By Jeffrey Mark Gonzalez, Mathematical Statistician, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Who inspired you to be a statistician?
When I was an undergraduate at The University of North Carolina, I began working at the university’s Survey Research Unit. At the time, my primary responsibility was to enter data from various surveys; however, my boss, Ashley Bowers, began teaching me about surveys. It was because of her enthusiasm for and breadth of knowledge about surveys that I really became fascinated with survey statistics. She took a keen interest in my professional development and was instrumental in my decision to pursue statistics and, in particular, survey statistics at the graduate level. So, I owe a lot to her with respect to my current educational pursuits and career as a statistician.
What is the hardest thing about being a statistician?
The hardest thing about being a statistician is keeping in mind that, at the end of the day, we need to be able to convey a message to the public and our data users. I think that, as statisticians, we can tend to get caught up in our numbers and formulas, but we should really make an effort to remember others will use our information for a variety of purposes, some of which we haven’t anticipated. Therefore, it is essential that we provide enough information to make the statistical information transparent, useful, and informative.
What is the best career advice you were ever given?
It may sound cliché, but the best career advice I have ever been given is to love what you do and do what you love. I have been fortunate to find a career that I truly enjoy and am passionate about.
Would you recommend statistics as a profession to a student?
Most definitely, I would recommend statistics as a profession to a student. I think what students might fail to realize is that statistics is such a diverse field and has applications in many fields (e.g., public health, economics, surveys, etc.). I doubt the need for statisticians will ever go away.