It’s been over a year since I started my first full-time job in the US: Data Analyst at Penn State—where I recently earned my degree. Doctor.

Viewing: What is data analysis

At first when I started this job, I just thought this was a normal office job, nothing too “sexy”???? So rarely share on the blog. However, more and more young people—both Vietnamese and foreign—are asking me about this profession. The vacancies for this industry also seem to have grown exponentially in the past year, demonstrating the growing attraction and demand for the Data Analytics profession. Even after working for a while, I understand better about this job and love it more than when I just got the job.

Therefore, this article analyzes the five biggest aspects of this profession, from my point of view and practical experience, including: (1) What is Data Analyst, (2) My journey to this profession, (3) Essential skills for the job, (4) Experience to be a good Data Analyst, and (5) Tips for preparing a competitive profile for the Data Analyst position.

A small note before reading: In the process of writing the article, I have consulted a lot of sources in both English and Vietnamese, surveyed many Data Analyst vacancies in many different job categories in different countries. to write an objective, general, and most applicable article. However, due to the fact that the industry is relatively new and each job category has different requirements, a small article cannot cover all positions. Therefore, the information below is for reference only and readers should research, explore, and verify the information for themselves.

My Journey to Data Analyst

First, I have to admit that Data Analyst is not my “dream job”, at least in the sense that I dream of working, practicing skills for exams, and dedicated to application. recruited for this position. To be more precise, it’s almost like the “rush of life” brought me to the career of Data Analyst.

I started looking for a full-time job in the US while I was in the process of writing my doctoral thesis (not yet graduated) because I wanted to have a job when I graduated, not fall into a situation of playing with unemployment. Moreover, going to work is also a solution to help me get out of the house and back to myself after the stressful time of giving birth to my first child. Since my background is in education research, I initially thought I would continue my academic career as a lecturer, scientist, or post-doc. However, the academic recruitment market is extremely limited and highly competitive, so opportunities are few; Also, if I got the job, I would most likely have to move to another state/city—something I didn’t want to do at the time because my children were so young. Therefore, I decided to step out of my “comfort zone” to apply for other jobs than originally planned but in the city I live in.

That’s when I happened to see the vacancies for the position of Data Analyst at Penn State University.

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The job announcement only briefly states that one person is needed for the position of Higher Education Data Analyst. Requires a minimum of a university degree, has skills in data management, mining and analysis, making reports to help make decisions based on scientific data. In addition to the usual data analysis work, this position also works with the school’s capacity assessment project to find solutions to improve teaching activities and student services. (Almost like Data Analystics + Evaluation/Assessment)

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the US, I work from home 100% without any problems thanks to remote desktop technology and the habit of backing up data to the cloud.

Experience to become a good Data Analyst

In the process of working in my position and collaborating with other Data Analysts on and off campus, I have learned a few unique things that can turn you from a “normally average” Data Analyst to a very good one. .

I myself do not consider myself a superstar, but by applying the following lessons learned, in the first year of my work, I was assessed at the “exceptional” level—the level of excellence. highest price in the Penn State system.

In my experience, to become a good Data Analyst, you need the following 5 things:

1. Become an expert in your narrow field: An average Data Analyst is someone who knows how to spread everything, knows a bit of everything, but a good Data Analyst is someone who knows less but knows a lot about his field doing.

For example, my current position is at a College (Schreyer Honors College) affiliated with Penn State; So, the more I do, the more I narrow my focus from the general college metric, to the Penn State metric, and finally to the College specific metric, and then continues to break it down into units like Academics, Student Affairs… The narrower your area of ​​focus, the more expert you become, and the more you strengthen your position at work. Once you become an expert, there are things only you know and only you can do, and because of that, you can’t be easily replaced.

2. Take time to observe and learn before embarking on “action”. When starting a new job, everyone is enthusiastic, wants to change everything in their own way, wants to put their own seal. However, this is not necessarily a good thing for a good Data Analyst because as written, to do a good job, you need to understand the context and history of the data. If you do a lot of internal/in-house data and are related to capacity assessment like me, you have to spend more time observing and learning from colleagues and those who have gone before you. when expressing an opinion that you want to change something.

