WGU - A Journey to B.S. Data Management Data Analytics

WGU Bachelors of Science Data Management / Data Analytics

September 3, 2018
WGU - A Journey to B.S. Data Management Data Analytics

Early Career Walmart

My journey into Data Science started well before my understanding of the term.

At 19 years old I worked for Walmart as an Asset Protection Associate. Within a year I ultimately acquired the position of Asset Protection Manager where I would gain my first insight into the world of Data Science.

As an Asset Protection Manager I fulfilled many roles of management at the store level. Theft prevention, loss recovery and prevention,  internal investigation, and accident review and recovery were among those roles.

Particularly the Loss Recovery and Prevention role is where the majority of my Data Science Practice took place. At the time each week, month, and quarter the accounting office would deliver a shopping cart filled with files for me to investigate and review to determine where the store was losing money. This task was often referred to as Shrink Detection and Prevention

It was my responsibility to analyze these reports and determine where the store was potentially losing money. I would then report that information to my Market Asset Protection Manager. After my first year I became intimately acquainted with the documentation and review process and begin to explore the data further.

I often wondered, What causes a particular department to repeat patterns of loss? Even more so how can I predict a department's loss and correct an issue prior to is showing in the delivered reports.

I would then spend the next two to three years  apply predictive analytics to the shrink patterns in my store and ultimately began applying those same patterns on a larger scale of data. The larger scale of data consisted of other stores within the market, which generally consisted of 15 or more stores. I then increased the scale by reviewing data at the regional (state), and division (multiple states within a geographic region) level.

I was successful at detected shrink prior to yearly audits. 

Still not having an understanding that this practice was referred to as Data Analytics or Data Science, I knew that this particular part of my career I most certainly enjoyed. I have always been excited to use math and statistics to solve business problems.

New Career at Simpleview

In 2013 I started a new career as a CMS Developer. Starting my programming career at Simpleview was very exciting as this is the first time I worked for a company outside of freelance writing code full-time. 

Although the position didn't require a high level of skill in math and science I still enjoyed the level of excitement I achieved while writing code. About 2 years into my career at Simpleview I migrated to the Digital Marketing department where I began working as an Analytics Solutions Developer. 

The Digital Marketing department consists of multiple subdivisions under one rough. One of those divisions consists of a small developer team that provides services and solutions to the other departments as well as other departments within the company.

In this new role I would engage in Digital Marketing solutions that includes support to the Business Intelligence department as well as the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) department.

For the past 3 years I have had the privilege to work with an amazing team to produce data driven solutions for multiple departments within the company

Education

I started my education by focusing on Mobile Application Development at Northern Arizona University. Having spent nearly 3.5 years at the university I transferred to a satellite campus in Tucson Arizona. This is around the time I left Walmart and began working for Simpleview.

After transitioning to Simpleview I realized at the time my pursuit for a Bachelors of Science in Mobile Application Development would potentially be useless at Simpleview since they did not have a Mobile Development department at the time. 

I elected to improve my education by changing my degree to Software Engineering. I then spent 2 more years focusing my studies on Software Engineering. It wasn't until 2016-2017 that I realized my role as an Analytics Solution Engineer would soon be shaped into a Data Analytics / Data Science role. 

In 2017 Western Governors University announced a new program titled Data Analytics / Data Management, where students would pursue a degree that is Data Science focused. 

Having already switched my degree at least twice I spent the entirety of my Christmas break in 2017 reviewing the possibility of switching my degree for a third time. With my passion, dedication, and love for Data Science I discussed this idea with my wife and came to the conclusion that switching my degree to Data Science would be most beneficial and rewarding in the future.

Now a year later I have reached the last stretch of a very extended bachelors degree and I am very proud and grateful for the knowledge I have acquired over the years.

Bringing it all Together

My time in study for the Software Engineering program has most certainly allowed me to acquire the skills necessary to fulfill my role as a programmer, while also honing in skills that would later be needed as a Data Scientist.

The mobile development program allowed me to solve problems in a world where consumer engagement is the number 1 focus. This is especially beneficial to the Digital Marketing world.

Finally decision to pursue Data Science at Western Governors University will be a decision that drives success in my future as I evolve as a Data Scientist.

Closing

My journey to become a Data Scientist is still evolving at the years go on, however as I reflect on the decisions I've made over the years I can stand proudly on the foundation I have constructed. With little knowledge about the Data Science community prior to it's boom in 2016 it was difficult to see that this was the career for me.

I remain humble and grateful for the opportunities that were afforded to me over the years that would inevitability guide me in the direction of data driven technology.

As my hunger and desire to evolve as a Data Scientist increase I plan to continue my education by attending Western Governors University's Masters of Science in Data Analytics program immediately after the successful completion of my Bachelors of Science in Data Management / Data Analytics.

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