I started my life after High School by attending college for the sake of attending college. I had no strong desire to get a degree in any particular field. I just knew the expectation of me was to get a degree so I picked a class that I “enjoyed” and majored in that. That class happened to be a Marketing class so I currently have a degree in Marketing. At the time Mad Men was a huge show on TV and I thought I would constantly be in a board room coming up with pitchy slogans and TV ads. My experience, like so many others, was nothing like this at all.
My first job was in sales working for a rental car company wearing a suit and tie. I then graduated to software sales where I worked for a small company and was able to interact with the software engineers on a daily basis and found what they were doing to be quite intriguing. Fast Forward a couple of years, I saved up money, quit my sales position and enrolled in a Coding Bootcamp. 14 weeks of totally immersive, 75+ hour weeks of Full Stack Development learning 3 completely different languages. I learned a lot during my time there (I’ll write more in a different blog), but mostly what I took away was a “How”.
- How to start a career in development
- How to find answers to difficult problems
- How to think Analytically
- How to problem solve on a very micro scale
After my bootcamp and 6 months of applying for positions in a career that I had no experience in, I finally landed my first position: Data Scientist as an HR Consultant.
I was very lucky to land this position as it allowed me to take the skills I had already learned (talking to clients) and use my new skills (“coding”) to start an entirely new career.
Even at an early age I found Microsoft Excel to be quite fascinating. I took my first class in Junior High and several more in High School. I took even more Excel classes in College and loved all of the functions I was learning to write. This excitement I had for Microsoft Excel is what helped me learn more programming languages and even allowed me to excel in my new career path. Even in my sales career, I would get more excited about putting together the RFP and coming up with pricing using an excel doc than I would be about the actual sale itself.
While I don’t think its necessary to enjoy MS Excel to be good at Analytics, having some sort of Analytics thought process or enjoying work with large amounts of data will certainly help the learning curve for this new career path. When I finally did learn my first job in my new career path, my boss’ biggest complaint about me was that I never said “no” to more work. I was working 60-70 hours a week on a regular basis because I loved what I was doing and wanted to learn as much as possible about this whole new world of Analytics. I don’t think I would have been able to be successful if I did not have a actual desire to learn or if I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing.
So how do I go from what I’m doing now to a new career in Analytics?
I’ve touched on a few of these items already, but first and foremost, figure out if this is something you think you would enjoy doing. Do you enjoy using Excel? Do you enjoy math? Do you enjoy it when someone gives you a large file and ask you to manipulate it in some fashion? And mostly, Do you have the desire to Learn?
After you have answered these questions, figure out what career path you want to go down and find a trade school, Masters Classes, or Coding Bootcamp that is targeted at the career path you want to achieve. I talked briefly above about a coding bootcamp that I attended. The one that I chose was aimed a full stack development which is not the best option for the career path that I ultimately fell into, but it still opened this door for me. You don’t need to know exactly what you want to do, but there are coding bootcamps for full stack development, data science, Business Analytics, and many more. I chose the Coding Bootcamp option because it seemed to have good results, its was much quicker than getting my masters, and the cost was right about $10-15k.
If you have the financial means to fully immerse yourself in this learning, I would highly recommend this option. I quit my job and was in class 75+ hours a week. Most weeks I was bordering 90 hours a week. I was there every day, including Saturday and Sunday. I was starting completely from scratch and was starting a completely new career.
Towards the end of your classes, start APPLYING to jobs. APPLY. APPLY. APPLY. When you have sent out your 25th resume for the day, take a 30 min break and start applying again. Some applications take an hour, apply anyway. After you have sent out 100 applications, apply to 100 more. Do not stop applying to jobs. Applying to Jobs is now your new career. Become an expert. Look up the recruiters on Linked In. Call them. Email them. Send the snail mail. You are starting a new career with no experience and a certificate from a coding bootcamp. By reaching out to potential employers, it shows them that even though you may not know the answers, you will work to find the answers, you are proactive, you work hard, and you don’t give up. This can go a long way in a new job search.
Lastly, when you finally do land that new career, your old career of applying for jobs is over and your new one starts. Now you can finally relax…SIKE. Now you get to work 60-70 hours a week to get caught up to where you need to be so that you’re an asset to your boss, to your new company, and to your new career. The first year is tough. You work a lot! But you made the career change for a reason and most likely the reason is because you want to enjoy want you do for a living and you want to have a career that provides for you, your family, and your work life balance.
Again, I’ve touched on a few of the benefits of making a move to Analytics above but just want to call them out specifically.
My work life balance since getting into “tech” has been better than I could have ever imagined. For the most part there is never a boss looking over your shoulder to make sure you clocked in at 8 or stayed until 5. You have work that needs to be done and you have a life to live. Get your work done when you can, attend the meetings you are scheduled to be on, communicate properly with the client, and meet your deadlines. If your child needs to be picked up early from school, or you have a doctor’s appointment, then go do those things and complete your work later. In so many of these jobs, you now have the option to work from home. If you want to go to Denver for a week, go and work from Denver.
Working in Analytics will open so many doors. EVERY company on the planet tracks some sort of data and needs that data put into some sort of visual that will allow them to understand it and make informed decisions. Becoming a SME (Subject Matter Expert) in an area and knowing how to manipulate the data behind it will make you invaluable to any organization.
Most of the things you will work on will be project and daily tickets. This means that you have full control over about 75%-90% of your work schedule. You can schedule your own meetings and complete your project on your timeline.