When I was a senior in high school, I decided on a whim to take statistics—partly because I just enjoyed math, but mostly because I simply wanted to get better at the probability problems I’d had some trouble with when I took the SAT. A few months into the class, I discovered that I was really interested in everything about it. I realized that what was dry and confusing to a lot of people was super fascinating to me, and I just wanted to learn more—there seemed to be so much more to the surface-level concepts we were going over, and I knew then that it was something that I had to dive deeper into.

So as I was applying to colleges around that time, knowing I wanted to pursue something in STEM, I browsed Viterbi’s admissions pages, and found Industrial and Systems Engineering! I had never even heard of this field, and a lot of the other schools that I was looking at didn’t even offer it, so I looked more deeply into USC’s offerings and knew it was the major for me. ISE combined engineering and statistics in a way that I didn’t even realize I was looking for, but just sounded so cool to me. And at the same time, I could tell that it was a broad field of study that I could use to go down a number of paths. So… I applied!

Now, having advanced two years into my degree in ISE, the time has come to narrow my focus a bit more, and I’ve settled into data analytics as the career path I wish to follow. With my Information Systems focus, and looking forward to doing the Progressive Degree Program for a Master’s in Data Science, I still look forward to having a bunch of options as far as which industry I enter, while being very technically specialized. Exciting stuff!

This summer, I look forward to interning with Apple in their Information Systems and Technology department, where I’ll be doing exactly the work I’ve wanted to do for the last few years. I never would’ve guessed that my random (haha, stats joke) decision to take statistics in high school would lead me down this path, but I couldn’t be happier.

Derek Jones

Derek Jones

MAJOR: Industrial and Systems Engineering YEAR: Class of 2022 HOMETOWN: Los Gatos, CA PRONOUNS: he/him/his INSTA: @dmannjones On campus I have conducted environmental engineering research on water distillation methods, and you can currently find me serving as Vice President of my social fraternity and playing on the club volleyball team.