How Caleb Adams '19 Used a Business Analytics Degree to Land Job at Qualcomm

Friday, October 16, 2020TOPICS: AlumniSpotlights

Caleb Adams, an alumnus of the University of San Diego School of BusinessCaleb Adams '19 works with his classmates on a business analytics consulting project in Madrid, Spain.
begin quoteI cannot praise my career advisors enough. The team just absolutely blew me out of the water with how much support they gave. They were reviewing our resumes and finding out about our career interests before we even started classes.

When Caleb Adams graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting, he was overwhelmed by the world of job opportunities before him — and disappointed by how little interest he had in the jobs available to him. To fill his time, he began working at a winery in a position that introduced him to inventory and supply chain management.

Getting pointed in the right direction

Frustrated by a hesitant start to his career, he did what many do when seeking better job opportunities. He started looking for an MBA program to become a stronger candidate for the jobs that he wanted. A professor at his undergraduate alma mater pointed him in the direction of the University of San Diego School of Business, where they had formerly been a student.

Once Caleb applied to USD’s MBA program, the graduate admissions team informed him that he didn’t have the required two years of work experience to be eligible for the program. He was disappointed, but only for a moment. The graduate admissions team continued to get to know Caleb and find out about his specific career goals.

Finding a passion for data

“In terms of my ideal job, I focus less on a specific industry or on a specific role, but more on the idea of problem solving,” says Caleb. “That’s the one thing that’s always really interested me. Getting handed a mess and figuring it out.”

With an academic background heavily based on numbers and an avid interest in making sense of a lot of information, the graduate admissions team advised Caleb that he’d be a great candidate for the Master of Science in Business Analytics

“I'd previously taken a few computer science classes and had done some programming work,” says Caleb. “As I read more about the business analytics graduate degree program, I got really, really intrigued and thought, ‘this could actually be something I really enjoy doing.’ USD’s master’s in business analytics was the only data analytics-focused program I applied to. I got into the program and accepted my spot because it sounded like the best fit for what I really wanted to do.” 

A graduate degree in business analytics

In just one year, the Master of Science of Business Analytics at the USD School of Business equips students with both the tools and critical thinking skills needed to excel in any role that requires a mastery of data analytics.

“A really important lesson I learned from the program was how to approach a problem from different angles,” says Caleb. “For example, when we worked on consulting projects with local companies, we often reached a point where there just wasn't the information we needed to complete our task. So we had to figure out a way around the problem —  either get that information a different way or, more likely, find a way to complete the task at hand without needing the missing information.”

Mastering the tools of data analytics

During the program, business analytics graduate students complete three professional consulting projects including one while on a short-term study abroad trip during intersession. To prepare for these projects, students are trained to use multiple software programs that are essential to compile and interpret data. 

“We learn Python, SQL, Tableau and others,” says Caleb. “In my current job at Qualcomm, I use Python nearly every day. I use it to automate or simplify information, which makes me a much more efficient analyst.”

Learning to master analytics software can be challenging. They are sophisticated programs that require time and patience to learn how to navigate. But professors at the USD School of Business have a nuanced approach to teaching students with little to no programming experience how to effectively use Python, SQL, and more. 

“Professor Johan Perols taught my Python classes. I've taken programming classes before but the way he taught them was very interesting,” says Caleb. “It was taught in a lab environment rather than a lecture-based format, which I really enjoyed. And I really liked how much the class synergized with our projects. We were doing our consulting projects at the same time we took this class, so as we learned new skills, we were able to apply them to those projects right away.”

Career mentorship

In just one year’s time, not only do business analytics students become career-ready but they also receive personalized support to help pursue their career goals. The Graduate Career Services team at the USD School of Business is a dedicated resource for graduate students and they’ve been known to make a lasting impression.

“I cannot praise my career advisors enough. The team just absolutely blew me out of the water with how much support they gave,” says Caleb. “They were reviewing our resumes and finding out about our career interests before we even started classes. I had hours and hours of conversations with my career advisor, Greg Lewis. He helped me figure out exactly what I wanted in a career and recommended jobs I had never even considered but were actually a good fit for me. I got my job as a supply chain analyst at Qualcomm as a direct result of their support.”

Telling a story with data

With their assistance and neverending encouragement, Caleb landed his job in mid-April, just one month after the coronavirus pandemic began in the U.S. Now six months into his role at Qualcomm, Caleb is confidently navigating the learning curve period. He’s even prepared for his role in ways he didn’t expect.

“You need to be able to explain what you’re doing, what the goals are, and why. And then you need to tell a story about how you interpreted the data,” says Caleb. “Telling a story with data is something that cropped up a lot in the business analytics program as well as how to get buy-in for your idea, which has really come in handy.”

At this time last year, Caleb was a new, bright-eyed graduate student at the USD School of Business eager to begin a fulfilling career. In just one year, he mastered business analytics, defined his career goals, faced a pandemic and is now thriving at one of the world’s leading innovators in the wireless tech industry. How is he feeling about his new career path?

“The big thing for me is always problem solving. I feel like, more than anything else, the business analytics program enabled me to dive deep into problem solving as a professional career. And that’s something I’m really excited about.”


— Gabrielle Horta


Vicky Torres
(619) 260-4860