Great Young Society II: Preparing Our Youth Today for the Workforce of Tomorrow

Seated: Whitney York, Jesse Chittams, and Cody Griffith; standing: Raul Torres, Ezra Connell, Olek Gierczak, and Mary Miller

Seated: Whitney York, Jesse Chittams, and Cody Griffith; standing: Raul Torres, Ezra Connell, Olek Gierczak, and Mary Miller

One of the most pressing challenges facing our youth today is the lack of knowledge of, and inroads into, some of America’s most promising career opportunities for the 21st century: science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and data science (data management, Big Data, informatics).

Great Young Society II, a 501(c)(3), was formed in 2001 by Jesse Chittams to address this challenge. Its mission is to prepare the youth of today for the workforce of tomorrow. A primary goal is to increase awareness of career opportunities in various STEM professions among students. Specifically, through support from tax-deductible gifts, grants, and donations, the society supports scholarships, workshops, hands-on research experiences, and technical training in data management and statistical consulting.

Society members visit classrooms throughout Philadelphia and the Washington, DC, area and provide career seminars and hands-on training in data science, as well as advice for navigating the college admissions process by providing SAT preparation assistance.

The society’s workforce readiness program provides year-round internship opportunities to undergraduate- and graduate-level students who have a desire to gain marketable experience in statistics, computer programming, data management, informatics, and biomedical research studies. Specifically, it offers students hands-on skills with data collection using REDCap and Qualtrics and data analysis using SAS, SPSS, and STATA.

Much of the success of this initiative can be credited to a collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania, but society leadership hopes to expand to other institutions. After only a few months of training, interns have typically been able to secure permanent positions at institutions such as Eli Lilly, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, contract research organizations, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Recently, the society collaborated with the ASA Committee on Minorities in Statistics to help support their annual JSM Diversity Mentoring Program and StatFest.

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