Over the past eight years, Level instructor Andrea Levy has immersed herself in the world of data, working as a data analyst, a data scientist and a big data engineer. Along the way, she has found a passion for tutoring and mentoring recent grads and interns interested in data and getting their footing in the data space. Now, as a Level instructor, she brings her experience to our upcoming virtual program, starting January 16th.
We spoke with Andrea about her pathway through the data space, what aspects of data she finds most exciting and what she is looking forward to when it comes to teaching the program:
Level: When did you first get into data?
Andrea: I got into problem solving early on, and that naturally developed into an interest in data. Growing up, when my family would take long car rides, my parents would give my sister and me word problems to keep us busy and entertained in the back seat. I liked this kind of problem solving and it was very clear that I was interested in doing something like that later on.
When I was applying to colleges and deciding where to go, I actually created a spreadsheet with an algorithm that helped me determine where to go to college (Harvey Mudd won out)! Those spreadsheets were kind of an early-on gateway to me working in data analytics.
I ended up going to Harvey Mudd College and majored in math. At Mudd I learned the foundational skills for working with data and began to appreciate the diverse applications of data analytics.
Level: How did you make the transition to working with data in the real world?
Andrea: My first job out of school was working as a data analyst at a government contractor. We worked with Medicare and Medicaid claims data to understand the impact of various policy changes. On a daily basis, we were performing large scale data analytics on a rich set of data, and I quickly learned about the nuances of real world data. This was my first time truly getting to know what it means to work with data in the real world.
After the data analytics job I started to explore the analytics-adjacent space and started working more on internal data processing and cleaning. I then moved into a role as a Big Data engineer, but ultimately decided to swing back towards analytics.
Now, I’m at a startup doing data analytics for a data company. I’m passionate about the product because it’s data oriented, and I feel like it can help people who don’t have a robust data team at their organizations.
Level: When did you first realize a passion for teaching others?
Andrea: When I was at Harvey Mudd, I tutored students in math and statistics, and that carried over to my first job, where I tutored and mentored recent grads in data analytics tools and concepts. Just this past summer, I worked with an intern, and when I was helping him get situated in SQL for the first time I thought to myself, “I like this!” so I started looking for opportunities. Level seemed like a great fit!
Level: What is your favorite aspect of data analytics?
Andrea: I like that the data space is challenging and filled with problem solving. It’s fun to find little problem solving challenges in my work! For example, I might have a slow running line of code and I’ll figure out ways that I can optimize it.
Level: What do you think is an important challenge that an analyst needs to master?
Andrea: Communication. Data Analytics is all about interpretation and figuring out how to answer the question in front of you while still understanding your limitations. The translation from words to data, back to words (and visuals) is really key. You need to figure out what level of detail the people you are working with want.
Level: What are you looking forward to most in teaching the next virtual cohort at Level?
Andrea: I’m excited to go back to the basics of data analytics and really pass that concrete foundation onto my students so that they can build up their careers. Teaching in a virtual classroom that has so many capabilities will be a new experience for me that I’m looking forward to.
Level: Finally, what would you say to someone who likes to work with numbers, but isn’t sure why they should learn data analytics?
Andrea: There are so many rewarding things about data analytics. Understanding the impact of something and influencing change to real world systems, helping to build a product, and optimizing various aspects of a product or business process are just a few aspects.
At my first job, the impact part of it all was incredibly rewarding. We would present our data, and the government would actually make changes based on our work. Not only that, but data analytics is fun! It is a very high-growth, high-reward field. There is always an opportunity to continue to learn and develop your skill set as more data is collected and organizations’ needs evolve.
People and organizations want to understand how others interact with them, and those insights lie in data. As an analyst, you can give voice to that data. There truly is a huge demand for data analytics and there are so many nuanced, well paying roles with different functions, from data modeling to cleaning to analysis and visualization.
Andrea’s class is kicking off on January 16. We only have a few seats left! If you are interested in joining Level this January, don’t wait! Apply today and an enrollment coach will reach out to you right away!