David had some previous experience working with data, but when COVID-19 left him unemployed, he focused full-time on making a career change into data analytics. Impressed by its flexible learning style and job guarantee, David enrolled in Springboard’s Data Analytics bootcamp. After learning Tableau and Power BI, David used the Springboard job search methodology to land a Data Analyst job at Mercedes-Benz! David shares what sets Springboard’s career services apart from other bootcamps, whether Springboard was ultimately worth it for him, and his tips for future students about how to make the most of this part-time, online program.
What inspired you to pivot from freight logistics to data analytics this year?
I graduated college with a political science degree after initially studying engineering. I then spent a few years traveling the country and one summer as an Adventure Tour Leader for Trek America before landing a job at Ceva Logistics, where I worked on the Microsoft supply chain account. From there, I found a contracting gig with cruise ships that offered international travel and steep pay, which was going well until this March when COVID-19 hit and halted everything.
I had heard of bootcamps, and after losing my job, I dove into researching what was available. I had experience with analytics, but I decided it was time to get certified with more training. It felt like it was the right time to dig in.
There are several Data Analytics Bootcamps – why did you choose Springboard?
What drew me to Springboard was the asynchronous learning platform. I saw other bootcamps that required synchronous attendance in class, and that didn't jive with my learning style. Springboard’s data analytics course was part-time, but I had full-time hours to dedicate to it, so I appreciated that Springboard let students complete the program at their own pace. The tuition cost at Springboard was more affordable than other bootcamps, and on top of that, Springboard offered a job guarantee.
Would you recommend Springboard to someone else who already has some experience working in analytics?
If you already work in analytics, I recommend enrolling in Springboard’s Data Science bootcamp since it will bring you a step up on the career ladder. It had been awhile since I had been working in analytics, so the Springboard data analytics bootcamp helped refresh what I already knew and I got guided training on new tools and methods in data analytics, like Power BI and Tableau.
What was the Springboard application and interview process like?
After applying online, I received a call from Springboard’s admissions team to discuss my background and see if I would be a good fit for their program. Bootcamps with a job guarantee are more selective about who is able to enroll because they want to ensure their students have a reasonable chance of success. After the initial screening, there was an entrance skills test that I felt confident in. The skills test was around 10 questions of basic math and assessing my logic/reasoning skills.
Did Springboard test your programming knowledge during the admissions process?
The Data Analytics Career Track program doesn't require prior knowledge of coding in order to apply. When looking into data bootcamps, I was deciding between Data Science and Data Analytics. I had taken a Computer Science course in high school and I was self-taught, but I was by no means a master at programming. The Data Science program intake questionnaire required more knowledge of Python that I didn’t have. The Data Analytics program was better suited for my own background and skill set because it didn’t require extensive coding knowledge.
Did you do any prep work before starting Springboard?
As part of the tuition package, Springboard provides students access to Microsoft Office 365 for a year and access to Datacamp Premium, which includes a map of courses that align with Springboard’s curriculum. I appreciated that this was already included in the price, and that I could go above and beyond the recommended coursework.
My pro tip for future bootcampers: Springboard offers live access to the full data analytics curriculum two weeks before the actual start date, so take advantage of that extra time to get ahead in the program!
What was a typical day like in Springboard’s Data Analytics bootcamp?
I treated this bootcamp like a full-time, remote job. Monday through Friday I would get up, have breakfast with my family, get to work in a nook we set up in the house, take a lunch break, put my child down for a nap, then get back to work. Especially at the beginning, I was putting in eight hour days, five days a week. On topics that required more focus, like coding, my wife would leave the house with our child for a few days and stay with family, so I could take advantage of the quiet and put in 10+ hour days. Since the Data Analytics bootcamp is self-paced, I liked having the freedom to tackle the content at my own speed.
What did the data analytics bootcamp curriculum cover?
The first section laid out the basis of how to think analytically, coupled with real world case-study problems that challenged our problem-solving skills. Having had analytical jobs in the past, I felt confident completing this section, but it was a good refresher on how to think analytically and how to get organized.
Next they covered Excel. I already knew Excel, but Springboard taught me new things that I hadn't needed to use before. One thing that stood out to me about Springboard’s data analytics bootcamp was their real-world examples. For instance, in the Excel section, they purposely arranged Excel tabs to be formatted slightly different, so students would have to learn how to clean up the formatting. Having previously worked in analytics, I can confirm first-hand that that is exactly what happens on the job — you don't always get a perfectly formatted spreadsheet to work on. It was good preparation to work on something messy like that.
The curriculum also covered visualization programs, and Springboard focused on Microsoft Power BI and Tableau. We went through Microsoft tutorial videos to learn the visualization programs, which I had not had any prior experience in. These programs are so powerful! I kept being surprised by their capabilities.
Did the Springboard teaching style match your learning style?
One of the main reasons I chose Springboard in the first place was its self-guided format. They arrange the curriculum in progressive order so each topic builds on the last. Each module had assigned reading, optional alternative resources, and the freedom to do it at your own pace. I've always been a self-learner, disciplined, and driven, so I was able to get in the zone and work through each step.
Springboard uses Slack as the primary form of communication between cohort and instructors. Sometimes the assignments called for contributing to the Slack channel, which I would do. It was nice to connect with others to ask and answer questions we had. Personally, I was working so fast that I didn’t take much time to connect.
