Ali Rossi

Data Scientist, Foursquare

BS 2007

Brückner Group

If you keep pursuing whatever feels interesting and exciting, you can start to narrow down to find your niche, while becoming a well-rounded person.

Additional degrees & licenses received

Current student – M.S. Computer Science at Georgia Tech (expected graduation December 2024)

What is your current (or most recent) job, what does a typical day look like, and how did UConn prepare you for this role?

I’m currently a data scientist at Foursquare, a location technology company. I work with our first-party foot traffic panel comprising millions of devices to deliver insights against a broad range of client business questions. On a typical day, I spend the majority of my time working on research projects to improve our methodologies, which could include assessing new projection factors, or developing new analysis techniques to use with clients. I also work on delivering insights projects for specific clients, sales enablement materials, and publications. While most of my time is spent heads-down coding in Python, I do tend to have a few meetings per day, whether with a client to help them understand our methodology; our stakeholders to discuss projects and new opportunities; analysts on our team to advise on projects; or with the Foursquare Technical Women employee resource group I co-lead.

Tell us about your experience as a Chemistry student at UConn.

I chose Chemistry as a major during freshman year because I enjoyed General Chem, and was looking for a scientific field where I could use math. Probably also because the Chem building was new and beautiful and had the Chem Cafe! There were few Chem majors, so we were a closely knit group and you could always find classmates hanging out at the Chem Cafe.

I worked in Dr. Brückner’s lab, focused on porphyrin synthesis. Although I ultimately did not pursue Chemistry as a career and instead leaned into my Math minor, I have so many great memories from working with Dr. Brückner and team! I can still draw the molecule I worked on, and look back fondly on the fun times we had in the lab (I swear I never played with the liquid nitrogen…).

I also loved PChem with Dr. Birge – it’s where I realized perhaps I was better at math & physics than Chemistry specifically. However, I think my most special memory is taking class with the late Dr. Tanaka. He was so kind and so enthusiastic, and one day in the lab we got to try out glass blowing to forge a sealed container for a compound we had synthesized. Dr. Tanaka then proceeded to give us all glass swans that he had hand crafted. I was so upset when my swan broke years later in a move!

Can you tell us about your experience post-graduation?

After graduation, I wasn’t sure what to do. I started to work retail jobs in order to save money to move to London on a six-month work visa. After working some nightlife jobs, I ended up as a temporary marketing assistant at a heritage British fragrance firm. Once I returned to the U.S., I found a job in marketing, but eventually moved to market research after a friend recommended that the field seemed perfect for me.

I spent seven years at Nielsen, including roles as a client services analyst for a consumer-packaged goods client, an interim client relationship manager based in Paris for six months, and a product manager on a consumer-sourced data product. I then moved to Audible to try out working as a consumer apps product manager, but my love for data brought me to Foursquare, a location technology platform. I started there as an Analytics product manager, but in the meantime had been developing an interest in data science, taking some courses and working on side projects. Two and a half years ago, Foursquare gave me the opportunity to move into a data science role, and since then I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been in my career!

What is one piece of advice that you would give to current students?

Don’t feel like you need to plan your future too early on. Give yourself time to explore new opportunities in search of what you’re truly passionate about. If you keep pursuing whatever feels interesting and exciting, you can start to narrow down to find your niche, while becoming a well-rounded person.

Ali Rossi
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