Jul 19, 2022


Business Intelligence Careers

How Do You Transition To A Data Analyst Career?

14 min read

Jul 19, 2022


Business Intelligence Careers

How Do You Transition To A Data Analyst Career?

14 min read

Jul 19, 2022


Business Intelligence Careers

How Do You Transition To A Data Analyst Career?

14 min read

Currently Reading

How Do You Transition To A Data Analyst Career?

At Maven, you know we love sharing stories about students who have successfully transitioned into their data analyst dream role. Those stories inspire others, and being a part of them is always the most fun part of our jobs as instructors.

Today's tale is not one of those.

Call this one a future success story, which is still in progress.

This time, we'll give you a different perspective, by interviewing Marco Michelini, who is currently in the middle of his data analyst career transition.

Marco will talk about his motivation, his initial steps, why he chose his particular learning path, what the journey has been like so far, and what he's looking for in his ideal data analyst role.

Before we show off some of Marco's portfolio projects and dive into his interview, I want to share my perspective on why I'm personally so bullish on Marco's future as a data analyst.

  1. Marco embodies The Analytics Trifecta. He offers strong technical skills, is a great communicator, and brings plenty of business acumen and excellent strategic thinking. He's got everything needed to be an absolute top shelf data analyst.

  2. He has a charisma and enthusiasm that I wish I could bottle and sell. Marco has become one of the cornerstones of our current bootcamp cohort, helping others, organizing study groups, and tackling the learning material as ferociously as anyone we've ever seen. Marco is non stop.

  3. I've seen his work product, and it is fantastic. The analysis is strong. He provides solid business recommendations. He communicates everything clearly and makes compelling arguments. In the SQL module that I taught, the questions Marco asked showed deep understanding and excellent critical thinking abilities.

Parts of this are just who Marco is naturally.

Other pieces have compounded over time, from putting in an outsized effort, which you can tell is in Marco's DNA. This guy is MOTIVATED.

Marco is someone who will get snapped up quickly when his current bootcamp is over, and he's going to make some employer extremely happy.

If you are looking for analytics talent, I would recommend you take a look at the project presentations we'll include in this writeup, and then grab Marco's contact inforamtion from the bottom of the page. Reach out before someone else beats you to it.

Check out Marco's SQL project presentation:

Okay, let's get into the interview!

Deciding to transition to a data analyst career

Q: Can you describe the moment you decided you wanted to start learning about data? What was the spark that motivated you? What were you doing at the time? What were your initial hopes for your learning journey?

I think it was around Fall 2020, but the roots go back to my engineering studies and all the experiences I had, both professionally and personally. We are full of data everywhere, we just don’t know how to put them to good use for us.

Just to provide you with my background, I’m an international sales manager, spending much of my time traveling to all continents, at least 100 to 120 working days/year, so when COVID struck and we all got stranded, I was frustrated by “inactivity”. I have always been a good student, I have a Ph.D. in Telecommunication Engineering, I know 4 languages, I’m a sports enthusiast: I’ve always challenged myself to learn new things along the way.

In 2020, one of my closest friends had just been appointed as Head of Data Analytics department at a big Food Chain in Italy. He seemed happy and was climbing the ladder fast, fast, fast. I was following his story thinking this could be fun, but it was not for me. I was too old to transition.

Then in Sept. 2020, a consulting firm started a full revision of our company procedures, operations etc. and I was exposed intensively to data analytics, mainly from the “consumer” side. I was presented with vizzes, dashboards, and lots of fancy charts, but no exposure to the “behind the scenes”. How could you make these charts come alive?

I understood they were using Excel to conduct their analysis. And hey, I was the guru of Excel in our company. I thought knew everything about it, but I was going to be proven wrong shortly.

I volunteered to do all the dirty work in Excel for my group (create reports and charts to show our performance and improvements), and shortly after realized that the skills I had were not enough to ETL data and present results effectively. The consultant charts were so much better than mine, which were absolutely basic at that time, and I desperately wanted to be as good as them! That’s what moved me to start really studying Excel and honing my skills, with the main purpose to be able to create effective charts and reports to present to my supervisors.

NOTE: that was then. Check out Marco's Excel skills now:

Starting the data analyst journey

Q: What were your first steps once you decided to start learning? How did that go?

