“It’s Going to be a Wild Ride”: How Steven Pennington Entered the Tech Field At Full Speed

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Steven Pennington fires up his computer and logs onto AWS, where he sifts through and starts querying various client servers — troubleshooting items and mapping data so clients can use it advantageously. Along with his daily tasks, Steven makes sure to dedicate time to complete courses through SAP Litmos to refresh skills he gained in tech boot camp and gain new ones. 

As a sociology undergraduate, Steven worked with descriptive statistics, which sparked his interest in data science. After graduating, he was in the cycling industry for nearly a decade, managing several businesses and using data to drive his decisions. 

In the midst of the pandemic, Steven decided to pursue his interest in data analytics and take his data analytics skills to the next level, enrolling full-time in the Penn Data Science Boot Camp.

Choosing the right path 

Steven entered the boot camp with an open mind and started learning concepts that were entirely new to him, like Python and some aspects of back end web development. He was eager to put in the work, with the goal of landing a data analyst position upon program completion. 

“I knew it was going to take a lot of time and dedication to get there, but everyone at the boot camp communicated exactly what needed to be done in order to hit my goals,” he said. “I just had to follow the path in front of me.”

While some concepts were more challenging for Steven, like connecting backends with Flask and creating APIs, he enjoyed things like Pandas, Matplotlib, and setting up graphs.

During a group project, Steven used his knowledge of cycling and experience in the field to complete an analysis of bicycle shares in Philadelphia. The project examined historical data through bike share apps to see how they grew, which bike share locations were the most popular, and what types of bikes were used at those locations. 

“In 2018, bike shares in Philadelphia started incorporating electric bikes, and you could see how the bike shares chose their locations and expanded electric bike offerings from the plotting on a map that we did,” he said.

Riding it out until the end 

A few months into the boot camp, learners were introduced to career services. They were encouraged to reach out to their career advisor and set up meetings to prepare for the job search that lay ahead. It’s an aspect of the program Steven strongly advises learners take advantage of from day one. 

“You have to be aggressive about applying for jobs. It took about four months of me applying for jobs, getting rejections, and taking mental health breaks before I landed something,” he said. “Career services is a resource that’s available to you, and you can get a lot of bang for your buck from it.”

Two weeks after completing the boot camp, Steven landed a job as a junior data analyst and master of database administration with IntegriChain, the life science industry’s largest data and business platform for therapy commercialization and access. 

“I work with an AWS platform using a portal where I’m responsible for making sure data from various parts of the pharmaceutical supply chain fall in the right places,” he said. 

Steven’s favorite part of the job is the autonomy he has over himself and the work he’s doing. Once he’s given a task, it’s on him to complete it and he’s able to work to get the job done. 

“For now, I want to keep my head down and continue working and soaking everything in,” he said. “I’m so new to it, so getting as involved as I can is important to me right now — and it’s easy to do that in the data science community.”

In the future, he’d like to get a master’s degree in data science and move into hard coding. Having gained a transformative boot camp education, he now encourages others to do the same. 

“If you’re interested, take the plunge — no matter how intimidating it is,” he said. “Then hold on, because it’s going to be a wild ride. In the end, it’s the most rewarding thing ever.” 

Interested in embarking on a career in data science? Learn more about Penn Boot Camps and explore programs in data science, cybersecurity, fintech, and more.

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