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DCE Magazine

Alumni Spotlight: Starting a New Life and Career in the U.S.

Winter 2020

Rob Archibald left the U.K. to seek success in Orange County — and found it through DCE's Accelerated Certificate Program (ACP).

Rob Archibald was stuck in a dead-end job back in his native U.K., working in sales and feeling unfulfilled, dreaming about starting a new life. He had a degree in music composition, but wanted to get into data science and learn accounting and finance skills to help jumpstart his career.

Rob always had a knack for working with numbers, but he needed to get a strong academic background in a new field and gain some practical knowledge — maybe do some networking that could open doors to a promising career.

So he made the decision to come to Orange County and enroll in DCE's Data Science and Predictive Analytics for Business Professionals Accelerated Certificate Program (ACP). After finishing the program, he enrolled in a second ACP to gain further experience in International Finance and an internship experience, both designed for international students.

“This is such a beautiful part of the country… and UCI had exactly what I was looking for,” Archibald said. “I didn't have the first idea about data science before taking the program. And I didn't have the time or money to go after another degree, so the program was exactly what I needed to launch my new career.”

The three-month postgraduate certificate programs combined gave him the skills and background that led to an internship with Geraci LLP, an Irvine-based law firm, media and consulting company. He proved to be such an indispensable and innovative team member, Geraci offered him a full-time position to complete Optional Practical Training (OPT), a 12-month practical training experience.

“While he interned with us, Rob developed many great ideas, which he then executed in a way that greatly exceeded my expectations,” said Dennis Baranowski, senior banking and finance attorney for Geraci. “It's clear that Rob cared deeply about every task that he performed here, whether it be basic data entry or teaching himself how to code in our practice management software. I would clone Rob if I could and take over the world.”

Digital Marketing Coordinator Rebekah Guerra was equally impressed with Rob's knowledge and performance.

“I worked with Rob on a daily basis and he was a fantastic team member,” she said. “He has a strong analytic and technical background with his UCI [DCE] education and has a very dynamic, strategic mind. I'm really looking forward to continue working with him going forward.”

With his new role at Geraci to look forward to, Rob plans to settle down in Newport Beach. While packing for a quick trip back to the U.K., he recently found time to talk about his journey and experience with UCI DCE.

“The internship preparation course I took coordinates networking events every quarter that give students a chance to meet each other along with representatives from companies that offer internships through the ACP.” Rob Archibald

What led you to pursue data science and finance when you had no background in it?

Well, for the last seven years or so, I was working all sorts of random jobs (hospitality, education, carpentry, sales) across the U.K., purely as means to ends – my focus was on saving to travel, to fulfill lifelong dreams before getting tied down by career and family. My move to the U.S. was really my first ever attempt at building a career I wanted to stay in. I decided to get into data analytics for several reasons, mostly because it's an exponentially growing field that's applicable to any industry. I've always been good with numbers, and I come from a family with a strong background in math and science, so it seemed like the right move. Right now, I'm very excited about this opportunity with Geraci.

You certainly caught on fast.

I'm still far from an expert but so long as I know a little bit more than the person next to me, I get by (with a little help from my friend, Google). (laughs) Both certificate programs and my internship allowed me to grow substantially into the role.

How did you go about getting the internship at Geraci?

The internship preparation course I took coordinates networking events every quarter that give students a chance to meet each other along with representatives from companies that offer internships through the ACP. So I attended with a friend of mine and met someone from Geraci. My friend found an opening there right away and helped me make connections at Geraci when I was ready. He was able to open doors to the company, so a good friend to know! (laughs)

Tell me about that experience. What did the internship entail?

Well, when I started out, the company had just lost their accountant and CFO during the same week. So that actually gave me opportunities I might not have had. During my interview I told them I'd like to focus some of my work on what I learned specifically about accounting in my coursework, and they said I probably wouldn't get a chance. But when they lost their accountant, I was able to reshape my internship to work a great deal more with accounting than anticipated, and I used what I learned in my ACP to inform my work as a whole. I also got to set up an entirely new marketing dashboard system, integrating all sorts of online data to provide actionable insights. It was a fun project to take on and I'm looking forward to expanding on it.

I understand the ACP and internship experience are geared to international students. How are their specific needs addressed?

Both addressed the differences in academia and business in the U.S., which isn't really that different from the U.K., but the classes here are more interactive and we were encouraged to ask questions. We also learned about getting work visas, details like that.

How would you characterize the quality of the faculty?

Overall, I'd say they were excellent, very professional, helpful and open to answer any questions I might have.

So now you're ready to settle into Orange County life. What sorts of things do you like to do in your spare time?

I love live music, and I'm very much into adventure travel. I like taking long motorcycle trips through less developed parts of the world. I once spent nine months riding my motorbike from South Africa to Kenya. I've also travelled through Southeast Asia, China and most of Europe. I plan on taking a motorcycle trip through Central and South America sometime in the future.

Learn more about DCE’s International Programs.