The first step I took was researching what Big Data, Data Analytics, and similar terms were, what it was all about, and why people were so excited about data. I discovered it is a science, WOW. And engineers are researching such science, double WOW! (I’m an engineer).

I wanted to learn more, and the first step I took was enrolling in an Online Master in Big Data and Marketing Strategy, a part time program introducing students to the concept of Data Analytics and application to Marketing Strategy.

I wanted to transition from mere sales to Sales & Marketing with a broader scope, knowledge and abilities. Boom, first mini revolution was launched. Marco is growing!

Meanwhile, I was researching courses on Excel to improve my skills. The first place I looked was LinkedIn. I was already using the platform to connect with other professionals for my job, so I started considering their learning platform.

The first course I took was from Dennis Taylor, pretty basic stuff, but it helped me lay the foundation right and start building knowledge bottom up. I had no certified experience with Excel back then, so I thought it was the right strategy to come up with basic understanding supported by certificates to support my knowledge.

After finishing that beginner course, I realized I was far from being an Excel Expert. I was nothing more than a young novice able to do some basic stuff. I didn’t even know you could build a combo chart or that there were new features such as DB modeling!

I did some further research on LinkedIn, which returned Chris Dutton and his courses as the best match.

His offer was broken down in several courses, and since the urge was to solve charts problems, I took “Excel Data Visualization: Mastering 20+ Charts and Graphs”. The title seemed cool, the guy looked young and relatable, and he was smiling, so I gave it a shot and… BOOM!

I was hooked and fired up. This guy knew exactly how to do things... create charts, format them, you name it. I immediately fell in love with his teaching: loved the approach, the sound of the voice, the examples. I mean, it felt like home. I was finally having a mentor to follow in my learning process. I took one course after another, and immediately applied those skills. In the Masters program I delivered much better results for the project we were working on, and in my job, I improved the quality of my reports and automated sheets.

From those courses I learned a lot, and discovered that Chris was also building a company, Maven Analytics. It was natural to follow him there. Once I discovered the great content and the value for money they were offering there was no further doubt. In August 2021, I enrolled for a full year subscription with Maven. I started looking at Excel and PowerBi since those tools were available at work as well. The platform is great, and the best assets for me, alongside the offering, are the badge system and the support of the Maven team along the way (they were always getting back to any message in a short time, always friendly and encouraging).

Choosing a data analyst bootcamp

Q: How did you eventually decide you wanted to pursue a data analyst bootcamp? Did you consider different programs? What were the factors that led you to choose Maven Analytics?

To have success in life, no matter how you define success, first you have to invest and believe in yourself. No one else will do that for you.

I had never considered a bootcamp. Didn't even have an idea what a bootcamp was or could be. But when Maven launched their first full time bootcamp, I was curious enough to research what this was all about. I watched stories of other students, asked questions, read about it and understood it could be the best way to transition into data analytics.

I had researched programs offered by other academic institutions (Harvard, Cambridge, MIT) but their scope was too generic, and the cost was extremely high.

I read some posts on the internet about other bootcamp, focusing on part time programs due to my job commitments, and I made a benchmark of costs v. quality/reviews among them.

Maven was (to me!) surprisingly not mentioned in those posts, but to me it seemed the best choice: I had taken courses, I “knew” the instructors and their attitude, I reviewed and connected on LinkedIn with some of their students which ALL had (and still have) a high esteem of the company, so it was natural for me to keep going with Maven, despite not being ranked among the “top bootcamps”.

The main factors that led me to choose this part-time bootcamp were: 1) value for money (you not only get the bootcamp, which was already an absolute deal, but also lifetime access to Maven Platform!), 2) student reviews in the highest mark, 3) quality of the courses, and 4) the interview with the instructors that convinced me that this was the program I wanted to be part of. There was no further guessing or any other option available!

The data analyst bootcamp experience

Q: How has the bootcamp gone so far? What have been your favorite parts? Is there anything that surprised you about the bootcamp experience? Anything you haven’t enjoyed?

I'll start with the surprises.

The most important courses in the bootcamp have been those, drumroll... less related to tools! Thinking like an Analyst and Launching Your Data Career have been the most important, as they provide you with the right mindset to then dive into the tools. Don’t get me wrong, you need to be good/excellent with at least one tool, but without understanding what is needed in different roles of analytics you are like a ship lost at sea.

