After 20 years working at the McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Bill Nash suddenly learned he was out of a job. The funding for the department was diminished, and the bioinformatics professional was at a loss. At 51-years-old, Bill had to come up with a new plan.
“I was looking for other bioinformatics jobs, but there weren’t a lot of positions in St. Louis that called for my skillset. Over the past year, I’d seen things about data analytics and how it was impacting the genetics sector but I didn’t know a lot about it,” Bill said. “After 25 years, my skills were valuable, but I realized I had to upskill to find a new career.”
That realization led Bill on a journey to an exciting new position. And it all started in a very familiar place: WashU.
Discovering a new path forward
When considering his next move, Bill initially thought about getting his masters. The issue? He needed a job, fast. So he started looking into boot camp programs and he found the Washington University Data Analytics Boot Camp.
“I wanted a quality education and WashU has a great name. I figured if Trilogy Education was married up with WashU and a range of other top-tier schools, they must be offering a high-quality product,” Bill said. So he enrolled.
Bill was nervous. But he had a lot riding on this opportunity, and he was determined to make the most of it, and soon he was getting in the groove of learning.
“I had a lot of anxiety at the beginning. At 51, I don’t learn the same way that I did when I was 25,” he said. “After a while, I realized the ways that I learn best. I would redo lectures and homework until I understood the concepts.”
Channeling his strengths and mastering new skills
During the boot camp, Bill was determined not to let age be a deterrent. “I figured I’d be at the higher end of the age range, and I am. There’s one student who just graduated from college,” Bill said. “But you don’t let that bother you because we’re in the same course. He has strengths and I have strengths, too.”
Learning those strengths was a crucial part of succeeding. Throughout the course, Bill worked with other students on a few group projects, including one where they analyzed similarities of chart-topping music over the past 60 years.
“The projects have worked out really well,” Bill said. “Working with other people, you have to learn their strengths very quickly and how to best allocate responsibilities.”
With a successful career under his belt, Bill had already mastered a number of professional skills. But there were still places to improve. “Patience is always something you can work on. Being patient with other people is a given. I’ve had more practice with that,” he said. “But being self-reliant and not expecting others to give things to you, that’s something I had to practice.”
A new opportunity for success
Once Bill started to feel confident in his skills, it was time to figure out his next move. He started casting a wide net, applying to a range of biological positions.
“I did my best to navigate it on my own at the beginning, but nothing was really landing,,” Bill said. “Then, the course introduced us to technical resumes. My current resume was essentially a version of my 1993 resume. I didn’t realize how vastly different the two formats were and how important it was to update it.”
After getting his resume in shape with the help of the boot camp’s career services, Bill was ready to kickstart his new career. As luck would have it, he discovered a connection at Mercy Hospital who worked with one of many data analytics groups.
“I didn’t expect it to go anywhere, but I gave her my resume,” Bill said. “On December 1st, her boss called and left several messages. They were really interested in the skills I had and the ones I was going to learn in the boot camp. Six interviews later, I got the position of Senior Systems Analyst at Mercy Hospital.”
The position was perfect for Bill—and he’s thrilled to dive in. “For 25 years I was working on the human genome. I get the opportunity to still be on the medical side, and now get to use the analytics part of my training to help physicians make decisions on healthcare,” he said.
With graduation coming up at the end of March, Bill is optimistic and excited. The boot camp has been a life-changing experience for him—but it didn’t come without a lot of hard work.
“Dedicating the time and the resources will only help you in the future, whether you’re trying to advance in your current position or going into a new position entirely,” Bill said. “With a lot of hard work, this course is perfect. They give you the tools to succeed, but learning is up to you.”
It’s never too late to learn new skills—especially through the help of an immersive boot camp experience. Explore a range of boot camps nationwide in web development, data analytics, UX/UI, and cybersecurity.