A certain amount of planning is necessary in life, but plotting out your entire career can close doors that you didn’t even know existed.
Grecia Villarreal doesn’t have a background in data analytics, and it was not part of her job description. But when she was asked to identify and report on organization-wide trends as part of a new, data-intensive work project, she faced the challenge head-on. In fact, she actually turned it into a new career.
Grecia’s open mind and willingness to learn helped her discover a love for data science. Here’s how she turned that newfound passion into a fulfilling career at Tecnológico de Monterrey Data Analytics Boot Camp.
Stepping out of her comfort zone
Data analytics was never part of the plan.
While working for General Electric (GE) as an ERP functional process leader, Grecia was put in charge of implementing the company’s new enterprise resource planning system. With a background in materials management, she found this project well within her wheelhouse. “Then, the project’s scope changed,” she said.
Grecia was asked to do some light data cleanup as part of the implementation process. She quickly realized she was out of her depth. “I was comfortable validating data on the front end and building dashboards in Tableau,” shared Grecia, “but I found myself relying on the IT department a lot in the backend.”
Grecia learned as she went — on her own time — and even moved on to a position as data analyst for Honeywell, but still felt like she could do more.
Room to grow
Grecia was by no means struggling. In fact, she was even promoted to senior business analyst in procurement and supply chain. Most people, in her shoes, would be happy to stop there. But Grecia wasn’t finished. “I was an analyst and knew what I was doing, but I was also working alongside these data science and Python experts,” Grecia explained. “I sort of felt like an imposter.”
Rather than allow that insecurity to paralyze her, Grecia used it to fuel her curiosity. “I was already teaching myself, but I really needed a clear path,” she said. Then, Grecia heard about Tecnológico de Monterrey Data Analytics Boot Camp from her boyfriend — who had seen an ad for the course on Facebook.
“I started to do some research,” said Grecia. “The course looked pretty good, because it covered all of the popular tools that I was looking for.” Grecia was also interested in the traditional, in-person learning environment that the boot camp offered. “The opportunity to learn in a hands-on environment with professional help was incredibly appealing,” she shared.
Without thinking twice, Grecia put the boot camp at the top of her to-do list.
Adjusting to life as a part-time student
Having decided to take her data visualization skills to the next level, Grecia now needed a plan for managing an extra 30 hours of work every week. “The boot camp is definitely fast-paced,” said Grecia. “It’s easy to get frustrated, but you have to learn how to feel comfortable being uncomfortable — and know that you don’t have to do everything perfectly. Everyone starts somewhere.”
For Grecia, awareness was key. “I had to be very conscious and deliberate about the time I was putting into work and the boot camp,” she shared. “It was also important to communicate with my managers — who were all very understanding and encouraging.”
Again, Grecia emphasized the pace of the program. “Even if you aren’t grasping something 100 percent, you have to move on. Just keep in mind that you have to be determined to investigate things on your own if you want to succeed,” she advised.
The benefits of project-based learning
“When I started teaching myself Python and SQL, I never had an opportunity to see a whole project through to the end — from zero to deliverable,” Grecia explained. The boot camp provided her with that opportunity.
“The end of the boot camp was like my ‘aha!’ moment,” shared Grecia. “Everything just sort of came together, and you could clearly see how all of these different programs and tools connect with one another.”
In Grecia’s opinion, understanding the big picture — rather than just one system — has incredible value. “To grow a business or own a company, you have to be able to build a product from scratch,” she said. In other words, to Grecia, developing a deeper and broader understanding of data visualization was an easy way to open more doors in her career.
As it turns out, she was right. After graduating from the boot camp, Grecia was quickly offered another position. Now, she works as a Senior Financial Analyst for Johnson Controls.
Grecia’s journey is a testament to just how far an intrepid spirit and an insatiable thirst for knowledge can take you.
How to make the most of boot camp
When asked what wisdom she had to share with future boot camp students, Grecia said, “Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges — and ask as many questions as you can.” She also says not to be shy or afraid of looking foolish. “Everyone in the boot camp is there to learn — and some students have zero background in data science,” explained Grecia. “At first, I definitely felt awkward. Then I asked other students, and it turns out they all felt the same way.”
“I had no idea that I would want to do this, by the way,” added Grecia. “It was completely by chance.” When a change in project scope threw her into the deep end of analytics, Grecia kept an open mind, discovered a new passion, and built a brighter future for herself — one she hadn’t even known she wanted.
You’ll never know what you’re capable of until you try. Explore boot camps in coding and data analytics at Tecnológico de Monterrey.