the sports world in the beginning stages of the big data movement, so in the next years I want to help change the way the game of football is analyzed and contribute to the foundation of how players are recruited.”
This is a career that will be best viewed from the 50 yard line.
You completed a dream internship this past summer, and now will begin working for the NFL. How does that feel?
I worked really hard throughout my college career, and even in high school, to achieve my dream of working in sports. The internship with ESPN Stats & Info was an incredible experience that helped focus my career goals even further. Although I loved my time at ESPN, I knew the front office of a team was more aligned with where I wanted my career to go. That was my ultimate goal, but I never thought I would be so fortunate to begin my professional career with the St. Louis Rams. The trust and responsibilities the Rams have already given me confirmed that I am in the right place. They are excited to have me, and I am even more excited to be here. I actually spent my third week of work in Seattle for a Sports Science Conference so I am embracing the opportunities I have to travel and continue learning new things. It has been everything I hoped it would be and more. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
What will a typical day look like for you?
My primary role is analyzing data on the football players. A typical day consists of fitting regression models to data, looking for trends, determining how to predict future performance and using software to visually analyze the data. All of this work is done as a collaborative effort with colleagues in different departments, such as scouting and strength conditioning, in order to assess their data analysis needs, improve the organization as a whole, and gain a competitive advantage.
How did ISyE prepare you for this new chapter in your life?
ISyE’s curriculum of statistical programs like R and Minitab, as well as cross-disciplinary computer science classes with Python programming and SQL for databases are directly applicable in data analysis in the real world. In addition, the analytical thinking, ability to solve problems, and recognition of patterns in data are all keys to success. Lastly, I am thankful for senior design and the industry experience we gained from it. I improved my ability to work well on a team, problem solve, and meet deadlines. The impact that we were able to make was evident and motivating as I have begun my career.
How will you apply your IE skills to your work in sports?
R and SQL will be used in my daily work. My job will require creativity daily in order to find new avenues to analyze. I also will have to look at data through an unbiased lens, and use my IE statistical knowledge to validate any findings by finding relevance and significance of models and trends. In addition, my job will require the attention to detail that was required for success as an IE student and basic time management skills.
How do you define success?
To me, individual success is defined by happiness. That happiness comes from my well-being, but also other sources such as my ability to make a direct impact and add value to the organization. For the team, success is observing how our analysis manifests itself in the way we play but also in winning games. The end goal is to win championships and get that ring.
What is one thing about you, that you are willing to share, that does not show up on your resume?
I hope that my experiences will inspire others to follow their dreams. One day I would like to be able to speak with young women in high schools or colleges in order to encourage them to find their gift and pursue a career where they can use that gift to make a difference.