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My Career Journey: Animal Science to Data Analytics

I have been asked about how I got started in Analytics & Reporting and I love encouraging others to learn more about analytics, so I decided to make a blog post on my career journey! 

First, What is Analytics and Reporting? analytics is finding, reviewing and using data to answer business questions from "which of my products is more profitable?" to "what step in my business process is the slowest? most expensive? or has the most risk?". Answering questions like this allow businesses to become more efficient and make more money! 

Why do I like Analytics and Reporting? I love researching and learning things from watching documentaries to researching what kitchen appliance I want to buy (and for how much). This personality trait is great for researching and digging into different business processes to make and reason on decisions. 

I like analytics and reporting because it can be used in any industry and business, so I feel a lot of job security and confidence in my career type.

I moved from scientific research to data analytics with Transferable Skills! this is a skill that you've gained in one space that you want to apply "as a bridge" to another. In research I focused on creating an idea, developing a process to test it and then reviewing and sharing the results. This is the same process I use in data analytics, except my goal is to find why margins are low instead of why cookie icing is melting in transport. I had a problem; I found a way to test it and then communicate the results to management to solve the problem. Same process, same personal interest, new industry and new tools. 

Summary of My Career Path:

  • 2014 Graduated Penn State University with a BS in Animal Science from the College of Agriculture. I changed my major 3 times then landed on this Bio and Chem focused degree. 
  • After college I bounced back and forth between research roles and business/financial services. I was trying to "apply" my science degree (medical research and food science), but I found more advancement (and pay and less stress) in financial services and business roles.
  • My First Technical Analysis Role - I interviewed for a regulatory support role BUT they hired me to help reconcile client vs internal reporting that no one was able to solve (think research project management). I knew NOTHING about SQL or even general reporting, but I agreed to take the role because I needed the job. A developer in the tech department, personally taught me SQL so I could self-serve in our database. I completed this project, and they gave me more data reconciliation and operational research projects.
  • Over my next analytics roles, I jumped into any operational data projects to start learning data skills, use and tools. Most of my roles were in organizations with new processes and they needed something new developed and built. This gave me many of opportunities to stand out and be the data product owner for these new projects. This was key to me learning and having high impact, even early on in my career. Here's some of the projects I implemented: 
    • Building data sources/reports for operations - brining data visibility to help people do their jobs, easier.
    • Getting analytics/reports done with limited resources and constantly problem solving. A simple data set with high impact will go a long way.
    • Developing new reporting/KPIs and building standard reporting for many clients.
    • Learning about different business process (and the problems in them). As you experience more problems, even if you don't solve them, these stay in your brain to help you through future issues. 
My Current Role: Senior Data and Reporting Analyst - my role started with building WFM (workforce management) reports to manage production of sales agents, but it quickly grew into building out the reporting eco-system needed to report on WFM and other operational and financial projects. Today I have developed (and manage) 30+ operational reports, complex reconciliations, data application (for insights and efficiency gains) and teach others data use and process development principles. 

Are You Interested in a Data Analytics Career? 

Here are the top skills and tips I recommend if you are interested in Data Analytics & Reporting: 

  • The basics: have a passion for being resourceful and solving problems. General analytics is knowing how to set up and relate data to other data sources and then use data to answer questions.
  • Don't knock the basics. I use a ton of excel still, even with SQL and reporting software. Why? because many companies do not use "recent" data infrastructure. From your job to a B2B (business to business) partner, so many companies are using old systems OR even worse not prioritizing data standards, but you still have to get the data and use it. 
  • Learn data principles and standards, even if you are in a space where they are not always used, understanding these proactive keys will set you up for success and allow you to shine in your role. 
  • Even in the WFM (work from home) world, people skills and change management are so (if not more) important. If a business user doesn't trust you, they will not trust your report OR you trying to help them. Multi-business (foundational workers to executive) level communication is so important for setting up project expectations and the personal connections needed to learn how to get the data project done. 
  • Master's Degree vs Certificates - I do not have a master's (and I don't plan to get one) but I do have a certification. If you decide to do an education program, evaluate the Cost and ROI (return on investment ex. higher pay) expected. Ensure it's a reputable program and that it will earn you want you expect, experience, resource (networking connections) and pay wise. 

If you are trying to break into Data Analytics consider your transferable skills and if a certificate is needed to fill in any gaps. I also recommend reading a Data Analytics basics book, this will dive into the details of the role. Look for professional resume and job posting review help! many local libraries and career centers offer this for free!

Check out my Resume for reference, strongly consider READBILITY when you build yours. 

Here's my LinkedIn - Feel free to Add Me I am happy to review your resume and give a few items of feedback! Reach out via email at 

Good luck in your career path! You can find a job that you enjoy most of the time AND supports you.