David MacEachern was itching to leave his job in sales and move into a role in data analytics, but he kept getting stuck in the interview process. “I didn’t know how to speak the language of exact tools,” he says. He knew the ins and outs of Excel, but when SQL—a programming language used to access databases—came up in conversation, he was fuzzy on details. Finally MacEachern, who’s 30 years old and holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology, took a leap of faith and enrolled in the inaugural class of a bootcamp-style program in data analytics at Northeastern University.
MacEachern, now a data analyst at Ellevation Education, a Boston-based software platform for English-Language Learners, credits his career pivot to the skills he learned in the crash course. Skills-training bootcamps have sprung up in urban centers across the U.S. to help meet demand for tech talent, but in most cases these immersive courses in fields including web development and user experience operate outside of traditional universities. Northeastern’s Level, the data analytics program that MacEachern completed, shows how higher-ed institutions might benefit by taking a page from the skills-bootcamp playbook.
“As a result of our program, the rest of Northeastern is realizing the demand for tech-biased, shorter, experiential and industry-aligned learning,” says Nick Ducoff, who leads an incubator at the university that tests new models of education. The data analytics bootcamp is just the beginning. Northeastern is scaling this program and adding more, including a marketing analytics immersive course this fall.