What do a policy analyst for a law and lobbying firm and a technology consultant at
Ernst and Young (EY) have in common?...
A deep appreciation for their undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Information Science (BSIS) degree and a love for their alma mater, the University of South Carolina.
Elle Boyle, '22 information science, and Grace Saunders, '18 information science, recently joined Karen Gavigan, interim director of the iSchool, for lunch at the Founding Farmer’s Restaurant in Washington, D.C. The two alumnae had never met, but they quickly learned they have a lot in common.
Here's what they had to say about their exciting careers, what their workdays look like, and how the BSIS program prepared them for their jobs.
Elle: My grandfather is an alumnus, and I always had it in the back of my mind to go there. I also loved Columbia — it is a great city — very manageable and a nice place to learn how to become an adult.
Grace: My brother and cousin graduated from USC and loved it. Also, USC is a big university, but it felt small. It was not overwhelming like the campuses of other SEC universities.
Elle: I started out as a visual communications major, but it was not for me. My media arts instructor was a Ph.D. student in the School of Information Science, and he steered me towards the information science degree.
Grace: I considered majoring in political science, but I knew a poli sci major would be lost among all those majors in a city like D.C. I wanted a degree that would help me stand out in the crowd. I discovered that getting a BSIS degree opens doors to so many fields.
What is your job title, and what do you do day-to-day?
Elle: I am a Technology Consultant for EY — Ernst and Young. Research is a huge component of my job. I consult with clients on a variety of projects that utilize Oracle ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software. The projects range from three months to over a year. It is exciting to start new jobs every few months. I attend meetings and take calls from clients daily. I also work on jobs for EY executives and partners.
Grace: I am a Policy Analyst for the law and lobbying firm, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. I am on their natural resources team, so I research energy and environmental issues. We have around 35 clients in the areas of fossil fuels, water rights, mining companies and tribal rights. I focus on what is happening in Congress. I wear lots of hats! For example, I write white papers summarizing Congressional hearings or federal actions for clients on issues that impact their industries.
What do you like most about your job?
Elle: The entrepreneurial aspect, the networking, and training myself to do an effective job. I consider myself a go-getter, so I like the challenge of it all. It is like being thrown in the deep end and learning to swim.
Grace: I like working in a dynamic field in a city I love. I am a political nerd, so I love the changes that occur every day in politics and world events. It is an optimistic field, and I like being able to help to influence positive changes.
What skills did you learn in the information science program that you can apply in your current role?
Elle: The research and data organization skills I learned in class are a huge help. Also, the cybersecurity class and learning how security works on a corporate scale has been very beneficial. Finally, learning about different software systems and how they work — how information is categorized in systems.
Grace: Learning about so many databases and resources and where to go to find answers to questions and solve problems. I learned that when major issues are at play, and things are developing quickly, I must be 300% sure that the information is accurate. For example, I often see government documents that contain misinformation and disinformation or sometimes things have been left out of government reports. Through BSIS classes, I learned the value of quality control in the information that I process.
Any study strategies and/or advice that you can share with current or future students?
Elle: Be sure to keep up with all the readings and try to take notes and condense your thoughts about them. Also, if you are looking for a community, BSIS students really support each other. Reach out — every person in the iSchool wants you to succeed, so take advantage of that. Finally, go to the Undergraduate Lounge — it is great and helps build community.
Grace: Be sure to become familiar with databases, resources, and tools, such as the SWOT analysis (Strategies, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats), that can help you stand out among others in your field. Actively participate in group projects.
Finally, what is your favorite memory from your time at USC?
Elle: It was March 2022. The evening started at Village Idiot Pizza. My friends and I were watching the finals of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. When the Lady Gamecocks won, we ran to the reflecting pool in front of the Thomas Cooper Library. We ended up jumping in the reflection pool along with a lot of other students. Gamecock fans are crazy passionate!
Grace: Mine is a Gamecock 2017 sports memory. I was a junior. The men’s basketball team won the game that allowed them to advance to the Final Four in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. My friends and I ran to the fountain in Five Points and joined hundreds of students who were celebrating and jumping in the fountain.