For a long time, Abraham Jones knew very little about tech. In his eyes, working on Excel spreadsheets was essentially the same thing as coding.
That may sound strange, considering his current success in the industry. But upon examination of Abraham’s background, his late arrival to the tech game becomes less surprising.
Raised in Chicago shelters and foster homes, Abraham had a far tougher upbringing than many of his peers.
In high school, he was still reading at a fifth grade level — and his struggles persisted, even after he went to college on a sports scholarship.
Yet through grit and hard work, Abraham slowly found his academic niche. After college, he developed Trackmyspeed, a tool that uses data points to track the performance of the athletes he was training. “That’s when I started getting into data,” he explained.
Having started down the data path, Abraham was eager for more — and eventually enrolled in Northwestern Data Science and Visualization Boot Camp.
“I can write Python in my sleep now”
From the beginning, Abraham was determined to make the most of his time in the boot camp — particularly given the lack of opportunities he had growing up.
“I knew, through my past, that if I had resources, I would always maximize them to better my opportunities.”
Abraham took to that last platform especially well — “I can write Python in my sleep now,” he laughed.
Abraham’s new skills have gone on to serve him incredibly well in the working world.
As a business intelligence analyst at Uptake — a Chicago tech company that uses data analytics to predict the maintenance needs of industrial equipment — he uses coding practically every day now.
That was true from the very start. Asked to painstakingly sort through an Excel spreadsheet, Abraham quickly wrote a string of code to help him along, finishing a task that would have taken weeks in just a few hours.
An uptick at Uptake
In fact, Abraham’s become such a coding wizard, especially with Python, that he can now expertly code on the fly, wowing his boss and colleagues even in high-pressure meetings.
“During Uptake meetings, I’m now using skills that are actually more sophisticated than the ones I need for my current position,” he said.
“My boss asked me to connect two data sets, and I was able to write a merge code,” he explained of one particularly rewarding day. “Then he asked to see the column that only showed certain information, and I was able to write a code that filtered data by a specific keyword. After that, he wanted to see a chart — which I easily coded using Domo.”
None of this was easy. As Abraham explained, putting even a single period in the wrong place could have ruined the whole code, and that’s before you factor in the stress of getting everything right with the suits watching on Zoom.
But his experience in the boot camp gave Abraham the confidence to polish off task after task “without hitting a mistake.”
“It took me back to every time I was in class,” he explained. “That gave me more confidence to just keep going and try more complex coding.”
It also helped that Abraham got so much help via his program. Apart from enjoying robust support from instructors, he took advantage of recorded lectures, combing over everything again and again to ensure he really grasped the details.
“I was able to pause and understand not only my own thought process, but also that of my colleagues.”
Looking for new opportunities
Now safely established at Uptake, Abraham is already eager for his next challenge — and knows exactly where to look.
“I want to become more involved in machine learning — something I’d never known about until Northwestern. And now, because of my experience proving myself over the last few months, Uptake feels confident in me.”
No wonder, then, that Abraham is aiming to become a fully fledged data scientist at Uptake, taking his career to even greater heights.
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