Mike Marshall felt it was time to make some changes in his life. While working as a sales engineer in Washington, D.C. he realized he had hit a ceiling in advancement. He knew, without a bachelor’s degree, he needed to retool and find a way to boost his marketability with new skills.
He had gained some experience with measurements and metrics during his eight years in sales, and was interested in breaking into the world of business intelligence. He chose GW’s Data Analytics Boot Camp for the intensive curriculum designed to teach the technical skills he needed to analyze and solve real world data problems in just 24 weeks.
He had researched the job market and knew that the skills he would gain through the Boot Camp would help him be able to work anywhere in the country. He was hoping to improve his overall quality of life through career advancement, as well as being able to relocate his family to an area with a lower cost of living, less stress and a shorter commute.
He enrolled in the Boot Camp and found it a fast-paced and challenging curriculum, despite his previous experience and his natural aptitude for learning new technologies. He had minimal experience with HTML and Java, and little formal instruction in coding—so each lesson represented a new challenge. “I was really new to some of the mathematical concepts, as well as programming and Python, so it was a lot of new information to take in and learn despite feeling an initial leg up,” Mike said. However, with the help of his instructors and TAs, Mike was able to tackle difficult projects head-on. Before long, other students were coming to him for assistance with their work.
“My favorite part was seeing how the parts of the Boot Camp built on each other, like the Python and Java skills I used to develop a website project tracking busses as they moved along their routes throughout the city.” The project, inspired by the hectic Washington, D.C. traffic, ended up being a challenge technically and professionally. He was able to speak to overcoming the project’s challenges in interviews during his job search.
“One of the things the Boot Camp gave me was an understanding of how to learn and knowing that learning is continuous,” said Mike.
The proud Boot Camp graduate is now working as a Business Intelligence Analyst for Van Holten’s Pickles in Madison, Wisconsin. He applied for another position at the company, but they were so excited about his skill set they created this position just for him.
As their tech lead and the first ever business analyst, he is using data analytics and technology to better understand business cycles and minimize manual reporting. He is using data to reduce downtime in production, improve efficiencies and plan maintenance. He is also working closely with the sales department to share data and improve company performance using the power of data analytics.
Did the Boot Camp meet his expectations? He was looking for career advancement. He was looking for a better overall quality of life for himself and his wife. He found both in his new role running the tech department for a pickle factory in Wisconsin.
As a longer-term goal, he is still planning to complete his undergraduate degree in computer science, because as he put it, not having one puts him at a disadvantage in the job market.