How a Professional Fundraiser Turned to Data Analytics to Find a Career that Fits

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Max Browning always knew he liked numbers. In college, he went from studying to be an actuary, to a math teacher, to a fundraiser—but nothing felt like the perfect fit. He found himself always searching for something that more closely aligned with his passions. It wasn’t until recently that Max discovered the field for him: data analytics. 

A Not-So-Great Start 

Max was two years into his second post-grad fundraising job when he stumbled upon a data analytics program. The intensive ten-week course looked like it would be right up his alley but Max “absolutely hated it.” 

“In fact, I told my partner, ‘Listen. If I ever say I want to be a data analyst again, remind me of this experience.’” After ten weeks filled with stress and misery, Max brushed his data analytics studies aside and continued with his job in fundraising. 

Still, something about data analytics resonated with him. He couldn’t stop thinking about it and ultimately decided to give the field another go. That’s when he saw an ad for the Butler Executive Education Data Analytics Boot Camp.

“When I talked to the admissions coach, I was like, ‘I’ve been burned before, so you’re really going to have to sell me on this,’” he said. “And here I am, with absolutely no regrets.”

Diligently Learning

Throughout the six-month boot camp, Max was still working his 9-5 fundraising job. He would wake up, work an eight-hour day, eat dinner, and then jump online for three hours of bootcamp at night. What’s more, he would often attend virtual office hours before or after class, seeking advice from his instructors or classmates.

Despite full and exhausting days, Max was a motivated student excited about the content he was learning. He leaned on his instructors for help with tough-to-solve homework problems, and he felt supported by everyone—from the admissions counselor, to the student success manager, his teacher’s assistant, and his instructor. “From day one, if you were willing to put your time into the program, they were willing to put their time into you and make sure you succeeded,” he said. 

The Little Wins

One of Max’s favorite boot camp memories was a moment when he saw all his hard work, as well as that support, pay off. He had been working through a tough homework assignment for three nights straight, and decided to wake up before the Saturday boot camp session to attend office hours. But when he logged on in the morning, he realized he already knew the answer to his question.

“I was in office hours, and said, ‘Wait, I don’t think I need you anymore,’” he recalled. “And the instructors were there to celebrate those wins with us when we had them.” 

Classmate Collaboration, Real-Life Application

Max’s classmates were there to celebrate those wins, too. While some learners might prefer in-person classes, he liked being fully virtual, and found it easy to collaborate with his classmates through screen sharing and breakout rooms. “We worked together really well, and it didn’t feel like there was a gap between what we were learning virtually and what we would be learning in person,” he said. “We started virtually and we ended virtually—and while we may have started off a bit slower, I think it was incredibly beneficial for all of us.” 

Max’s favorite collaborative project was one that highlighted how to tell a story with data. His group was responsible for analyzing the Spotify Top 100 song list and tracking how it changed over the years. All three of Max’s group members had very different backgrounds, but shared a love for music. Though they all had full-time jobs and were working on different schedules, they collaborated effectively to produce a fascinating project

Another thing that stood out to Max about the project was that his team didn’t actually come up with its premise. In fact, the only criteria for choosing a topic was that it couldn’t be your group’s idea. Each team had to work on a project cultivated by another. 

“This showed how our instructors were really preparing us for real-life applications. It’s common that you’re not going to be able to make your own projects. You’re going to be dealing with someone else’s data, someone else’s idea. And you’ll only have a week to get the work done,” he said. “So the instructors really tried to frame everything in the lens of career training; getting us comfortable with what we were going to have to do six months later when we graduated from the boot camp.” 

To Graduation and Beyond

Though Max was blazing through boot camp, he wasn’t necessarily pining to leave his job. Comfortable as a fundraiser, he didn’t want to jump into a data analytics position without knowing he’d love it. Rather than launching his job search solo, Max leveraged the boot camp’s career services to help him find the perfect role. 

“I had never worked with a career coach before and, because I was a communications major, I was already a trained interviewer and interviewee,” he said. “But working with the career director was absolutely 100% worth it, and I would recommend it to anyone.”

Max’s career coach helped him discern exactly what he wanted from his next position—and how he could stand out in the application pool. She helped him curate each application to put his best foot forward and, as a result, Max was invited to interview at two of three companies he was most excited about. In the end, one of them offered him a position.

“My success rate was because of the materials I created in the bootcamp and the coaching my career director gave me,” he said. “It absolutely blew my expectations out of the water. I did not expect to be fully employed in the data analytics field after a six-month boot camp and only submitting three high-quality applications.” 

Learning Self-Sufficiency 

Today, Max is working as a data analytics and reporting analyst in the finance sector. Looking back, he’s grateful that the bootcamp helped him become familiar with many of the broad concepts and terms he now uses daily. Perhaps the most important thing the bootcamp taught him was how to find answers on his own.

“It prepared me to take initiative and turn to Google when I was unsure of something. During my first two weeks at work, there were so many times when I wanted to go to my supervisor for help. But the bootcamp prepped me to think, ‘Okay, you know you’ve seen this somewhere else. How can you find the answer on your own?’” he said. “I think my supervisors and coworkers appreciate that I’m able to support myself and find my own answers.” 

Looking to the Future

As for the future, Max wants to keep moving forward in the field of data analytics, continually diving into the areas that really interest him. 

“I want to see where it takes me, because it’s a huge field that’s always changing,” he said. “I’m excited to just keep learning.”

Interested in finding a new career path of your own? Explore the Butler Executive Education Data Analytics Boot Camp today.

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