How Melissa Hazelgreen Became Her Company’s Go-To Data Analyst

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At the beginning of 2020, Melissa Hazelgreen felt stuck in an uninspiring role as a business analyst. While hunting for something more fulfilling, she was disappointed to discover that most jobs required skills she didn’t have — namely, proficiency in coding languages like SQL, Python, and JavaScript. 

Despite landing a new business analyst job in March, Melissa soon realized she needed to expand her skill set to truly advance in her career. It wasn’t until she enrolled in Rutgers Data Science Bootcamp that she picked up the skills needed to get noticed by her supervisors. 

Assessing the situation

I always knew I wanted to be in the healthcare field,” Melissa said. “But I didn’t know where.” After graduating from Penn State in 2011 with a B.S. in Health Policy and Administration, she soon found herself working in the IT side of the industry. Melissa went back to school, earning her MBA in Management Information Systems from New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2014, but she experienced a rude awakening when she began job hunting. 

“All the job ads I read wanted someone with Python or JavaScript experience,” said Melissa. Meanwhile, her MBA in information systems provided “more of an overview of technical languages” that covered “just enough to get by” in the current job market. 

After spinning her wheels in jobs where she felt stuck, Melissa landed a position she was truly excited about as a business support analyst for the pediatric healthcare nonprofit Children’s Aid. In order to truly advance at work, she knew she’d have to expand her skill set — and finally learn all those technical languages that had eluded her.

Taking the leap

Melissa got hired at Children’s Aid in March and began the data science bootcamp in April. Balancing the bootcamp and a new job was no easy task — but it was worth it. Almost immediately, Melissa started applying lessons from the classroom to her work at Children’s Aid.

“The most important skills I picked up from [the] bootcamp involve data integrity,” said Melissa. “We have to ask lots of questions to make sure everything we create from a reporting standpoint tells a meaningful story for the business. Learning that changed my way of thinking.” 

After all, data reporting is central to her role at Children’s Aid — and accurate data is essential in securing funding. 

“We receive all these grants and money from the government and use it to provide medical care for kids in lower income communities, in neighborhoods like Harlem and the Bronx,” said Melissa. “It’s like a business, so we have to make sure that everything’s properly in place. Rules and protocols have to be followed, or else we won’t get the money.”

Putting new skills to use

At work, Melissa was able to impress higher-ups with thoughtful questions about streamlining workflows and other processes.

“I asked these really hard questions, and people were impressed,” Melissa explained. “I felt really good about that. People started asking me more questions.”

Once her workplace implemented the data reporting dashboard Tableau, Melissa was able to take further advantage of her newfound skill set. “It was one of the tools we went over in [the boot camp],” said Melissa. “We only spent two weeks on it, but we had homework and activities. I was able to pick it up very quickly.”

When her boss purchased a Tableau developer’s license, Melissa eagerly got to work creating operational and financial reports. She would later present these reports to higher-ups including her boss, other managers, and even the vice president and COO of the company. The vice president and COO were so impressed that they began asking Melissa for more reports. It wasn’t long before tech-savvy colleagues started treating Melissa as an authority and approaching her with their own tech questions. 

Thinking about what’s next

Melissa knew she was truly thriving in her role when she received a glowing performance review from her boss. 

“My boss said some nice things,” said Melissa. “When I started the job, she laid out goals and expectations. In my review, she said I achieved everything and more.”

Now that Melissa has the skills needed to succeed, she can’t help but wonder what her professional future holds.

“My long-term goal is to stay in this field, but I want to grow into a more technical role,” Melissa said. She thinks she’d ultimately like to become a data scientist — and with the data reporting skills she picked up at the bootcamp, she now has the confidence to see that dream through. 

Looking to discover what you’re capable of? Explore Rutgers Boot Camps offered in Coding, Data Science, and FinTech.  

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