Tell us about yourself
Po Bhattacharyya, a product analyst working to create IXL’s upcoming science program, has! Read on to learn more about his passion for biology and more. P grew up in Kolkata, India and currently lives in San Francisco.
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What did you do prior to coming to IXL?
I recently graduated from Brown University, where my major was geology-biology – the way I thought about it was that I was majoring in nature. One of the summers I was there, I worked as an assistant to a wildlife consultant in South Africa. His job was to go into wildlife reserves and tell the owners what to do – for example, to fix a stream that is too polluted, or to control the impala population that has gotten too large. So I went on safari with him every day, and we processed water samples, animal tracks, scat, and ran aerial surveys using a drone to count the number of animals.
What do you do at IXL?
I’m a science product analyst, so my job is to look at topics that kids learn in science, and coming up with a) what these students need to know and b) how we can test that they know these things. The last few months I’ve been working on biology skills, such as cell structure questions where kids see a picture of a cell and click on the different parts to identify them. We build algorithmic problem generators – so we actually come up with ways to create problems, rather than create the problems themselves. We determine what the easy questions and hard questions will be, and the explanations for the problems, and then our engineering and product design teams build what the student sees on the website.
What skills/qualities does it take to do your job?
You have to know your content and subject really well, but at the same time be aware that you could be wrong, and be able to seek out the right answer. Secondly, you have to be a good writer. You’re explaining these concepts to kids who don’t have as big a vocabulary, so you have to be able to say things in a clear and succinct way without dumbing it down. You also have to have good attention to detail, because we want our content to be top-notch.
What do you like about working at IXL?
I really like that there’s so much emphasis on coming up with new ideas and the best way to do something. I like that we spend so much time thinking about every single word we put in. There’s also a lot of independence and ownership over my projects – I feel like I’m actually doing something that makes a difference, and creating a tangible product.