The People Behind the Data: How One Engineer Embraced Big Data for a Big Career Upgrade

Many people enroll in an accelerated coding or data analytics boot camp to learn how to work with advanced software and cutting-edge technical tools at a professional level.

Data enthusiast Kenneth Wong was certainly one of these individuals: He wanted to upgrade his data analytics and visualization skills so he could work with more complex data sets.

But there was another reason he signed up for the Berkeley Data Analytics Boot Camp. He hoped to better understand the people behind the numbers he worked with every day.

The real power of big data

Kenneth first became interested in working with data while he was a member support representative at Kibana, an open source data visualization plugin for Elasticsearch.

“My job was to dig into the metrics of each option when our customers called in,” Kenneth said. “But my career really took off when I learned how to analyze my performance metrics on Tableau to evaluate things like call times and QA scores to really improve the customer experience. Using this data helped me become the top-ranked agent in the department.”

Despite finding success using customer data to improve the customer experience, Kenneth quickly realized there was a lot more to learn.

“As I worked on more and more data-heavy tasks using Excel spreadsheets, Tableau, and ZenDesk dashboards, I just kept finding more areas where I needed to improve,” he said.

After seeing a few ads for online courses, Kenneth decided a real classroom would be the best place to upgrade his skills and harness the true power of data. The Berkeley Data Analytics Boot Camp seemed like an ideal fit.

Where people and numbers collide

For Kenneth, one of the most surprising and impressive parts of the analytics course wasn’t the new software and technical tools—it was working side by side with the other students in his class.

“I met a lot of really good people from all sorts of different fields, ages, and backgrounds,” he said. “I’m actually still in touch with a lot of people from class.”

Kenneth credits part of his success to these personal connections and the time he spent working closely with other students to achieve their common goals. The classroom setting certainly helped.

“Physically being in class and studying together brought us together as a community in a way that you just can’t duplicate online,” Kenneth said. “Plus, the instructor and TAs were incredibly helpful and encouraging to all of us the entire time.”

Mastering the nuances of teamwork

Collaborative group projects are a cornerstone of every coding or data analytics boot camp. Students hone real-world skills as they build functional websites, apps, and viable programs using skills they’ve learned in class. More importantly, they experience what it’s like to work with a team of other analysts, engineers, or developers who have distinct perspectives.

“It was a great learning experience to work with so many people from different fields. It brings unique perspectives and scope to each project,” said Kenneth. “Working with my teammates and aligning our styles to complete projects was fun.”

These group projects also held an unexpected benefit for Kenneth. Since he knew he would have to give a presentation at the end of each project, he found himself looking at the data with different eyes.

“One of the best things about the boot camp was the presentation element of the course,” said Kenneth. “You have to formulate how to present projects and how you want to build those visualizations. It’s a way to strategize your end results ahead of time and tell your story about the data.”

Crunching the numbers

After finishing the boot camp, Kenneth dove headfirst into the job search. He sent out dozens of applications, and interviewed and tested for several positions before ultimately accepting his new position as an associate data analyst at an advertising agency.

“The interview and application process was definitely challenging,” said Kenneth. “But you have to keep pushing yourself. I worked with Matthew, a career counselor, and he provided a lot of positive resume feedback and even conducted mock interviews.”

Kenneth’s new role allows him to use data the way he always wanted to—to help deliver better experiences to people.

“It’s all about digging through the numbers for data that influences real strategic decision-making. Then we track and present it through clear visualizations that help our teams communicate and connect with clients,” said Kenneth.

He has come a long way since first dipping his toes in data from an Excel spreadsheet, yet his career in data analytics is just getting started.

“In five years, I’d like to become an expert in data analytics,” Kenneth said. “The boot camp was great exposure to what’s out there and gave me a big step toward mastering technical skills like Python, SQL, and other data analysis tools. In the future, I’d maybe even like to get my master’s in data science.”

Kenneth’s final piece of advice for anyone considering an accelerated coding or analytics boot camp is all about focus.

“The field evolves so rapidly. You have to constantly stay engaged—even after the boot camp,” he said.

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