First off, sorry I have been so busy. I have been spending a bulk of the last few months doing work in
three four major areas.
1) Processing: This is more fun than anything else I’ve been doing. I love Processing!
2) Microsoft Project / SharePoint / PerformancePoint: I have spent a bulk of time at work getting an implementation of Project and SharePoint going and then getting the dashboards built. Truly awesome. We have basically transformed the company’s process from one that largely existed in people’s heads, and some spreadsheets on a shared drive, into something that is generating data that can be observed, reported, and visualized in real time. Those programs are not the best out there, but they are a starting point to turn any business into something measurable.
3) PintsOfData: A Data Driven product!
4) Talend / SQL Server Agent Jobs: Learning how to move large quantities of data automatically. It also helps that both Processing and Talend use Java.
Now I mention those four points because last week this article found it’s way under my eyes: “1 in 2 new graduates are jobless or underemployed“ I can’t understand that! I’ve been so busy on many fronts of the data business and can’t understand why kids with half a brain and a basic understanding of computers cannot find a job! I have literally been doing everything along the data science pyramid and I really would like to concentrate more on the upper layers.
So I have decided to dictate my strange travel through College to give current college students a guide to getting a job instantly when they graduate.
I got out of high school not knowing what I wanted to do. I liked both computers and art, but I did not know what to do with that. I went to a local university in Savannah, Georgia for two years and then transferred the Georgia Tech. Here are the courses that best helped me get into my field with links to syllabi that roughly coincide with what I learned from the schools I took them:
Armstrong Atlantic State Univ: Computer Science, Sculpture, and Physics
Compsci: CSCI 1301, 1302, 2401. I learned Java here and I think these were only two classes when I took them. I took both with Stephen Jodis: I got a B in the first class and I think a C or D in the second. He was really hard!
Physics: PHYS 2211 Principles of Physics I and PHYS 2212 II, very useful to making cool stuff in Processing.
Art: ARTS 3300 Ceramics, ARTS 3330 Sculpture. I can find neither syllabus but a description can be found here in the full pdf of the course catalog. I took them both with John Jensen, Professor of Art. I (eventually) created beautiful things out of base material. This is needed in the Data Biz so your spreadsheets don’t look like total crap. My first ones did. They were ugly garbage. People judge you by how your spreadsheets look. Good design is good communication!
Georgia Tech: Math and Business.
Math: Intro to Graph Theory 4022 (dropped it but very interesting), Applied Combinatorics 3012 (loved it), Numerical Analysis 4640 (Loved it! It is the science of estimating), Statistics I and II.
I ultimately got my degree in Business, and the things I learned that got me a job in the data business was naturally in the IT Management field. Now I honestly can’t remember which class I took, but something on this list (course details) introduced me to Excel and Access. These two things got me an interview.
MGT 4058-Database Management – This class taught me basic SQL, fundamentals of a good database, keys, indexes, etc. All these things were utilized soon after getting my first job. This is your entry ticket to getting and keeping a job in the data industry.
So to Summarize I’d say that if you’re in college and have at least two semester left I would say try these 8 basic classes:
- Intro Computer Science I and II.
- Math. One Statistics class, either basic (Business school) or advanced (Math). One logic / proof class (NOTs, ANDs/Intersections, ORs/Unions, etc.etc.)
- Business IT Database class (for SQL and such) and a Business computer class (to speak the lingo on that job interview: “Yes I know Excel very well… Vlookups, sure I can do them”)
- Two Arts, so your first work project doesn’t look so ugly. Color theory is recommended.
Notes: I completely ignore Calculus I,II,III and Diff Eq. The things learned have not really been ‘useful’ per se. They have had a large impact on changing my mind to become a better problem solver, a visualizer, and an error checker. These skills VERY useful in my profession, but I assume that there are many other ways to get these skills. I have also ignored English. As you can tell from reading this blog I kind of suck at it. I probably learned more in my high-school English classes than I ever did in college. That’s not the college’s fault, I just never further pursued it.
Accounting: I’m sorry, but the intro classes shouldn’t be a college course. Our world should be teaching this stuff in middle school. It is that fundamental to civilization. My accounting Prof was great and I hold her in high esteem.
Economics: Supply and Demand equals price. Again it should probably be introduced in elementary school and expounded more in middles school. Kids need to realize that if I get a degree everyone else gets in an industry with little demand, then they will probably end up as a barrista like the people in that article. Read Mises.org
Other Essentials: Video Games!
Games that are slow and complicated: Civilization or SimCity series. Complicated rules, menus, controls, and options and restrictions. This is life in business.
Games that are fast and accurate: Shooter games. The faster you move at work the more you will get done, but it must be done right. Also no one likes to play with rude loudmouths who spawncamp.