How to make a mid-career switch to analytics?
Gaurav Vohra | March 26,2012 10:06 am IST
One of the most common questions I am asked by prospective students is how easy or difficult is it to make a mid-career switch into analytics. Often times, the person asking this will have 3 to 8 years of prior experience in a field other than analytics.
Naturally, they are concerned about how much their non-analytics experience will count for, in analytics.
There is no simple answer to this question. Many factors have a bearing on this.
Do you have knowledge of a domain that is data intensive, for example retail, banking, insurance, telecom, CPG, media, health care etc.?
Do you have experience in domains that are closely connected with analytics, for example data warehousing, reporting and dashboarding, market research etc.?
Do you have technical skills that are valued in analytics for example knowledge of excel, SQL, analytics software, Python, Perl etc.?
Did your job involve dealing with data and information for example, forecasting, pattern detection, trend and anomaly identification etc.?
Did your job involve developing other skills such as project management, team management, preparing and delivering pitches etc?
If the answer to one or more of these questions is yes, it means at least some of the skills you developed will be relevant to analytics. Hence, the weight of your prior experience will increase.
We recently contacted one of our alumnus who made a successful mid-career switch to analytics and asked him to share his experience and learning with our readers. Here is what he had to say.
Electronics & Telecommunication Engineering
ISTQB certified software engineer
Close to 4 years of IT experience with emphasis on Software development, testing as well as data analysis
Why did you choose to move into analytics?
I had been working in the IT field for close to 4 years, primarily in the telecom domain. After 4 years of working on the software development and testing processes, I found the work to be mundane and not challenging. I wanted to get closer to business, learn how businesses really work, how strategic decisions are taken, and not stay confined to the technical side. Further, I wanted to do something that was challenging and where I would be learning new things everyday.
Some of my friends were already in the field of analytics, and had managed to achieve a lot of success in a short time. On talking to them, I realized analytics is a challenging and high-growth field that will also get me much closer to business than IT.
How did you start preparing for the career transition?
Since I did not have a lot of knowledge of this field, I started searching on the internet and came across the Jigsaw blog. I found a lot of useful information on this blog about career opportunities in analytics and how to go about making a transition to this field.
I joined Jigsaws Foundation course in analytics. The 12-week course prepared me not only on SAS but more importantly on the various analytic techniques and their application in business. I worked on various case studies and projects as part of the course, which gave a real-life flavour to the learning.
The mentorship I received from the Jigsaw team during and after the course has been excellent and has helped immensely in making a smooth transition.
What about the SAS certification?
I also came to know about the SAS certification and decided to give the exam. With the learning I got from the Foundation course, it was easy for me to prepare for the SAS certification. I used the Little SAS book as well as SAS preparation guides for reference. Additionally, I am a regular reader of blogs of SAS certified professionals. All this preparation helped me clear the Base SAS certification comfortably.
Did you get any placement support from Jigsaw?
Jigsaw Academy identified various interesting openings for me in analytics. They helped me get short-listed for interviews. Jigsaws faculty helped me tailor my resume for analytics and later prepare for analytics interviews. I was even able to talk to people who were in roles similar to the ones I was interviewing for. This really helped me prepare better for the interviews.
In the end, I was able to showcase my interest, knowledge as well as experience in analytics effectively in my interviews.
Are you happy with your decision?
I am very happy to say that I have been able to successfully transition to analytics after spending 4 years in IT. I am working in a pure analytics role and enjoying the work I do, and the rewards are not too bad either.
I feel if you have a real passion for analytics, it is never too late to jump into the field.