How I Became a Data Person

How I Became a Data Person

First, I went to college and got an art degree in painting.

Then I waited tables. I did begin to notice trends. Trends I wish I didn’t notice. When you are a server, you become very aware of how predictable our ordering habits are.

Next, I started at a temp agency. I did so poorly on the computer test that I was only qualified to answer phones. Eventually, they hired me but my job was primarily offline. The work only took me around two hours to do each day. That left me six hours to look busy. Looking busy all day is still the hardest job I’ve ever done. I started playing around in the database making copies of the one query I was allowed access to and slowing adding and altering fields to figure out what it did.

I switched jobs again, still in an administration role, with limited need to use any data. At this organization, the database was imploding and most of the folks who knew anything had quit or were overwhelmed. In order to get the data I needed from the system, I tracked down the old query the once functioning data team had run for me and changed the date ranges. Eventually, I figured out how to get what I needed and started doing the same for other folks whose work depended on it.

By now I was four years out of college and just learning SQL by reading a book and eventually learned to do more than just pull data. My point is you don’t have to have a degree to call yourself a data person or any other type of person. If you are interested enough in the subject to struggle with it for a while, that’s the person you are qualified to be.

What do you struggle with in your free time?




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