I've worked for about 10+ years in non-tech jobs that did not play to my strengths. I've also earned academic degrees that were interesting but so far not fruitful. I'd like to identify whether analytics or customer insights analysis is a good direction for me to follow? It's an interest area I've explored a bit but my questions are:
How do I figure out if it's a good fit for me? And if it's a good fit for me, which tech skill(s) should I pick up first? What's a good place to begin?
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If you have some free time on nights and weekends, I highly recommend you check out Udacity.
Here is a link to the Data Analyst Nanodegree: https://www.udacity.com/course/data-analyst-nanodegree--nd002
You can do the individual courses at your own pace and for free. If you complete those 5-7 courses, you will have a decent understanding of the data analysis field and whether you find that type of work interesting. You will probably need a basic understanding of the Python programming language. So check out their intro course or go over to Codeacademy.
If you find you want to dig deeper, check out Peaks Academy (www.peaksacademy.com). They are a newly launched Data Science bootcamp. They are fully remote and have a part-time schedule. The target demographic is working professionals who can commit time during nights and weekends, but do not want to quit their job and do an in-person bootcamp.
I have suggestions for a few books you can read to gauge your interest in the analytics and consumer insights area. The first book is my own, called "Numbersense: how to use big data to your advantage" (McGraw Hill). This book covers a wide range of examples of how data analyses impact our lives; I have a full section of the book dedicated to marketing case studies - since I spent 15 years in marketing analytics myself. Another book that is good is Ian Ayres' "Supercrunchers". Also, I'd recommend reading Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight blog as well as Michael Lewis' Moneyball. If you enjoy these books, it's a good indication that this field is made for you.
Everyone asks about technical skills but most hiring managers in this field care more about your non-technical skills. That is because it's easier to learn coding - much harder to teach someone how to interpret data in the business context, and generate insights that can impact the business goals. So I highly encourage you to look at the full slate of knowledge that hiring managers require.
In terms of technical skills, the most important is SQL. After that, it is a statistical software package such as R and SAS. For analytics and insights roles, don't underestimate Excel, and Powerpoint/Keynote. Your ability to influence key decision-makers is really important.
I am founder of Principal Analytics Prep, a bootcamp that is aimed at helping people like yourself transition your career into an analytics role within a business unit such as marketing, finance, operations and HR. We offer a much broader curriculum that most bootcamps - not just coding. Also, our instructors are highly tenured, typically in director level or above positions at a well-known business so they have large professional networks. Check us out, and contact me if you have any questions.