ORIE Senior Spotlight--Isabel Chien

Isabel Chien

Why Cornell?

Choosing to come to Cornell wasn’t a hard choice for me. With its numerous colleges and an assortment of majors to pick from, I felt as though if I attended Cornell I would have dozens of career paths to choose from. As a 17 year-old who had no idea what the world could offer, I felt as though the more opportunities I had in front of me the more likely I would land in the right place, and I wasn’t disappointed!



I originally didn’t start in the College of Engineering, but entered Cornell as an undecided major in the College of Arts of Sciences. However, I soon realized that the majors in A&S no longer intrigued me, and I found myself gravitating towards majors that intentionally taught students to apply what they learned to real world problems. As I did a bit more soul searching, I came to the realization data science is the backbone of every industry and the ability to understand and utilize data to make decisions would be the most beneficial to me in whichever industry I chose to pursue. ORIE checked the boxes of teaching me how to handle/analyze data, manipulate data, and explain data to a technical and non-technical audience, while emphasizing the idea of optimization and challenging me in math and computer science.


What have I learned pursuing this major?

Within ORIE, I have learned to become uncomfortable with not knowing what a problem means and how to start it at first glance. Every ORIE class is a challenge, and if I thought at first it wasn’t, by the end I changed my mind. ORIE taught me the power of numbers and data and how we can use such tools to make optimized decisions, which then lead to a better outcomes.


Any advice for students considering ORIE?

If you are considering ORIE, be prepared to become very familiar with numbers and Python! You’ll find yourself scratching your head about how to make a problem more optimal and efficient. So, if this sounds interesting to you, then ORIE is the path for you. In addition, don’t be afraid to ask for help! I’ve met some really great friends within my major, and we have leaned on each other throughout the grueling semesters.


Any interest outside of school work?

Though during the semester I am usually very busy with work, outside of school I am someone who seeks outdoor adventures, as well as traveling. This past fall I had the opportunity to study abroad in Hong Kong and was lucky enough to explore the city of Hong Kong, as well as all the surrounding hikes. I went to Hong Kong not knowing a single person, but came out of my study abroad semester with some of my closest friends who I still keep in touch with even though they are miles away in Europe. 


What stands out to me about your Cornell ORIE experience?

The experience that stands out to me most about my ORIE experience is the three semesters I got to work alongside Dr. H and witness her passion for engineering communications. It’s easy to pass through college and put your head down, but by Dr. H training me to become an engineering TA consultant, I was able to see the behind the scenes of what it takes to teach students and the theory behind the practice of teaching. This is something I never thought I would have the opportunity to learn about, but was surprised by how much I not only learned about mentoring, report writing, and effective feedback, but also how much I enjoyed it. 


What’s next for you?

This summer I have the opportunity to start my first job at Amazon Web Services as a Cloud Consultant!


Favorite quote that helps inspire you in your work/life?

I don’t have a specific quote, but I am constantly reminding myself that some things are uncontrollable, so put energy and love into experiences you can control and relationships that are worth your time!

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