Sean Hoffman is a skilled data analyst with over 18 years of experience working in the field. When the company he’d been with for the majority of his career started downsizing, Sean’s team was hit especially hard — and he lost both his boss and his mentor at the same time.
This sudden change made Sean realize that he needed to be prepared if something were to happen to his current position. With that, he enrolled in the University of Denver Data Analytics Boot Camp, intent on polishing his existing skills and developing new ones.
Committing to the goal at hand
Sean works for Vision Graphics, a marketing and commercial printing company based out of Denver. Prior to the boot camp, the majority of his data analyst experience had consisted of using SQL and Excel — but he knew there were more advanced industry tools his company had yet to explore.
“It was kind of an ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ situation,” he explained. “But I recognized that I needed to boost those skills in order to be prepared for the potential of a new position.”
Sean continued working full-time while attending the boot camp, and his workload more than doubled due to company layoffs.
Managing his work life, education, and family life was challenging, and going back to school after 20 years also proved to be difficult. Being in a physical classroom environment was something that had drawn Sean to the boot camp — so when classes migrated online due to COVID-19, he wasn’t sure how he would adjust.
“I’ve tried to take online classes in the past and it just never worked out for me, so I was hesitant when the class went virtual,” he said. “I had general anxiety about going back to school in the first place, and once it went virtual, more of that uneasiness rose to the surface.” However, Sean soon saw the benefits of online learning — like not commuting to class and having better time management.
From day one, the connections he made with fellow students in his cohort were beneficial in helping him get through the course. “Being able to have time with classmates to understand their struggles, perspectives, and where they were coming from outside of my particular career focus was huge,” he said. “It gives you insight into what else is out there in the world of data analytics. I probably learned as much from them as I did from the curriculum itself.”
With a career primarily centered around marketing, Sean was intrigued by his classmates’ diverse backgrounds. For example, one of his peers was a firefighter who wanted to use data to better organize and manage emergency calls.
“He was looking at data in a completely different way than I was,” explained Sean. “It was eye-opening to see all of the walks of life that are impacted by our career choice and how data can be utilized in so many different areas.”
Doing more with data
Looking back, Sean is especially grateful to have gained Python experience in the boot camp. This programming language had become an industry standard for data analytics, but Sean’s company hadn’t dipped its toes in the water yet. There was a need for Sean to not only learn Python, but also implement it within the company.
“I’d previously attempted to learn Python on my own through online courses, but that never worked out for me,” he said. “The boot camp’s structure allowed me to really focus. We were learning at rocket speed, so there was no time to say, ‘I’ll get back to this later.’ We moved onto something new each week, so you just had to sit down and learn it.”
In the midst of the boot camp, Sean’s company was acquired by a new group that quickly ramped up the amount of data-related work that needed to be done. By prioritizing data as a critical business focus, Sean has been promoted twice within the company — and was even able to hire a fellow boot camp student.
Not only did he gain new skills by attending the boot camp — he also gained a solid network of fellow data scientists, a new role as Director of Data Services, and the opportunity to help make his company more efficient and successful.
“The boot camp is a huge commitment, but anything that is great in life is going to be a huge commitment,” he said. “It’s about making the investment in yourself to further your education and broaden your skill set.”
Looking to gain new skills and expand your potential for different career opportunities? Check out University of Denver Boot Camps and embark on a new path today.