Hernandez said the Data and Policy Summer Scholar Program provided structured open-source coding and statistical analysis training that augment the skillsets she brings to her role as an Associate at Chingona Ventures.
Headshot of Grisel Hernandez
Grisel Hernandez

Six months into her role at Chingona Ventures, a venture capital firm, Grisel Hernandez, DPSS’23, sought opportunities to streamline firm operations and use open data sets to understand market landscapes within investment focus areas.  “However, I didn’t know where to start to build exactly what we needed and in a way that followed best practices. This led me to the Data and Policy Summer Scholars (DPSS) program.”

Before entering the workforce, Hernandez earned her undergraduate degree in economics and political science with a minor in Latin American studies from Grinnell College in Iowa. “Although I read a lot of econ papers, learned frameworks/models, and had some exposure to economic analysis through stats/econometrics, I wanted to learn open-source skills I could bring along with me that weren't tied to institutional access like Stata or SQL.”

Hernandez’s career path after graduation leaned into her interest in blending qualitative and quantitative analysis to better understand how capital is allocated in society. To that end, she worked as a market research analyst at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and as a program manager for an education impact fund at the Office of the Illinois State Treasurer. “Those experiences were great because they combined research, policy analysis, and finance—all of which prepared me for my current role as an Associate at Chingona Ventures.” There, Hernandez assists with all aspects of the firm, including evaluating prospective investments, conducting market landscape reports, and overseeing internal data collection and reporting.

DPSS, Hernandez said, dovetailed perfectly with her personal interests and career aspirations. “While it may seem odd for a venture capitalist to be interested in coding and public policy, business decisions, innovation, and policy all impact each other. Having been out of undergrad for several years, the program was an excellent refresher for how to analyze and create reports with statistical rigor.”

The program’s structure also appealed to Hernandez. “DPSS wasn’t my first virtual learning program, so I prepared to get the most out of it. I utilized office hours and career programming and met with peer students alongside the course content. Because I scheduled my time to stay engaged, I managed my workload even as a full-time employee.”

Hernandez said DPSS also helped her feel more confident on a personal level. “Pursuing something that comes less naturally to me and putting everything together via the capstone project was rewarding because it showed me I could do it, and that has made me feel more comfortable with facing challenges down the road.”

Moving forward, Hernandez plans to continue sharpening her technical skills and applying them to her current work. “I am excited to use these skills to improve the strategic data organization in my role. Eventually, I’d like to create a database to watch and manage data relating to the sectors in which my company invests—financial tech, ed tech, food tech, and future of work.” 

For those considering DPSS, Hernandez offered the following: “Have clarity on what you want to get from a part-time program like DPSS. I set my goals early and used that to prioritize and stay on task throughout the program, even during times when the workload picked up, or assignments were particularly challenging.”