In the working world, what started as a series of day jobs eventually led to a career path in Operations and Program Management. I was happy to be a generalist, rather than a specialist, keeping myself interested in a job by learning as many new skills as I could acquire and making lateral moves when something came along that was potentially more interesting or rewarding.
Over that time I picked up the reputation as a “number cruncher”. Managing budgets grew into projecting finances. Data entry evolved to HRIS administration. My job title was meaningless, my job description nebulous. However, I became a Keeper of Data, a Modeler of Projects, a Writer of Reports.
As the projects and requests became larger and more complex, I found it hard to work through the data with the same old set of tools. I could only get so far with brute force and Excel worksheets. Moreover, the more complex the tasks, the harder it became to clearly present my results to stakeholders.
A colleague introduced me to Tableau and that opened up a whole new world. Suddenly, I had so many more options for working my numbers. More importantly, I had so many clearer ways to present information. I started down a rabbit hole of online tutorials. The more I learned about this software, the more I wanted to learn — not just about this one tool, but about the others that started popping up as I read about Data Visualization, Big Data, Statistics, Analysis, Data Science… and was officially hooked.
I kept reading about how data-driven every industry was becoming. It doesn’t matter now if you are a cottage industry or a Fortune 100 company, you need someone to make the most of your data so you can make the most of your mission.
I talked about these things at home… a lot. Although it wasn’t her cup of tea, my wife, Sara, would listen and remark on my enthusiasm. This was something that could potentially combine passion and talent. This could become a career to enjoy. Her advice: “You should quit your job and go to a Data Science Bootcamp.”
Of course, I wanted to, but could I really do it? Did I really have what it takes? Could we really afford it? And most importantly — could I really imagine myself going back to school?
As 2019 drew to a close, I decided it was finally time to take that step. Weeks of research were followed by applications to and interviews with several schools and boot camps. Ultimately, I decided on Flatiron School. I applied for the Immersive Data Science program in early 2020 and was accepted to the program just about the time the COVID-19 pandemic was causing governors to issue “Stay at Home” orders.
It was disappointing not to be able to study with my cohort in person, and more than a little nerve-wracking to consider how everything will look in a (hopefully) post-pandemic world, but I feel strongly that Data Science will continue to be a vital part of every industry for the foreseeable future. There are a lot of changes coming, a lot of data to consider, and I am looking forward to making my contribution.
Now it’s your turn. Tell me, why did you decide to study Data Science?