For example, without understanding the business context, your magnificent dashboard will be useless to the business. And trust me, there is no worse way to end a meeting with your boss than seeing he has not understood your dashboard or charts.

Then, the sessions with previous students that already made the transition into data jobs: they inspired all the cohort and gave a perspective that despite your today’s situation (age, work status, location) the transition is doable and possible. And seeing a happy and excited person made me say: “I want to be that guy one day, possibly today!”

The bootcamp has been a great journey so far, I have met fantastic instructors and great students with whom I’m sure we will keep a lifelong contact. We students created our own group to review projects and help each other, and took responsibility in not only being driven by instructors but being independent and helpful to each other.

The projects have been a fundamental part to transition from study to data analysis. The comfort of the course is great, but you won't challenge yourself unless you start building your own projects!

Regarding the tools, I honestly loved all of them, but SQL was the surprise. I have never been much of a programmer but discovered I liked that, and the logic of SQL is great to be applied in a variety of tasks. Excel & Power Bi are the ones I’m focusing on, because I use them daily at work and seem the most “reusable” in the market. I will probably invest more time in these tools.

My favorite part has been the sense of belonging to a community, especially with instructors. All of them have been approachable and helpful at any time of day, even on holidays! And the sessions on building up the curriculum and the assistance with career transition. Again, hidden gems which you cannot value when you only look at the syllabus.

If I have to give a recommendation to improve the bootcamp, I’d say switch PowerBI with Tableau, having then an Excel-SQL-PowerBi-Tableau agenda, and add even more live sessions, mandatory to all students. Whether it is a huddle or a “full” live session, those are the moments where you can get ideas, inspiration, support and really learn.

Looking forward to a data analyst career

Q: After going deep with everything you are learning in the bootcamp, are you still excited about launching a career in data?

Excited? I’m totally fired up and the more I learn, the more I want to discover and apply. I just talk about data everyday now, even at home!

It’s not just the progress I can see and measure in dashboards or skills, it is mostly the perspective of opportunities that are opening in front of me that is exciting. I mean, I have been doing sales and product presentations my entire career. Now I see data analytics can be applied to almost anything in life, from sports to rocket science, from spending to risk management. The opportunities are endless.

I’m definitely hooked to transition into a full career in data.

Speaking of presentations, check our Marco's Tableau project:

What the ideal data analyst role looks like

Q: It sounds like you’ve chosen a career path that feels right for you. Can you describe the ideal role that you’ll be looking for after bootcamp graduation?

I’m very good at technical presentation and customer relations, thanks to personal skills and my job experiences. I also love studying and presenting solutions for business improvement, as well as marketing strategies.

Looking at the future, I see myself as a business consultant, business intelligence leader creating reports and dashboards to help my company and clients derive actionable insights, and produce growth thanks to data driven actions.

I worked extensively for manufacturing companies (small,medium and large size), having the chance to interact with all departments from logistics to production management, from product development to sales (which is my current role).

I have been appointed as a brand manager/ international trainer as well, giving technical presentations in different languages for staff and clients of companies I worked for. Communication skills are one of the best assets I can bring to the table. I’m keen to explore manufacturing (sales, product development, operations), general services, investment and tourism sectors. In all of them I see a lot of applications for data driven strategies. I prefer working with small to medium size companies, where you’re not just classified as a number, and can make a real difference in the organization.

As a citizen of the world, I currently reside and live in Italy, but I’m considering a move to the USA to further boost my experience and career. I have spent 2 years there, and love the approach to life and business overseas.

I think a mix of remote/online and onsite when needed is the best approach when it comes to narrowing down work options. Given the current situation, still facing some restrictions due to Covid, and the need to balance work/family/learning needs, it's surely the best option for me.

Connecting with Marco

Q: If our readers are interested in getting in touch with you, what is the best way for them to connect?

The best way is to shoot me a note on LinkedIn:

Marco's LinkedIn Profile

Please add a relevant message to introduce yourself! That’s not only being polite, it provides a personal touch to your request and will trigger an answer.

Alternatively, drop me a line to marco.michelini@casa-versilia.it

Wrapping up

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I hope hearing Marco's story has been relatable, and can give you some perspective that will be helpful to you on your own journey.

I am most looking forward to providing an update to this story in a couple of months, when I'm sure we will be sharing details about Marco's exciting new role.

Thanks for sharing your story Marco!

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