Springboard students complete two Capstone Projects – what did you build?
I completed a capstone project for each platform – Power BI and Tableau. My Tableau project was about cars, and my case study goal was from the perspective of a new car manufacturer wanting to enter the market, needing to assess what model it should move forward with, at what price, and with which features. I found a data set on Kaggle and did an analysis of ten years worth of car data, including models, prices, and features. By the end, I had come up with a formula considering these factors that could produce what car should be made at what price.
For my Power BI project, I assessed college football stadium fill rates. College football makes a lot of money to support other athletic departments, so keeping the stadiums filled, even at a reduced capacity, is important. I took my data set from past years and built my project around figuring out which factors were most important to keep fill rates as high as possible, even if a college had to reduce seating capacity due to COVID-19, so they could keep making money. I discovered that the number one driver of fill rates was actually the presence of good tailgate parties beforehand, and that determines the number of people in the stadiums.
What was your experience with Springboard’s unlimited mentorship?
The mentorship is there when you need it. When I used it, a mentor immediately answered my question. I used the unlimited mentorship only when I got really stuck, but I soon realized I should have called my mentor hours sooner instead of spinning my wheels trying to understand a section I couldn’t figure out!
How did Springboard prepare you for your job hunt in data analytics?
The most valuable aspect of Springboard is their commitment to job search support. Springboard’s career services team is top-notch. They are committed to encouraging, affirming, and motivating graduates who are in the trenches of searching for a job. In order to maintain your job guarantee status with Springboard, you have to complete weekly tasks, including:
Career prep was interspersed throughout the curriculum, and at the end of the bootcamp, we switched gears to fully focus on preparing for the job hunt. This included weekly calls with a career coach to track our progress and help with mock interviews, resumes, and cover letters. The career coaches at Springboard gave us an insider’s knowledge on what employers are really looking for, and it was helpful to have a point of contact with someone who is in the industry. My coach had a background in HR and hiring, so they had that insight on how a company runs, the interview process, and how long things usually take. They were also motivating, affirming that every step is progress and good practice, encouraging me to keep moving. Their guidance on resume-building was invaluable.
Looking back on my Springboard experience, I also realize that having to learn in a remote format is a big help if you end up working a remote job, which will only become more common. Switching from learning online to then working remotely was such a fluid switch for me. Instead of sitting at my nook and doing Springboard assignments, I now sit and do my work for Mercedes-Benz with the same setup.
Congrats on your new job as Reporting and Tracking Analyst at Mercedes-Benz! How did you get the job?
I got the job at Mercedes-Benz, not through Springboard directly, but by using their job hunt methodology. I had a friend who'd worked for Mercedes so I reached out to him as part of my seven contacts for the week. By doing so, I also made contact with one of Mercedes’ talent acquisition recruiters. At first, he simply accepted the LinkedIn connection, but a couple of weeks later, he reached out with a position he thought I would be a good fit for.
I did a panel interview, and I wasn’t sure if I would get the job. My Tableau capstone project about cars really resonated with them, and the Mercedes team loved me as a candidate, but they weren’t sure if I had enough experience. They connected me with my future boss to determine if I would be a good fit for the team. After that interview, Mercedes came back saying they wanted to give me a shot.
What kinds of projects are you working on at Mercedes-Benz?
Many car companies like Mercedes are facing recent legal decrees from the State of California and the U.S. EPA over diesel fuel emissions. In response, Mercedes is putting into place a modification program to ensure that diesel products currently on the market meet California’s requirements. My boss is the head of the Steering Committee, assessing the status of tasks and the direction of focus. My job is to provide her with information and reports to make those decisions. My team works with every department at Mercedes on every part of the process, so we have to know the whole project inside and out, including who to get in touch with when things are not going right in a certain division. For the next three years, I will be working on cranking out modifications and upkeeping legal obligations in the consent decree.
Are you using all of the concepts and tools that you learned at Springboard?
My knowledge of Power BI and Tableau was important to helping me get this job. Mercedes also liked that I had just completed a data analytics bootcamp because that meant knowledge of new data analysis tools and methods is fresh in my mind and that I am able to learn quickly. Mercedes has also made it clear that they will teach me whatever I don’t know. For example, they’re training me to use Alteryx, a powerful program that will add value to the team.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career change journey?
COVID-19 was the biggest challenge for me. Some of our Springboard assignments involved finding a meetup or having a coffee date to discuss the course with other students. Due to social distancing, that kind of in-person interaction wasn't an option, so my cohort had to find ways around that in a virtual space. Since people are already working from home and feeling screentime burnout, they don’t always want to meet up for a virtual social call. That made networking a little harder, but it wasn’t an impossible hurdle.
Looking back on this year, was Springboard worth it for you?
Springboard was absolutely worth it for me. While much of this information is public and I could have learned on my own, enrolling in Springboard where it was all in cohesive order and interspersed with job support totally paid off.
Also one of the big driving factors for enrolling in a bootcamp is to make a career change and see a salary increase. Since I was hired at Mercedes-Benz, my yearly salary has increased by 40% plus my new role as a data analyst came with an amazing benefits package!
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