To Succeed in Data Analytics, Adopt an Open Mind
Sri Nivedita Ramakrishnan was happy in her career as a business analyst, but she didn’t exactly feel challenged or that she had room for growth. After four years in this role, she began looking to numbers—specifically, to data—to push her career forward.
“I saw colleagues and others in my network succeeding thanks to extra knowledge of the data field,” Sri said. “It’s not just a hot skill—it also really intrigued me. I love that you can observe outcomes and results, and see real progress from day to day.”
Once she decided to pursue a data education, Sri had to determine how she’d get there. An in-person course was important to her. “I wanted to learn with people with different backgrounds from me, and just have the accountability of being in a classroom,” she said.
The Berkeley Data Analytics Boot Camp came highly recommended from a couple friends—and once Sri looked at the curriculum it was a no-brainer. She enrolled in the 6-month program and prepared to gain the skills her career needed.
Putting accountability into practice
At the start of the course, Sri held no expectations other than for herself: she would take full advantage of her resources and instructor assistance to gain a working knowledge of data analytics. The assignments helped hold her accountable.
“Each of our classes had an instructor demonstration and student exercise,” Sri said. “The weekly assignments made us put our brains to use. I wasn’t just getting by, but actually learning and understanding the new techniques.”
Since she had no prior coding experience, that component of the course was particularly challenging for Sri. Almost overnight, she had to learn a new vocabulary. In the process, she learned what areas she excelled in.
Projecting real-world experience
While each course project had to meet certain criteria, the topics were left up to students to decide—giving Sri creative freedom unlike anything she had experienced before.
“I worked with a group of three students for the majority of the projects, and we were able to come up with ideas that were close to our hearts,” Sri said.
The first project? Sri and her group analyzed Airbnb pricing data sets. All the group members were avid travelers, so Airbnb was a fun outlet for them to explore early on.
The second project was particularly personal for Sri. It looked at women’s and men’s literacy rates in her native India.
“I’ve seen firsthand how the gap between women and men affects society,” Sri said. “So we looked in-depth at just how far the divide goes to really understand the problem.”
For the final project, the team explored machine learning, which proved to be one of the topics Sri enjoyed most. The group used customer data from popular grocery shopping service Instacart to determine future purchases.
All of these group experiences helped Sri learn to work collaboratively.
“I had no previous group coding experience—or any coding experience for that matter,” she said. “You work on separate parts of the code, and then you put it together at the end. It requires you to trust that everyone will complete their portions, and to stay accountable for your own.”
Charting a new career trajectory
During boot camp, Sri stepped into a new role with Juniper Networks, a provider of networking and cybersecurity solutions. As a business operations analyst, Sri is focusing on the company’s data and applying the knowledge she learned in boot camp.
“There are more basic ways to do my job, such as using Excel,” Sri said. “But having boot camp in the back of my mind encourages me to push myself and use languages like Python and Tableau to automate processes. The course definitely gave me the knowledge to confidently suggest improvements and make things more efficient.”
Sri firmly believes it’s never too late to change careers or learn something new—and she assures those considering boot camp that it’s not as intimidating as you think.
“Just look at how I was afraid of coding, then learned to overcome that fear in boot camp,” Sri said. “Now I use coding every day. I think anyone can beat the learning curve by taking the material one step at a time.”
The one constant throughout Sri’s journey was her open mind—something she believes every attendee needs to make the most of their boot camp experience.
“Take away what you can, and master the things you want to learn,” she said. “From there, it will all fall into place.”