Interning at 0ptimus with Olivia Blute

What is it you say you do here? 

I work for the Data Science team, which at 0ptimus can mean a different project every day. In general, I would describe my work as using math and computer programming to draw conclusions and find answers for a variety of clients questions. Overall, I spend most of my days learning how to apply mathematical processes in context to Optimus’ projects and goals, and then explain it in a way that makes sense to everybody.

What’s it like interning at 0ptimus?

Interning at 0ptimus is quite the experience. It’s an extremely fast paced environment, with new projects and questions being raised every day. On top of that, the office is really high energy and full of work-break entertainment, from baking cookie dough in the new toaster oven to office-wide debates on the best TV shows currently or the best restaurants in DC. As an intern, it’s especially awesome as I feel like a real and valuable member of the 0ptimus staff. Unlike other internships I’ve had, at 0ptimus I am working as part of actual client projects and my work directly impacts the company’s work as a whole, which is an extremely rewarding feeling.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on here?

Since I’ve been at 0ptimus, I’ve worked on a variety of client’s campaigns to help the team. Last summer, most of my work surrounded around running ad-hoc analyses using survey data from US citizens to make predictions on the 2016 presidential election; for example, I used voter data to statistically analyze which way proven swing-states and battleground states would lean toward in the election. Over the course of many campaigns for both primary and general elections for states, I have helped craft survey reads, analyze their results, formulate models, and study the mathematical success of those models.

What excites you about the work that you do?

I love that while the work I do day-to-day exists mainly behind a computer screen, it has real-world, tangible implications. Working with 0ptimus has proved to me that numbers can lead to extremely vital findings in all sects of society, especially in terms of politics. It excites me daily that the numbers I find and the statistical models I help run will help shape how a client looks at and designs his campaign and that those decisions can then impact how the American people choose to vote. You can choose not to believe a person’s mere opinion, but when it’s backed with numbers, it has inherent impact.

What’s your favorite thing about interning in DC?

DC has always been one of my favorite cities in the world, mostly for its vibrant and diverse population and its breadth of opportunities. It goes without saying that a Political Science major would be drawn to America’s capital. I love to spend my off-time exploring all of the sites, from walking through the monuments at night to wandering around the National Gallery; the history in the city really never gets old to me. I also have a good amount of family and friends here, so I couldn’t ask for a better place to spend my summer.

If you could do anything else in the world what would you do?

All academic pursuits aside, I think I would be a professional baker and own my own bakery. I love working and talking with people and I like to think I make a pretty good blueberry pie. Maybe I could even find a way to work statistics in, like creating a model to find which pastry is most consumed in my geographic area! For now, I think I’ll keep baking as a hobby, though.