Jodie Anderson loves numbers. She also loves figuring things out, so her job as enrollment planning manager is a perfect fit. “I'm a little bit of a numbers nerd, my job is almost like a puzzle. Someone comes to you with a problem and you've got to pull the different pieces of data that will solve it.” Anderson began as a data analyst for an insurance company, but when her husband was given a job opportunity in Virginia, she found a position as an enrollment analyst for NOVA.
At George Mason University, where she’s been since November of 2017, she looks at data—historic and current—to examine how the School of Business is faring in terms of enrollment. One critical aspect of her work is balancing the needs of the students with the needs of the college. “It’s rewarding when you find the various pieces of data that contain the information you want—like what type of classes do we need to offer and how many sections of each. The learning curve at Mason was steep, Anderson says, “I had to learn several new software packages and know the catalogue and programs inside and out. This year is much better. I know how all the systems work. It takes about a year in a job like this to get really comfortable.”
What about when she’s not working? I love to bake and “I love baking shows!” Anderson says. “The Great British Baking Show is a favorite.” Because of her passion for putting separate pieces of data together to make a picture of the enrollment situation, it makes sense that she’d also like putting separate ingredients together to make a delicious dessert. “Macarons are my favorite challenge in baking.” Anderson says. “But they are difficult. You could have 10 perfect batches and then one won't work.” “Macarons are finicky. You can overmix, you can undermix...You can have too little humidity or too much. Your oven could be too hot or too cold...so, when you make one that’s just right, it’s a proud moment,” Anderson says. Data won’t give you that kind of trouble—if you handle it correctly and all the necessary pieces are there, it gives you the result you want. Baking is a challenge you can’t always predict. But you can eat it and it makes people happy. And, in this writer’s opinion, even an imperfect macaron is a delicious macaron. Data will never compare.