I recently caught up with Prasanna Kulkarni, analytics connoisseur and 2016 alumnus of the MS in Information Management program who’s making the most of his post-grad life in sunny southern California. Prasanna was happy to reflect on his iSchool experience and offer insight for curious students looking to follow a similar career path as himself.
Life at Blizzard Entertainment
Prasanna Kulkarni currently serves as an associate web analyst for video game publisher Blizzard Entertainment, in Irvine, CA. At Blizzard, he works with the user experience team to find insights from data to improve the overall experience for website visitors. “This involves working with web data, data visualization, and other data-related things that the iSchool is known for,” Prasanna explains. The community is one of his favorite aspects of Blizzard, since he gets to hang out with different people, all who have different interests.
When looking back at his graduate studies, Prasanna recalls many distinguishing moments. His most memorable one was creating a poster with Professor Barbara Stripling for an information policy to be presented to Congress, seeing as he “would never do something like that ever again.”
Because he wanted to learn how to make a mobile app, he took it upon himself to enroll in a mobile application development class, in which he was tasked with creating a handmade mobile app. Alongside fellow iSchool alumnus Billy Ceskavich, Prasanna created “Docket,” an app geared towards SU newcomers. “If someone was new to the SU area, it would allow them to know what the different buildings are, what to get done there, different food places, and different events happening on campus,” he described.
Additionally, he fondly remembers his data analytics classes, as well the chance to work on UX experiments in class during a human interaction class.
Working in the NEXIS lab was an integral part of of Prasanna’s iSchool experience. He recognizes that without the help of his peers in NEXIS, both iSchool and non-iSchool majors, he wouldn’t have been afforded the opportunity to develop mobile applications in his spare time, including apps for both Google Glass and Oculus VR.
Another unforgettable part of Prasanna’s path to success was working with the iSchool’s digital strategy director, Michael Clarke, and the web team at the iSchool. His role consisted of finding insights from people who visit the iSchool website, conducting experiments, and helping to improve the site through recommendations at the conclusion of the internship. “It was very cutting edge. Michael let me do my own thing; it was great being so independent with a lot of responsibility.” He highlighted that this experience improved his resume and in turn, helped him get a job after graduation.
During his studies, the graduate student also completed an internship at Madison Square Garden, where he was able to learn about how the implementation of beacon technology works with professional sports teams. “All of these things together did prepare me for life after graduation,” Prasanna commented on the combination of his iSchool opportunities inside and outside the classroom.
East Coast to West Coast
Participating in the iSchool’s Spring Break in Silicon Valley trip (SBinSV) was a key moment in Prasanna’s professional career. He says that before going there, his career prospective was not yet identified, but after returning from the trip he could more clearly see himself in a variety of roles.
“You visit so many start-up companies, and talk to so many people, that you know what’s the latest in the industry. You can go talk to someone from your own career path that you want to pursue to hear about the latest tools and how they’re using them or what benefits they’re bringing,” he says.
After studying on the east coast for two years, Prasanna was excited to start a new chapter of his life in California. He’s happy with the move, although he describes it as a “give and take” since he misses the the fall colors and trees in Syracuse!
Words of Wisdom
When I asked Prasanna if he had any advice for current iSchoolers, he emphasized to “do as many things as you can during the time that you have. With all the opportunities you’re given, don’t restrict yourself to just one thing or one club.”
In terms of individuals interested in data analytics, he suggests getting familiarized with Google Analytics and taking online classes about the topic. Prasanna has earned his Google Analytics Certification, but for students just getting started, he said Lynda.com is a good place to start, as free access is provided by the University and they have many helpful videos.
Prasanna emphasized the importance of analytics, due to steady increases of mobile activity: “If we have to purchase something, we immediately go online. Because that market is getting bigger and bigger, companies want to know what people are doing on their digital devices. Digital analytics is how you get to know all these consumer interactions. Even if you’re not directly involved in analytics, you should know about how these interactions are measured. If you have that type of experience, it’s used in marketing, user experience, used to detect errors like payment errors, and all those types of things, so the uses are very vast.” Most importantly, he advises to always be updated about what is happening, since the field is ever-changing.
As I wrapped up our interview, I asked the grad if there was anything he would have changed about his time at Syracuse. “Something I wish I did differently? No. I don’t think I would do anything differently. It all just went perfectly.”