I feel lucky to be part of the data revolution happening around us. Because of the attention and the focus on Analytics / Big Data, there are quite a few people considering a late career switch.
I get quite a few queries asking my advice on this matter regularly. Here are a few samples (after removing names):
I am an equity analyst (finance background) and have 10+ years experience. I don’t have any background in IT. I have a background in chemical technology (BE) and MBA finance.
After all these years and entirely different background; how easy/difficult is to pursue fresh career in these areas – Analytics and Big data. Will there be opportunities for such diverse background on immediate and Long term basis.
Here is another one:
I have 6+ years of experience in IT consulting, none of them is related to Analytics. But I want to move into analytics. Is there a way to do that? Please advise.
Yet another one:
I came across this site as a part of my quest to change my career track. I have 10 years of experience , out of which last 5 years is in institutional relationship management cum acquisition in banking sector. Prior to that I have 1.5 years sales experience in FMCG sales. I have done MBA(mktg) and B.E. Please guide me,
1. Would my existing profile be adaptable to career in business analytics?
2. How easy (or difficult) it would be to get job in business analytics?
3. Which course and from which institute would relatively assure me of a job immediately in analytics?
Hence, I thought of expressing my thoughts for the benefit of a bigger audience. Also, through discussion with other people in this domain, I am hoping to pull in broader views on the subject.
Please note that rest of this article assumes that you are looking for a hands on core analytics role (where you analyze the data yourself) and not a supporting role (e.g. Pre-Sales for Analytics products, Business development for a consultancy)
- The rosy picture (recruiters running behind you) you thought, would be at least 3 – 5 years away. The first few years would be very arduous. More so, if you don’t need to be an Individual Contributor in your current role.
- Analytics / Big data is a knowledge intensive domain. You can do well only if you gain knowledge and work hard regularly.
- A lot of good companies believe in hiring smart people straight out of college and training them internally. These Organization would not think about hiring you.
- In an ideal world, there should be no bias against people with experience. They should be judged only on the knowledge and skills they possess and their willingness to learn / work. Sadly, this is not true. A career shift (especially late in career) is often looked suspiciously, until you have received outstanding recognition in your previous roles.
The answer depends on the domain of your experience:
- Non technical experience will not count in your analytics jobs – the only benefit you might get is that the interviewer can expect you to be more mature with your thought process / decision.
- Technical experience (programming / SQL / server) gets counted, but will only be considered as equivalent of 1 – 2 years experience.
- Consulting / research would count more. May not be counted 100%, but healthy fraction would be considered.
Well, bake in any where between 3 months to a couple of years depending on your learning agility, problem solving skills, communication and presentation skills. If you are outstanding on these attributes, you should get a job as soon as you get some technical skills under your belt. An average person typically takes 6 – 12 months after gaining necessary technical skills. If you take any thing more than 12 months, you should try and re-assess what is going wrong.
P.S. This would vary from geography to geography. The above answer is applicable in markets where there is big un-fulfilled need of analysts.
In case you are absolutely sure, here are the next steps:
- Join a course on basics of data science on Coursera / eDX to get first hand flavor of being an analyst. Here are some good courses:
- Make sure you do all the assignments. This is your chance to get the experience first hand.
- Subscribe to some of these blogs / communities to regularly read about the subject:
- Be a part of Linkedin Groups related to analytics –
Once you have followed these blogs / communities for a while (say at least a month after your course at Coursera), you can look out for certification courses to begin your journey.
If you are not in deep love with data and can not spend hours slicing and dicing data in front of a computer, analytics may not be your cup of tea.
Take this up only if you tick all the boxes below:
- You are absolutely crazy about this industry. You can’t help but analyze any numbers you come across – I play with numbers on the number plate of any vehicle which passes me.
- You have undergone a few courses on Coursera / eDX and have excelled at them. You have submitted all the assignments and have scored extremely well.
- You have the perseverance and motivation to undergo 2 – 3 years of arduous work learning about a new knowledge intensive domain.
- You are willing to spend a lot of time as Individual Contributor
Lastly, if you have family support in this move / decision, it will make the move less painful (or more enjoyable depending on the way you look at).
P.S. The aim of this article is not to dissuade people wanting to join Analytics Industry. I know a lot of people, who made this switch in middle of their career and they have not been more happier in their career ever before! Their passion for analytics and numbers comes across even if you spend 5 minutes talking to them.