Ryan Van Ostrand
Data Analyst, HBE, Lincoln, Nebraska
Ryan Van Ostrand

Visualizing data

Ryan was recruited to Northwestern by the college’s golf coach but then also joined the Raider esports League of Legends team. He now employs his math skills and technological expertise as a data analyst for a company that provides cloud-based accounting services.

What do you do as a data analyst for HBE?
I create data visualizations using Tableau software for people within HBE and for outside clients. In my day-to-day, I also do simple IT tasks and some business valuation work. I get the joy of choosing the proper method to display people’s data in a clear and concise matter and to do some of the IT tasks that I learned through my work-study job with Northwestern’s IT department. I love that I get to challenge myself with new technologies and problems. I never used many of the applications I use now—and I never applied business valuation functions before—but in my time at HBE, I’ve learned many different aspects of the company, and it’s been a lot of fun to face those challenges.

How did Northwestern prepare you for your career?
My college experience equipped me with tools for learning and prepared me for on-the-job training. I think that’s as much as you can ask for when you’re starting a new career. I may not know the technologies that I’m going to be using in the next five years, but I know that I have the correct thought processes in order to learn those technologies as they arise. I also think I have the background to learn within almost any field that I choose to go into in the future.

How did Northwestern impact your faith?
Northwestern challenged me to think about how I should interact with the world. Through conversations with staff and students, I was encouraged to serve others with everything I have. I felt the love of others on Northwestern’s campus, which reminds me of this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.” My hope is that I can continually love people in order to create community around me. Northwestern will forever be a great example of what it means to love others in community, and I’m grateful I got to participate in that.

What were your Northwestern professors like?
They go above and beyond to ensure their students learn. Dr. Jongerius is a professor who challenges her students to explore mathematics and develop the skills to continually learn mathematics on their own. And Dr. Huffman is not only one of the most brilliant human beings I’ve ever known, he is also very understanding of students and their needs outside of academia.