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  • Writer's pictureMonica Kay Royal

Data Careers Summit

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The Data Careers Summit seeks to help individuals break into and move up in the data & analytics fields. The focus of this event will be on helping individuals navigate the many career paths available, such as data analytics, data science and data engineering.


Senior Data Evangelist, Tableau

Andy gave the best keynote for a data career summit as he walked us through the details of his journey to becoming a Data Evangelist for Tableau.

First off, a Data Evangelist includes helping people see and understand data, using the Tableau visualization tool. He does this by creating content that informs, educates, and entertains through books, blog posts, podcasts, YouTube videos, and speaking at events like this.

Many people often ask, how do you become a data analyst, and he has always found this to be a difficult question to answer. Everyone’s background, path, and journey is different. He recommends that people focus on the skills they want to obtain and to keep things on a broad spectrum.

What I found the most enlightening was not the roles that lead him along his journey, but the skills that he acquired along the way. It’s one thing to say that you had early dreams of becoming a comic book artist, studied geography, started your career as a software engineer and moved to database development. Took a break as a tour guide journalist, which led to getting a gig as a business researcher and spreadsheet guru, and ultimately guided you to become a data analyst and a Tableau expert.

The more colorful story here is to share that your early passion for art led you to study the art of critical thinking which was then applied to using coding to improve the user experience and database development. A small pivot into experiencing life as a writer and speaker led you down a rabbit hole of research and excel spreadsheets and you resurfaced to find yourself enjoying analysis using Tableau.

Another thing that people often ask about or experience in their careers is imposter syndrome. Andy also experiences this as he sometimes thinks his accomplishments are rubbish, but since Brandy and Dustin asked him to speak as a keynote, he must be awesome. A lot of times this imposter syndrome comes from analyzing others, especially what they post on social media. But remember that many people don’t post first drafts, so what you see is likely a polished product.

If you are interested in checking out any of Andy’s content, check out these resources.

You can checkout Andy's newsletter

Here's the link to Andy's course

Plus, a review of Andy’s book, The Big Book of Dashboards, from his daughter.

I have to say, her drawing skills are better than mine 😂

Day in the Life

Data Scientist

What is a Data Scientist

  1. Problem Solver

  2. Support Decisions

  3. Scale - she values this the most and mentions that we are not here to just solve one problem, we want to scale to more scenarios

  4. Influence - this is the ultimate goal

Product Data Scientist vs. Horizontal Data Scientist

  • Product: works with business or product managers and focuses on building a specific product

  • Horizontal: works with the business and focuses on problems across multiple pillars in a company

Day-to-Day Breakdown: Product Data Scientist

  • 30% - project analysis / experiment / opportunity sizing

  • 30% - metrics building / engineering / productionalize

  • 40% - communications / meetings / daily-standups

  • 10% - ad-hoc

*yes this equals 110% 😊

Day-to-Day Breakdown: Horizontal Data Scientist

  • 60% - long-term development / maintaining existing workflows

  • 30% - communication / meetings

  • 10% - on-call work / ad-hoc

Data Scientist career track in first 5 years

  • Entry-level individual contributor

  • Senior-level IC

  • Manager

Someone asked Sunny, how did you get started in your career as a Data Scientist, and what advice would you have for someone who is just starting out?

Sunny feels the same as Andy, there are a lot of different paths to getting any role. Her advice, make sure that you are interested in it and don’t just get into it for the hype. If you are interested in the data and really want to tell a story and solve problems, then you are in the right place. Also, if it is hard for you to step away from your computer to eat dinner, you are in the right place.

Data Analyst

Jenn comes from a somewhat non-traditional background of math, computer science, and obtaining a Masters is Operations Research. She started out in supply chain, went into marketing research, and then to teach. As she found her way into data, she realized that the skills she acquired during her journey helped out a lot.

One thing Jenn learned about careers is that it boils down to what you are interested in. She also mentioned that you don't have to be passionate about your career (hot take) as you can have passions in other parts of your life. I thought that was a great thing to highlight, especially in these times where it is drilled into our heads that you need to do something you love.

Currently, as a Senior Research analyst, here are some of the things that Jenn does:

  • Data Request Fulfillment | SQL, R, Excel, and Communication Skills

  • Building PDF Reports | Tableau, SQL, Excel, and InDesign

  • Building Dashboards | Tableau and internal BI tools for external and internal dashboards respectfully

  • Maintenance of Dashboards

  • Data Analysis Projects | SQL and R

Jenn also shares that if you are looking to build your skills and a portfolio, you can participate in many online communities

Data Engineering / Data Architecture

What used to be called ‘ETL Developers’ now is known as Data Engineering. The main tasks that Justin works with are related to building out data pipelines, ETL/ELT, and administering databases and data platforms as a whole.

Taking it a bit further, a day in the life can consist of any of the following for Justin:

  • Building processes which surround and support regulations such as CCPA and GDPR

  • Supporting and building automation to support data scientists and data analysts

  • Running platforms against different environments, development/test/production

  • Managing the system costs of your cloud

  • Building policies for data access security

  • Data quality and data quality testing

  • Build deployment automations

Basically, data engineering looks a lot like software development, and in some cases it acts as a bridge. A common misconception is that the role requires a lot of coding where in actuality Justin spends more time talking about the code that was ready written or needs to be written. Also, he thinks that soft skills are highly underrated for data engineers and notices a lot more non-traditional career paths like what Jenn had described.

The best part about Justin’s presentation is that he shares why NOT to start a career in data engineering. Considering that data is a big buzzword right now, there is a high demand. Some behind the scenes Justin wanted to highlight, there is always going to be a list of things to do, you will always feel like you are behind, and the learning never stops. Data Engineering is not typically treated as a traditional 9-5, there are things happening after hours like obtaining certifications and completed side projects. So much like what Sunny shared, make sure that this is really what you want to be doing.

Ending on a happy note, Justin shared the things that he loves about Data Engineering:

  • Every company is a tech company

  • Every company is becoming a data company

  • Our skills are needed everywhere which brings a level of freedom

  • You get to solve a million small puzzles every day

  • AND you get to have fun!

From The Job Doctor

If you haven’t heard of The Job Doctor, you need to go for a visit! Tessa White creates content to help people with their careers, in a fun and relatable way on Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn. You can follow her on social media @jobdoctortessa.

She even has a book, The Unspoken Truths for Career Success, and a podcast, The Job Doctor Is In.

Company Highlights

Who is Hiring

Northwestern Mutual



In Summary

If you would like to watch the event, whether you missed it or would like to relive the excitement, check out the recording here

If you liked this event and would like to see more, attend again for the Fall Summit, September 22, 2023, register here


If you would like to chat about your career, consider scheduling a call with me to discuss which skills you currently have and how they can apply to a career in data.

Thank you for reading, thank you for supporting

and as always...
Happy Learning!!

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