Student success story: Colin Jackson

by | Sep 12, 2022

Colin Jackson graduated with a Master’s in International Business from Georgia State University in 2016. After graduation, he found an opportunity to work for a small tech startup in Atlanta as a fraud prevention specialist. 

“My role was very entry-level, and I wanted more for myself, so I began to shadow the data analysts employed at my company. I knew that if I wanted to get a higher-paying job at my organization, I needed to learn data analytics. But the pivotal moment that pushed me to take a certificate program was when a new coworker that graduated with me landed a BI analyst role at my company.”

Despite taking self-paced courses to learn how to use MySQL and Tableau, Colin wanted to invest in a program showing his proficiency and skill level. 

“I began looking for business and data analytics programs and found the Tableau Data Analytics Program through Pathstream, which checked all the boxes. The syllabus covered everything I needed to know, it was through a prestigious Atlanta university, and it was online so that I could fit it into my schedule as a working professional.” 

When we asked Colin about his learning experience with Pathstream, he said,

“I was fortunate enough to have a work schedule that allowed me the flexibility to dedicate time to the program. The professors were constantly communicating with me. The success coaches created a plan for us to follow so we could stay on track, but if anything were to go wrong and I missed a deadline, Pathstream worked with me. The courses were challenging, but the way Pathstream set up the program enabled you to thrive. The content was a mix of video and text you could go through independently. But, the labs and projects were the most important part of the courses for me. For example, once you’ve gone through the lessons and started a lab, you can quickly identify your knowledge gaps and go back to re-learn the information. Additionally, the projects forced you to apply what you learned to real-world business situations and strengthened your analytical skills.” 

After completing the business and data analytics program, Colin took advantage of career services. He updated his LinkedIn profile and improved his interview skills. 

“I got promoted to the risk management department while enrolled in the business and data analytics program. But this role didn’t require me to use much of my data analytic skills. I used some SQL, and I was able to run some solid queries. Luckily, my new manager reviewed my resume and saw that I was taking data courses. Once I graduated from the program, I shared this news with my manager, who immediately changed my role. He connected me with data scientists that worked in risk management. From there, I began to run more queries, assist and run daily processes, which included exporting information from Tableau into Jupyter Notebook or using Snowflake. Then when a data analyst left, I was shortly promoted to a senior risk management role and took on ad hoc reporting. As a result, I provided more feedback and implemented changes to improve our dashboards and processes.”

When we asked Colin what he thought about employers who invested in data analytics upskilling opportunities for their people, he said,

“Employers that upskill their workforces are both building more talented, efficient teams, and demonstrating a commitment to the professional growth of their employees. This creates an environment in which employees across the organization are excited to put their new skills into play and find new innovative solutions. A solid data skillset can not only separate an employee from their peers; it’s also a good indicator of an individual who is constantly learning and seeking to add value to their teams. I believe that it’s necessary for employers to seek out employees who have taken the extra step to explore data analysis, even if at the foundational level.”

Colin’s professional success story highlights the value individuals can add to their teams:

“A big turning point for me was when we had a significant fraud incident occur at work. One of my colleagues was less technical but noticed patterns on some accounts she encountered. So I ran a query that pulled user IDs that fit the description. This put a spotlight on me and helped me professionally. I was able to present that example during interviews and put it on my resume and LinkedIn profile.”

Colin is now a Senior Associate in Cyber, Risk, and Regulatory at Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC). 

“In my new role, I get to apply some of the technical skills I learned from the program, like cleaning up a lot of data and pivot tables. But, we’re focused on the concept of data story-telling as consultants. So I have the advantage of knowing how to present because of the Data Analytics Certificate Program. I’ll take the data and build it into an easier-to-understand slide deck or report where I pull out the actionable insights our stakeholders need.” 

Colin’s final piece of advice:

“First, pace yourself during the course. Assess your schedule and dedicate time to learning the course materials and working on projects. Second, don’t be afraid to ask questions because there are many resources, from professors to office hours. If you come up against a roadblock, you don’t understand what a question on a project is asking you to do. Ask immediately. Don’t waste your time searching on Google for the answer. Your professors are responsive and fast.” 

Are you aware that your employer can pay for you to learn data analytics skills? 

Yes, you heard that right! You can achieve the same success as our graduates and save money by looking into your employer’s education benefits program! Your employer might offer to cover the program’s total costs, tuition assistance, or tuition reimbursement. Don’t miss out on mastering data skills to level up at work! 

Find out if you’re eligible today by speaking to our team

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