Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Student Spotlight: Karly Jerman

Main content start
Photo of Karly Jerman

May 20, 2018

Meet Karly Jerman (MS '18), MS&E graduating Master's student.

Karly will begin her career as a Fintech Data Scientist at Vanguard. Vanguard was a clear choice for Karly, providing her with an intriguing mix of data science and entrepreneurial thinking.

"It felt good to do research that was going to be immediately used... and was doubly satisfying because it was already applying my training to solve a problem by using data."

Why did you choose Stanford MS&E?

I graduated in Industrial & Systems Engineering from the University of San Diego and wanted further my knowledge about operations research, math, and business. When researching graduate schools, I saw Stanford's MS&E program and thought that all of the concentrations sounded really innovative and that the program was a unique combination of all of my interests. It also was a broad program where I could decide what I wanted to focus on once I took a few classes. After looking into the classes offered, it became obvious I should attend, because I wanted to take all of them! I really liked that the department combines math, management, computer science, and business in a single program and thought it would be a great Master's program to prepare me for my future career path.

How did you become interested in your research area?

My concentration is Computational Social Science. The program description page piqued my interest, so I decided to take Introduction to Computational Social Science with Sharad Goel during my first quarter, and I loved it! I really enjoyed using math and programming on applied problems, where I had to extensively think about the results that I was getting and what they meant. One week I was learning about the Python programming language and the next week I was using it for Map Reduce on Amazon's AWS service, which was a lot of fun to apply what I used immediately to a project. I also did research at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital to make the process of bumping a scheduled patient when emergency cases arrive more efficient. I was interested in that research project because it was an interesting combination of creating a tool and a scoring algorithm that had to be easily explained, transparent, and fair to the hospital staff while also automatically working when they inputted the data. It felt good to do research that was going to be immediately used in the hospital, and was doubly satisfying because it was already applying my training to solve a problem by using data. They started using the tool as soon as I finished it and have been using it for around a year now, making me feel like I chose a concentration and research area that will be impactful in my future endeavors.

What are your career plans and how did you decide on them?

I am starting as a Fintech Data Scientist at Vanguard. I decided to become a data scientist after taking the Data Challenge Lab with Bill Behrman. In this class, I learned an incredible amount about Data Science and visualization, solidifying my interest in the field. During a talk over lunch for that class, I met some of my future coworkers when they told my class about what data scientists at Vanguard have been doing. The team was clearly a great group of people, the job sounded like an intriguing mix of data science and entrepreneurial thinking, and it was clear that the team and company would help me continuously learn. Something important to me was that at Vanguard there are a lot of experienced individuals who I can learn from as well as newer individuals who I can learn together with. The great team and position combined with my interest and experiences from the classes I took really solidified the decision for me and I am very excited to start!

What advice do you have for students?

For prospective students, do not overthink the decision and just come to Stanford's MS&E program. Even if you are not funded, you will not regret the decision to come to Stanford. Being surrounded by intelligent people from very differing backgrounds will make you quickly learn so much about things you do not know now and it is truly an amazing experience. I am sad that my time learning at Stanford is now over and have never once regretted my decision to come.

For current students, just say yes to as many things as you can. Go to a talk about something you know nothing about, or go to an event outside of your comfort zone. Maybe sit and have a conversation with a student looking like they are having a bad day on campus. The connections and experiences you have during this program really are one of a kind and you don't want to miss any of them. Also, don't stress as much about school work and grades, you will learn and you will do well, just focus on enjoying it.

What other activities are you involved with on and off campus?

On campus I try to go to many of the MS&E events, both social and career or education oriented. I also was involved in many of the events that the Rains Graduate Housing complex hosted for graduate students. Most of all though, I love outdoor activities and try to be outside as much as possible! Whether that is playing volleyball, hiking, camping, skiing or other activities, that is what I am usually doing during my free time. This includes expeditions such as backpacking Half Dome or skiing in Tahoe, but more often includes the small moments on the grassy mounds in the Engineering Quad on a sunny day.

What would you tell your freshman self?

Make sure to study abroad. Semester at Sea was life-changing and I would want to ensure I did that program again. It was a study abroad program where I visited 14 different countries in a semester, learning about the culture and way of life in each place. It showed me that there was a lot more outside of what I had experienced in the US which is an experience I could not have gotten from a classroom. Additionally, make sure to get out and meet friends that like to do similar activities to you, and do not be afraid to join clubs that you know no one in. Lastly, approach professors and staff and create good relationships with them. They love to help you and you will appreciate their help!

Student stories & voices