Meet Olivia

Hi! I am Olivia! I attended Ball State from August 2014-May 2018, where I first declared a major in English-rhetoric and writing and later chose a minor in sociology, which later became a double major. My favorite sociology courses were social inequality, sociology of families and research methods (although I enjoyed all of them). While at Ball State I was a member of Sigma Kappa, was a tutor at the Writing Center, and part of the Honors College. My honors thesis, which I worked on with Dr. Richard Petts, focused on the sociopolitical leanings of students in different college majors. I was born and raised in Indianapolis, IN and that is where I live today!

Tell us about your current job. Day-to-day? Any long-term projects?

My title is Data and Reporting Specialist at the National FFA Organization. The National FFA (formerly known as the Future Farmers of America) is a school-based youth leadership organization which teaches students leadership and career preparation through the lens of agriculture and agricultural education. I sit on the evaluation team and my teammates and I write and distribute surveys in Qualtrics, write survey reports, and I specifically help to interpret data to create “one-pagers” on different programs and events to display impact/survey data in a way that the average person can understand. I also collaborate with foundation staff to help display impact data to sponsors and donors.

Describe your career path. How did you get where you are?

I accepted my job at the National FFA Organization in April of 2018 and began about one week after graduation. My initial role was entry-level, and one year into my employment the organization added my current position (a new position) to the team. I applied to be promoted to that position and got it. I have been at National FFA for 3.5 years and in my current role for 2.5 years.

How have you grown and learned in the successive roles that lead you to your current position?

My job in the writing center at Ball State helped me work well with others and have great customer service and professionalism.

What is the most fulling part of your job?

I really enjoy when others tell me that they have used my report to help show off the impact of their programs to secure more funding or when they take it upon themselves to share out my report to other stakeholders.

I put a lot of work into them and so this always feels good. It also keeps those who aren’t as data-minded to see the importance of evaluation and collecting survey feedback to keep programs moving forward.

What are the most valuable skills you learned as a Ball State College of Sciences and Humanities student? How have they helped you?

As far as soft skills, I definitely think the most valuable skills I learned were writing, editing, communication, professionalism, and interpreting data.

I use all of these every day in my job. I also use Qualtrics and Canva frequently in my job, both of which I use first as a student at Ball State in the College of Sciences and Humanities.

Were there any professors, classes, or professional opportunities that had particularly significant impacts on you?

Sociological Research Methods definitely impacted what I have ended up doing post-graduation. I learned the basics of writing survey questions and setting up a good study. People often ask me how I got a job working with data with my majors, and I tell them it was because of my research methods and statistics courses I took through the department of sociology.

As far as professors, I have many I need to credit all for different reasons: Dr. Petts, Dr. Messineo, Dr. Menning, Dr. Holtzman and Dr. Collas all taught wonderful courses and helped me develop a sociological imagination which I use at work and in life with my interest in social issues/social justice.

I was also able to talk about the sociology capstone working with Second Harvest in my job interview to show I have worked with large data sets. That helped immensely in getting hired.

What advice do you have for current or future English or Sociology students who may hope to follow your career path?

I would say to always include experiences you have from classes, on-campus jobs, and capstones as “work experience” when looking for a job because ultimately, that’s what it is. Specifically for my career path, I would say to remember that interpreting data is a special skill that not everyone has, even though often as sociology students it seems to come naturally to us.

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