After earning a degree in wildlife ecology, Rane Najera-Wynne decided to keep his summer job at his uncle’s construction company, where he installed fire and sprinkler systems at commercial and residential properties. “I liked the work, but at some point I wanted to take on a new challenge,” he said. “I was getting a little complacent.”
Rane had always been interested in fantasy sports. He started digging deeper into the statistics behind fantasy football betting so he could beat his buddies, which led him to take a free Intro to Python course online. “That was what put me on the trajectory to discovering Springboard and changing my career,” said Rane.
Now he’s a few months into his new role as a data analyst at BRIDGE, a people-based marketing platform. “I never thought that I would go from installing sprinkler systems to working on computers, but I just really put my head down and got to work and made it happen,” he said.
I just wanted to get an advantage on my buddies who were super competitive about fantasy football. During the intro course I learned a lot about Python, how to build machine learning models and make predictions. I ended up beating my buddies and taking their money. I used my winnings to pay for the Springboard course.
Even as a young kid, I would always try to use statistics to prove one basketball player is better than another. I love how data can tell a story once you delve into it. Data science was attractive to me because I wanted to be able to derive deeper insights from data and tell stories that aren’t always apparent at the outset.
It was definitely more difficult than I thought it would be. There were plenty of times I wanted to throw my laptop out the window just like a Frisbee. But I wanted to take on a challenge and learn something new. It was very frustrating, but once you solve that problem, it's so rewarding. All that hard work pays off.
Take advantage of the mentorship Springboard offers. If you are facing an obstacle, all you need to do is request a meeting with a mentor and you have a qualified data scientist who is willing to talk to you and figure out an answer to your question. I had to learn how to take advantage of these resources, but once I did, it definitely made a difference in my learning curve.
I really liked Springboard’s job guarantee. Springboard’s goal is to help me find a job and make money, while my goal is to get a job so I can pay for the course. The number-one thing for me was knowing that my goals were aligned with Springboard's goals and that we were both invested in getting me a job in the data science field, which is what I wanted.
Initially, my role involved cleaning and ingesting data to prepare it for analysis. However, since joining the team I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of the data analysis myself, which I really enjoy. I’ve also worked on one data science project already, which is what I want to focus on in the future. I took this role knowing I would be able to learn a lot and eventually get experience in other areas like analytics or data engineering.
Other than just working your butt off, which is something I had to do, learn how to advocate for yourself. I felt like I had the skills I needed to succeed, but I didn't know the best way to convey those skills to the hiring manager.
Springboard helped me nail down my portfolio projects, which was really attractive to prospective employers, and they provided me with a career coach who helped me nail down my answers to interview questions. My mentor helped me make my resume more impressive. So it’s a combination of one, building the skills, and then, two, learning how to convey your skills and value to employers.
I’ve always been passionate about sports analytics, so my first capstone project was a predictive model for fantasy football. When I interviewed at BRIDGE, the hiring manager happened to be a fan of fantasy football. When I mentioned my capstone project, I knew I had gotten their full attention. When it comes to capstone projects, find something you’re passionate about because that gives you the motivation to keep improving it.
It’s not easy, so make sure data science is something you’re passionate about. I set a goal for myself that I wanted to learn a few programming languages and land a full-time job, and I just stuck with that goal. There’s no secret formula. Just surround yourself with people who will support and motivate you. Springboard gave me a great support system to set me up for success.
My mentor was Kenneth Gil-Pasquel [senior data scientist at Boehringer-Ingelheim]. We really connected. I feel like I've made a friend who is there to support me and wants to see me succeed. While it's great to have someone very smart who will answer your questions, it was also an added benefit that I had someone who was in my corner, who wanted to see me succeed, and who was with me on the journey to help me reach my goals. He also instilled in me the idea that I have a responsibility to do good with my knowledge of data, which was inspiring.
I'm not sure yet. I'm pretty new in the data field, so I'm willing to clean any data set that's thrown my way, but in the future, who knows? I'm just going to take it day by day and learn what I can, but I hope that one day it will lead to a career in healthcare or medicine where I can help people using data.
I would not be a data analyst today if not for Springboard. They helped me and supported me on my journey. I had to put in the work, but they made the path so much easier such that if you do A, B, and C, then you'll be set up for success. It probably would have taken five years to learn data science on my own, but Springboard made it very easy for me to achieve my goals.
Find out what area of data you're passionate about. For me, that was sports analytics. If you’re passionate about data, then set your mind to it and you can accomplish your goals. I was working in construction. I never thought that after starting this course, I would go from installing sprinkler systems to working on computers, but I just really put my head down and got to work and made it happen.