How I Became a Data Analyst

I didn't originally set out to become a data analyst, but it turned out to be a great career decision that led to a rewarding and fruitful career.  In this blog post, I'll share the story of how I became a data analyst, the challenges I encountered along the way, and the valuable lessons I learned.

Let's start with my background. I hold a Bachelor's degree in Management Information Systems (MIS), also known as Computer Information Systems (CIS) or IT Management. During my time in college, I embarked on five diverse internships at different companies to explore the vast field of IT and determine my area of focus.

Upon graduating, I landed a position as a Jr IT Business Analyst at a Fortune 50 company. This role involved deploying transportation planning software across various divisions. I performed tasks such as gathering requirements, QA testing, and managing work-intake processes. However, after about a year and a half, I started feeling a sense of monotony.

At that point, a colleague introduced me to her work with Tableau and how she had obtained certification through an affordable Udemy course. Intrigued by this field and recalling my passion for analytics during college, I decided to pursue an analytics role for my next opportunity.

I went back home and did more research about the analytics field and it was then that I decided to pursue an analytics role for my next opportunity. So I got to work, I would come home from work and spend an hour or two every evening taking the same Udemy course my friend had recommended to learn the basics of Tableau, I started going to Tableau User's group meetings to build my network, and started doing the weekly challenges like MakeoverMonday and WorkoutWednesday that I repeatedly talk about on my videos to build a portfolio of visualizations, I got a Tableau certification, and I set up LinkedIn job alerts for data analyst roles in my area. 

After a couple of months of doing that, I started feeling pretty confident in my growing analytics skills and I started telling people at work that I was interested in an analytics role and to let me know if they heard of anyone looking for a data analyst. 

Within a couple of weeks, one of my peers let me know that there was a Tableau project for an Employee Resource Group, basically an employee club, he was a part of and I jumped on the opportunity. It was a pretty fun project, dealing with geographical data, and some basic Tableau functions like Viz In tooltip

This was a pivotal moment, as it was my first time doing a real-life analytics project. I met with stakeholders to learn more about what they wanted, explored the data set and did the necessary data preparation, asked questions about the data, went through rounds of iterations with my stakeholders to tweak the dashboard, and then we published the dashboard to be used by the company. 

About 3-4 weeks after that dashboard went live I got a LinkedIn job alert for a data analyst role in the same company I was working at and I applied immediately. The interview process was pretty standard STAR questions, and I was also able to show off both my Tableau public portfolio and the dashboard I had built for the employee resource group, and within a couple days I was notified I had the role!

And that's it! That was the start of what eventually led to me becoming an analytics manager within five years of my first analytics role. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Vocalize what you want. Tell people your friends and peers that you are looking for a new opportunity. Without my friend showing me her role, and my other friend telling me about the Tableau project I'm not sure I would've gotten to where I am today.
  • Prioritize networking. Going to the Tableau User's group meetings and meeting other people in the field and learning from them made me a lot more confident in my career choice.
  • Put in the work. I am not going to lie and say it was an easy path, it was putting in hours and hours of learning and failing that got me to where I am today, but it wasn't impossible, it just takes a lot of perseverance.
  • You can do it all for free, I paid for that Udemy course and to get a Tableau certification, but looking back on it I didn't need to do either one. Especially now with so many free resources out there to help you learn. Not to say you might not have a better experience with some paid courses, but you can do it all for completely free.

@datawithluis Replying to @Mase Flanagan This is how I started my journey in Data Analytics. Follow me for more data content. #DataAnalyst #Data #DataAnalytics #Tableau #PowerBI #STEM #DataAnalystHelp ♬ original sound - Luis - Data Analyst

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