Landing a Data Analytics role at your company, without luck

Opportunity meets preparation, the Data Analyst version, Part I.

Dawn Moyer
Aug 9, 2020 · 4 min read
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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

I am often approached by colleagues who aspire to break into the data analytics roles in our company. I will share with you some actionable advice I gave them that you can start using today. This article is inspired by a coworker who recommended that I share these steps you should consider in your next four months.

Part II is coming soon and will cover months 4 through 6. That requires some details about you! Please see the bottom of this article for more information.

“There is no such thing as luck, only opportunity meeting preparation.”

My college fencing coach, Olympian Dr. Nikki Franke, repeated this quote throughout my time at Temple University. Along with my fellow fencers, I have taken this to heart. Many of us continue to use this as a guiding principle.

What does this look like in your situation? Consider the illustration below:

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Building your skillset and network will increase your opportunity target. (image by author)

This illustration is one of your coworkers looking at the same roles you are considering. They have spent about four months preparing themselves and their networks. What do you see?

You can see that, for your coworker, the frequency of opportunities increases as they have grown their skillset. Not only that, but they have also expanded their network so that they become aware of the opportunities sooner than someone who has the skills, but not the network. Sometimes knowing about the opportunity is as important as being ‘ready’ for it.

Your role preparation is a combination of your skillset and your network. That becomes your opportunity target. Without preparation, your target is small. More significant opportunities will pass right by you. Your coworkers with more extensive networks will snag the roles within your skillset because they heard about it first.

So what can you do in the next four months to grow your opportunity target? You can build your skillset, and you can broaden your network.

Skillset

Identify a data analyst at your company that you feel comfortable asking questions. Invite them to coffee. Learn from them. You will need this information to prepare.

  • What do they like about their job?
  • What is challenging about their job?
  • What analytics tools do they use? Ex. Jupyter Notebooks, Spyder, VSCode, Adobe products, HUE, SAS
  • What visualization tools do they use? Ex. Tableau, PowerBI, matplotlib, seaborn
  • What data sources do they access? Ex. DB2, IDAA, Oracle, APIs, MongoDB, Hive, Presto, AWS S3 files, Redshift
  • What languages do they use? Ex. SQL, python, scala, Javascript, pyspark, PowerShell scripting
  • What kind of projects are they assigned?
  • What first steps would they recommend?
  • What resources are available at your company?

Based on your conversation, pick one item in each category commonly used in your company. You can ask your trusted contact for a combination that is popular.

  • analytics tools
  • data source
  • language

This next step will depend on your current manager’s willingness to learn with company training, tools, and time.

If you can learn on your company’s platform, that’s great!

  • Request to have the analytics tools installed on your computer. Do you need a license?
  • Request access to your chosen data source. You will most likely have to narrow your request to one database, so pick data that you might with which you already be familiar.
  • Sign up for an introductory course for your language.
  • IMPORTANT! Get sample queries or code scripts that include connecting to the data source. Every company uses a different setup. Training courses will show you generic examples only.

If you have to learn on your own time, that’s ok too!

  • There are many introductory online courses available. Medium authors have made many excellent recommendations.
  • The tools you use might be limited to open-source and free versions. If you are unable to train on the same software as your company, follow the instructor’s recommendation. These first four months are about building foundations.
  • If you are stuck? Take an introduction to SQL course. You can’t go wrong learning SQL.

Network

Tap into your company’s analytics resources.

  • Sign up for internal analytics blogs and newsletters
  • Join Analytics groups and Communities of Practice
  • Attend Analytics meetings and speakers series

Tell your manager you are interested in data analytics. If they are genuinely committed to your development, they will keep a lookout for opportunities for you.

Some companies allow informational interviews with the managers of the analytics teams. Speak with your current manager for such an opportunity.

Next

I will be following this article with an additional piece to guide your next months 4 through 6. It will focus on applying your new skills to your current position or volunteer projects within your company.

I want to be very specific in this series, so if you would like to know how to move from your current role, please let me know in the responses section. Thank you!

ILLUMINATION

We curate outstanding articles from diverse domains and…

Dawn Moyer

Written by

Data Enthusiast, fallible human. A data scientist with a background in both psychology and IT, public speaking in areas of data, career, and ethics.

ILLUMINATION

We curate and disseminate outstanding articles from diverse domains and disciplines to create fusion and synergy.

Dawn Moyer

Written by

Data Enthusiast, fallible human. A data scientist with a background in both psychology and IT, public speaking in areas of data, career, and ethics.

ILLUMINATION

We curate and disseminate outstanding articles from diverse domains and disciplines to create fusion and synergy.

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