Storytelling by the Numbers

1 August 2014

PKenney_10_MG_0926.jpgFour Carleton internships added up to a career path for Pablo Kenney ’09

For some Carleton students, finding a career direction is an “a-ha!” moment. But for Pablo Kenney ’09, the experience was more like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle.

“I had four internships while I was at Carleton,” says Kenney, a political science major. “Three were in Washington, D.C., including two in the press office of House Majority Whip James Clyburn. For the fourth, I worked as a research assistant for professor Al Montero, analyzing election data.”

Kenney’s initial Clyburn internship was part of a recurring off-campus program, Political Science in Washington, D.C., led by Steven Schier, the Dorothy H. and Edward C. Congdon Professor of Political Science. The program combines work experience with class sessions featuring dozens of leading Washington figures—legislators, judges, lobbyists, diplomats, and press.

The press-office experience got Kenney excited about the power of storytelling to influence and persuade people. But when he tackled Professor Montero’s highly analytical research project, he realized that numbers also have a compelling story to tell—for those with the aptitude to translate it.

That’s when the pieces started to come together for Kenney.

“Working with Professor Montero was fascinating because I got to experience how new research is done,” Kenney says. “It was the first time I saw the dedication, analytical skills, and strategic decisions required to conduct interesting research. I still think back to the lessons I learned from that project when I embark on new strategy projects today.”

“I saw a clear need for people who know how to tell stories with numbers, and I grew to love crafting the story around the data.”

After graduation, Kenney put his talent for numerical narrative to work for Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, one of D.C.’s premier research and consulting firms. Four years later, the same skills led him to his current position as a research analyst for tech firm Apigee in San Jose, California.

Kenney credits his Carleton education for honing the analytical and communications skills essential to his work. Five years after graduation, he’s a firm believer in the relevance of the liberal arts in today’s economy.

“Every day I watch as technology replaces jobs—replaces people,” he says. “A liberal arts education provides a set of skills that can’t be replaced by a computer.”