A Day in the Life: Data Services and Outreach Coordinator

Hello all!  My name is Rebecca Erickson and I am the newest recruit to the Center for Small Towns (CST) team. I was brought on back in May 2013 after I graduated from UMM with majors in Biology and Statistics. I was hired to fill an experimental position called the “Data Services and Outreach Coordinator” which was designed to facilitate undergraduate involvement in statistics projects in both CST and the Truckers and Turnover Project, working in each office half-time.

What does the Data Services and Outreach Coordinator actually do, you ask? My role is to facilitate one of Center for Small Towns’ core methodologies: Data Analysis and Research. As such, the community-based projects I organize and carry out all have some sort of statistical component, whether it is designing and analyzing surveys, gathering data from existing sources, creating models, or just presenting data so it is easier to understand.

Like most of CST’s projects, mine typically originate to meet a need of our community partners, and can be brought to us either through conversations in the field or through our Connecting Students and Communities Application. Once a need is defined, I’ll work with the partner to determine if the questions they want answered can be done so statistically. If not, my phenomenal co-workers, take over; if so, I then work my magic.

And to be perfectly fair, most of the magic is that of my team of talented students. I work with these folks — most of whom have Statistics majors or minors — to plan out and execute the necessary steps for each project.
This semester I am working with eight wonderful students, each of which has taught me something about how to be a better coordinator (and person!). As much as I will be sad to see three of them graduate, I am looking forward to the next generation of my ever-growing data crew.

Before I sign off, it’s time for a shameless plug: if you know of a data-related project that you’d like to work with CST on, please contact us! Feel free to email me at rmeric@morris.umn.edu or call the office at 320-589-6451.

Thanks for reading about a day in my life!

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