Alumni Stories

Jessica Bagtas

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Name: Jessica Bagtas ‘15
Major: Geography Minor: International and Global Studies
Current Job Title: Associate Project Manager of Strategic Analytics
Employer: IQVIA The Human Data Science Company (formerly QuintilesIMS Health)

Tell us a bit about your life and career since graduation. How did you get your first job? How did you navigate to where you are now? Where do you live?
I started working at my current job shortly after graduation. I was a part-time research assistant to one of my Geography professors the summer after graduation,

and throughout the summer my professor and I talked about my career aspirations. When the research assistantship was coming to a close, a Rutgers Geography alumna emailed the Department of Geography saying her company was looking for a full-time junior analyst with geography/mapping experience. Since my professor knew that I was actively looking for full-time employment, he let me know about the opportunity. I applied and got the job! I moved to Parsippany, NJ where the company is based. I still live and work there today.

Why did you choose your major and minor?
I was originally a pre-med health sciences major, but when I was looking for SAS requirements to take at my local community college, I thought it would be fun to take their Cultural Geography course. It ended up being the most interesting college class I’d taken at that point and it made me consider a pursuing a social science degree instead. Geography was perfect for me because it combined the human aspects of a social science with the analytical and technical aspects of a hard science. It’s the kind of major where you learn about the economic geography of Africa in one class, and then learn how to interpret satellite imagery to understand hurricanes in the next class. It’s a very broad and interdisciplinary major.

How would you describe your greatest personal or professional accomplishment since graduating from Rutgers?
My greatest professional accomplishment has been staying employed in a job relevant to my degree since day 1 after graduation. A Geography professor offered me a part-time research assistant job for the summer after graduation. Then that Fall, I got the full-time job I have today.
My greatest personal accomplishment was helping my parents finance their new home. When my mom was concerned her credit wouldn't be approved for a mortgage, she suggested we apply for one together as co-owners, because I’ve always been responsible with my credit and finances. I can proudly say I became a homeowner just a year after graduation!

What advice can you offer to School of Arts and Sciences undergraduates about how to successfully connect their education in arts and sciences to their lives and careers after college?
My advice is start finding the connection between your curriculum and real-life applications now. This can be through an internship, externship, or volunteer opportunity. Personally, I took a few classes that partnered with Rutgers CESEP (Civic Engagement and Service Education Partnerships). The CESEP program pairs a non-profit in the Rutgers-area with a student who is taking a class that teaches a skill the non-profit actually needs. For example, a non-profit might need help with writing a grant proposal, and a student who is taking the Grant Writing course partners with them to write one. I ended up partnering with CESEP for 2 of my Geographic Information Systems (GIS) courses when a few non-profits needed help with map analytics. It was a great way to take what I was learning in class and apply it to real life right away. I would definitely recommend the CESEP program to anyone who wants to see how their classes can be applied in real-life situations