Data Analytics Career; where to start?

This article is more about a career in analytics and a strategy to know if you would like to pursue it. I often get this question from people who want to start working in Analytics. A career is something a person should be passionate about to be able to progress and continue in it successfully. My passion is linking strategy and operations to finance and analytics. Having said that, in 2013 I didn’t know what a career in Analytics would be like.

My journey with analytics started in my MBA, I was doing a consulting internship and my client asked how to utilise big data. Have to admit, had no idea what they were speaking about at that time, I went to research it and literally didn’t sleep that night. Started reading about analytics and got completely hooked on it. Changed my MBA focus, dropped subjects and decided to do a dissertation instead building a framework for Strategic Big Data Implementation in companies. Moved to London and interviewed big multinationals to understand their journey. Interviewed executives and directors to understand their careers too. And if you wonder about my client, they extended my contract and I delivered three projects instead of one!

To be able to start let me share with you the definition of Data Analytics, this will allow you to stand on solid grounds before you start your analytics journey. Big data analytics according to SAS is “Big data analytics examines large amounts of data to uncover hidden patterns, correlations and other insights. With today’s technology, it’s possible to analyze your data and get answers from it almost immediately – an effort that’s slower and less efficient with more traditional business intelligence solutions.” In my opinion, this definition applies to all data big and small if we can say small.

Now, lets first agree that analytics as a word is often confused with Data Science, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Data Engineering and Architecture, RPA, Blockchain, Visualisation and more. Some of those areas are part of the data analytics function in companies, while you can find them as their own function in others. This adds to the confusion when people think about having analytics as a career. Yeah, there are many new fancy terms out there, so my suggestion as a first step would be to actually go and speak to people working in those areas and understand what they do. This will give you the understanding of what your options are.

Ask them questions like:

  • What their day is like
  • How did they have this career path
  • Why do they have passion for their area
  • What are the challenges they face
  • How do they continuously learn and what are the resources out there

People working in an area are the best to speak about it, they will give you more insights. Just make sure you do your homework before speaking to them. Know which discipline they are in and research it before your chat.

Even within all those areas there are more specialisation, things like agile project management and technical tools. Once you collect the information start to know which areas appeal to you and do more research online. There are many online courses which are free in terms of money but expensive in terms of investing your time.

There are so many areas within Data Analytics, make sure to find what you are passionate about and it will not be an issue to commit. If you have passion for it, you will easily commit the time and effort. The field requires continuous development, reading and being always up to data.

Let me know how your analytics career exploration goes, enjoy the journey!

SAS ref: https://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/analytics/big-data-analytics.html

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