MSDS Online Student Profile: Elina Ribakova

August 29, 2022
Elina Ribakova Online MSDS alumna

Current Employer
The Institute of International Finance, Deputy Chief Economist

M.S. in Data Science 2023, University of Virginia
M.Sc. in Economics, Warwick University
B.Sc. in Economics and Business Administration, Stockholm School of Economics in Riga

Q: Tell us about your path to data science.

I refuse to be a dinosaur! While I studied econometrics at school in 1999 and tried to keep up with the developments over the last 20+ years, I found that programming, data analysis techniques, and even what we consider data (text, photos) have evolved so much that I need a structured way to upgrade to my toolbox. 

Q: What do you hope to do with a data science degree?

I want to be a part of the change in the way we not only analyze problems in macroeconomics and geopolitics but also in the way we pose the research questions themselves. For example, we never used to think of text as data, and the fact that we do now, I believe, will revolutionize much research on monetary policy. For example, I am working on a paper on how central banks communicate and how it affects policy outcomes.  

Q: What has surprised you about the MSDS program so far?

What surprised me the most was how hard the program is, how approachable the professors are, and how supportive my fellow students are. We are evaluated individually on our assignments, but without the comradery, exchange of ideas, and just plain moral support, I do not think I would have managed this far.  

Q: What advice would you give to someone considering a master’s in data science?

Ask yourself why you are planning to give up your weekends for 2-3 years. If it is worth it, then do go for it. It is never too late.

Q: What are some fun facts about yourself?

  • I had to stop kiting, so this has been an enormous opportunity cost for me, but I hope to return to it once I graduate.

  • We also foster dogs from Shenandoah Shepherd Rescue; they come out well educated in data science.

  • We have two kids (10 and 11 years old), and I think they feel better that they are not the only ones with math homework on the weekend. I am waiting for them to start helping me with my coding. 


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