The Wider World of Data

Bannasorn (Boss) Paspanthong (MSiA ‘23) shares how his Capital One internship experience showed him a different part of the data science community and was vital to shaping his future.

To Bannasorn (Boss) Paspanthong (MSiA '23), his summer internship at Capital One was a test.  

Yes, it was different from the ones he had taken in classrooms, but it was one he eagerly anticipated nonetheless. 

Bannasorn (Boss) Paspanthong“I was looking forward to testing my ability to work as a data scientist,” Paspanthong said.  “Specifically, I wanted to see what I'm currently lacking and receive guidance from the Capital One data science community on how to be a better data scientist.”  

Paspanthong said he feels like he passed the test, honing his data science skills and opening up new career opportunities in the process.  

He now has returned to Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Analytics program – now the Master of Science in Machine Learning and Data Science (MLDS) program – to complete his studies with a wealth of new knowledge.  

“I got to see that the data science world is much bigger than I thought,” Paspanthong said of his Capital One opportunity. “There are so many smart people and smart solutions out there that amaze me. This is an experience that we can only get from real-world companies.”  

During his time with the financial transaction institution, Paspanthong put into practice the machine learning (ML) skills he learned in the MLDS program. His work at Capital One involved improving the company’s ML models through the in-depth analysis of call transcripts.  

In the process, he got a crash course in natural language processing, a technology that enables computers to interpret, manipulate, and comprehend human language. It is at the heart of the artificial intelligence revolution with services such as ChatGPT.  

“I'm always excited by learning new things because of my curiosity,” he said. “In the beginning, this project was both exciting and a little scary, but I need to face this kind of problem anyway, so why not face it now?”  

That curiosity and willingness to learn allowed Paspanthong to find success during his internship. He said the most inspiring parts of his time with Capital One were that interns have the same level of responsibility as full-time data scientists and that every project the data science team works on is important to the company.  

That kind of responsibility was a strong motivator, Paspanthong said.  

“Knowing that my work will have an impact is a huge driving force for me,” he said. “Even if there is no positive result, that is still an impact as knowledge for the community.”  

Paspanthong said the internship expanded his horizons for his post-MLDS career possibilities, but he is taking a wait-and-see approach before narrowing his focus to any one field. Data science, he said, wasn’t originally part of his plan, so who knows what the next class might inspire him to do?  

“The future is uncertain, so let's see what will happen after this,” he said. “One thing that I'm sure of is that I would like to create an impact for someone in this world.”  

The MLDS provides just those kinds of opportunities, Paspanthong said, which is why he strongly recommends it to prospective students looking for a career boost.  

“The data science world is extremely big and interesting. It is full of possibilities to change the world with data,” he said. “If that sounds like a journey that you would like to take, then this program is a good choice.” 

McCormick News Article