He’d worked as a business systems analyst at his company for almost three years. Then the layoffs came, and, along with his peers, Zachary Grinacoff suddenly found himself back on the job market. While on the hunt for his next position, he made it to the last round of many interviews, but struggled to secure a final offer. He soon learned that to find a job that would make him happy, he didn’t just need to take a new approach, he needed to explore a new industry.
To push things over the finish line and launch himself into the field of data analytics, Zachary would have to make himself more marketable — and that meant acquiring a whole new skill set.
Taking the leap and rising to the challenge
Zachary knew he was interested in data analytics and wanted to give himself a competitive edge, but he wasn’t sure at first whether to pursue a master’s degree or to enroll in an accelerated boot camp. Drawn by the small classroom sizes, broad curriculum, robust career services, and affordable cost, he ultimately chose The Data Analytics Boot Camp at UCI Continuing Education and hasn’t looked back since.
From the very beginning, the boot camp was a challenge, requiring Zachary and his classmates to learn a lot of information at a fast pace. With an undergraduate degree in political economy and no technical coding experience, a majority of the curriculum was also completely new to Zachary.
Fortunately, with dedicated instructors and teaching assistants by his side to help him scale the steep learning curve, the challenge was one that he was ready to meet.
Turning new skills into functional projects
Before long, Zachary wasn’t just learning new skills, he was mastering them and putting them to use in group projects.
Over the course of the boot camp, Zachary collaborated with his classmates to build multiple projects and apps that addressed serious, real-world issues. One project, built using Python and Pandas, analyzed FBI data to conduct a study on hate crimes in Washington, D.C. For another project, he and his teammates created a functional dashboard app to visualize predictions for customer churn.
By taking the practical skills he was learning in the classroom and applying them to functional projects — analyzing important data and generating crucial business projections — Zachary began to see where his newfound technical abilities could take him in the marketplace.
Building a new community
Born and raised in New York, Zachary moved to California after college to work as a Business Systems Analyst. But even after a few years on the West Coast, he was eager to plant stronger roots in California, both personally and professionally. In the boot camp, he found himself surrounded by other learners with similar passions. And sharing the fast-paced, rigorous boot camp experience with a classroom full of other students who were also passionate about data, he found exactly that.
On Demo Day, Zachary had the opportunity to showcase his projects in-person to local industry leaders and fellow boot camp peers. In group projects, he had the chance to build friendships and partnerships with his classmates. And after it was suggested to him by a teaching assistant, he even got involved with a local data conference, PyData, in Los Angeles — which he remains involved with to this day.
“The boot camp was an excellent opportunity to meet people with similar interests who are also curious about data,” Zachary said. “Coming out to California, I hardly knew anybody, but the boot camp introduced me to people that were interested in the same tools and technology, many people I’m still in touch with today.”
Looking to the future
Zachary proactively tapped into the boot camp’s career services arm, gaining support on everything from writing a stand-out professional summary to learning how to nail the interview. After actively searching for a month, his efforts culminated with three job offers in less than two weeks. With multiple options to choose from, he ultimately accepted an offer working as a BI (business intelligence) data analyst at TEKsystems, an information technology and services company.
In a professional world that’s rapidly changing, Zachary is pleased to have a secure job that he can perform remotely. He also works as a substitute boot camp tutor in his spare time. In the future, he wants to hone his skills and dive deeper into the field he’s already been able to master broadly through the boot camp.
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