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For business analytics student Christopher Velicky, an externship with a multinational data analytics company and networking with professional business analysts offered a chance to “visualize options ‘post graduation.’” Velicky, a junior, and other students in Professor Sal Ferraro’s business analytics capstone course had the experience of working with CGI, a consultancy hired by the Trenton Parking Authority (TPA) to examine its data last fall.    

The goal of the project was to help the parking authority evaluate current revenue streams by researching garage use before, during, and after COVID. 

Alex Geddes, an accounting and financial economics major with a supply chain minor, was part of the student team. The project was not a simple one, he said. Unlike corporate business and Fortune 500 companies, the parking authority did not have the latest data technology, but that challenge made the project real-world and even more worthwhile. Prior to the externship, Geddes had never thought of himself as a tech person but was pleasantly surprised by the opportunity.  It “opened the door,” he said, and now he knows that his career will include proficiency with data analytics too. 

The pinnacle of the project for Velicky, Geddes and the other students was presenting their findings–professionally packaged as data analysts do–to CGI and the client. “We felt we really crushed the project,”  said Velicky of the project. “I was very nervous,” said Geddes, who worked on making the dashboard to meet the client’s needs, “but ended up being very happy with the result.”

The students were grateful to CGI employees for their mentorship, including Michael Fanelli, “a brilliant communicator,” who gave the students invaluable information for their presentations. “This included business decorum when presenting,” said Velicky, who transferred into the business analytics program this past fall.    

Ferraro said CGI was pleased that the students were continuing the relationship in the spring semester with further analysis in his capstone for business analytics class. It was a team effort.  A few students had the chance to present, but the work of the students on the “back end” was just as important, said Ferraro. “All the students were able to find their niche,” and each student had equal input. “It was a real-life experience in the tech world,” said Ferraro.  

Virginia Rich, associate dean in the School of Business and Computer Science, said the  experiential learning allows students to see what it’s like to work with real data for an actual client and use their expertise to help inform the report. “CGI International is following its tradition of promoting education and encouraging students to find careers in business analytics.” 

Velicky has found a passion for the business analytics field, and he is looking forward to future projects. “This was a great opportunity that allowed us to get our hands on real data with real consequences in my first semester of being a business analytics major. One could not ask for a better project at a better time.”

He is also grateful that Caldwell University offers several opportunities to learn coding languages and database skills, such as the Data Camp course made possible by a grant from Pfizer through which he has learned modern data programs such as Power BI and Tableau. “The Caldwell program offers a variety of technology to get us ready to go. They are always looking for the newest thing to help students.”  

Pictured aboveBusiness Analytics students worked with CGI, a consultancy hired by the Trenton Parking Authority, to examine its data.