I once told, one of the “drama” I encountered when recruiting for this position was that my colleagues were cautious because they were worried that they would be judged by me through the performance indicators. But from the beginning, I assured them that I came here to learn, not to judge anyone. During the process of working, I observe and ask a lot of marketer questions to gain trust from my colleagues, making it easier for them to open up and share their difficulties and hardships at work—this is valuable data. best!

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3. Be very careful when sharing data, always put data security first. This is extremely important for anyone who works with data because data looks emotionless, aimless but in the hands of someone with bad intentions can become very “sensitive”. In fact, a lot of people, despite being good at their craft, miss out on this crucial issue.

Returning to the topic of “drama”, my predecessor once did a student survey about the school’s activities, a few students gave negative feedback, naming teachers and school officials. Instead of keeping information confidential and exchanging directly with superiors, this person “quickly” shared these feedbacks with teachers and officials with names. That was the main reason why my predecessor was forced to quit his job less than half a year.

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Never, never let yourself make this fatal mistake!

4) Working with both quantitative and qualitative data: Thinking of Data Analyst, many people only think of numbers (quantitative) but if you want to become a good Data Analyst, you should master both analytical skills. data in the form of words (qualitative). Because real-world data, especially those with depth, are often in the form of a mix of both quantitative and qualitative. If you can do both, you’ll give yourself a better competitive edge, generate more multidimensional analysis, and collaborate more with more people on a variety of projects.

5) Telling the “story” behind the data: Data Analyst is essentially you turning complex data sets into simple, understandable, highly applicable conclusions. Therefore, in order to become a good Data Analyst, you should not only bury your head in the addition and subtraction calculator… but should practice skills in conveying attractive information, telling the “story” behind the data in a way. persuasion through spoken language (presentations) or written language (reports, scientific research).

Anyone can calculate, but the difference between the average person and the good person is the ability to present thoughts and interpretations beyond the usual dry numbers. This is also a good skill for any industry, not just Data Analyst.

Prepare a competitive profile for the position of Data Analyst

If Data Analyst is your “dream job”, here are some of my suggestions so you can prepare now to have a competitive resume:

Have a solid understanding of basic math. As written, you don’t have to be a math superstar, but basic knowledge such as descriptive statistics, regression, tabulation, t-test, chi-square… you should know and do well. Find out specifically the position you want. do usually require and prepare for each of those requirements. As written, each Data Analyst position has different requirements for disciplines, skills, and knowledge. So, if you know what industry you want to work in or specifically what organization-company, you should look at the job postings they have posted (e.g. on LinkedIn) to see what their skills requirements are. . For example, my current position only requires knowledge of Excel, SQL, SPSS or Stata, and a qualitative analysis software like NVivo. But in other places, in other job categories may require R, Python… So, knowing in advance what you want to improve in advance will help you have a much more competitive profile. Always show humility, forward-thinking, inquisitive: In your CV, cover letter, as well as in job interviews, you shouldn’t brag about your skills and knowledge (something I’ve seen in many other people). Data Analyst interview). You should just say Just enough, concise about what I know, listen to the interviewer to understand more about the job situation, and clearly show the spirit of learning and seeking. Even if you’re already a metric superstar, whenever you enter a new environment and come across a new set of metrics, you have to start all over again. As a former recruiter, I always keep in mind that what makes you the most “competitive” is your personality and qualities, not necessarily your qualifications, skills, or what you show on your website. papers.

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Hopefully, the above article gives you the most general and realistic view of the Data Analyst profession. As I confessed from the beginning, Data Analyst is not my “dream job” and it is not certain that I will stick with this job for the rest of my life. However, after a year of working, I have learned a lot of useful things that can be immediately applied in daily life.

For example, because I’m familiar with data, I’m more interested in the data report of this very blog to find out what topics The Present Writer likes the most, or what time of the week, is it male or female. , where do you live… to develop the blog in a way that is more suitable for readers. Also thanks to a faster number mind, I manage my personal finances better and better understand some new financial models (eg FIRE) to invest in my future.

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Therefore, I believe that even if you do not decide to be a Data Analyst, some skills and knowledge of this profession can also help you to develop more quickly, more creatively in the work you are doing.

Be Present,

Chi Nguyen

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